What I Did On My Holidays (What Holidays?)

It's back to school week here in Tasmania, for the beginning of the school year, and traditionally that calls for an essay on "What I Did On My Holidays", so here goes. First of all, I'm pretty sure I didn't have any holidays. The kiddos turned up from Melbourne, and that was marvellous and fun. Four of them all here together, plus The Girl's partner, cooking up a storm, playing poker, making candles (The Girl and Red), sewing cloth masks (The Girl). They all spent a rainy afternoon playing with their childhood lego. Then one of The Girl's friends came over and when I looked into the lounge room there were four of them all doing embroidery together.

I asked Red to embroider a patch for me to cover up the logo of the snooty company that made this great sturdy canvas tote which once belonged to one of the girls, but is now my library tote. I hate being free, walking advertising for companies that are snooty and expensive, but now I am thrilled with my excellent, free, logo-free library bag:)

The Girl's partner is a mad keen cook (The Chef), which is absolutely my kind of house guest. They did a lamb roast, which they turned into soup a couple of days later. Cooks who use up their own leftovers are the best.

Then I asked for help with a ham bone which had been lurking in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Left to my own devices I would have produced pea and ham soup, but The Chef whipped up ramen, made over the course of a whole day - first roasting the ham bone, then simmering it for several hours with onion, garlic etc, then sieving it and chopping up the ham, then adding the fixings, including steamed dumplings. It was amazing - so much more enthusiasm than is usually seen in the kitchen around here.

Another exciting development was the cocktails that The Boy and The Chef came up with, based on whatever I had in the cupboard. Vodka with soda water, lime juice, lemon, ginger syrup and a twist of mint went down nicely, as did the gin with soda water, breakfast juice, ginger syrup, lemon and mint from the garden.

In between other fun I have rewritten my rejected novel once, and now I am doing it again. Once I started rewriting I saw all its flaws. This may take some time.. Tomorrow, for the first time in a year, our writing group will be meeting again. I am so excited about this. While we are incredibly fortunate here in Tasmania to have been out of lockdown since last July, and covid-free this whole time (well, down to management, obviously, rather than luck), there are still many groups that have not been able to meet due to restrictions on how many people are allowed in a room for meetings. We will be meeting in a large room at the library tomorrow instead of a small room at the museum, and it will be wonderful to be back with fellow writers.

Plans for this year:

Rewrite that novel until I am happy with it. 

Keep writing for Earth Garden. This is so fun. For the summer edition I wrote about garden weeds for first aid, and for the coming autumn edition I have penned an article about idling in the garden, something we should all do more of.

Learn French - my parents gave me some money at the end of last year and I have booked into a whole year of French lessons with Alliance Francaise. My friend Shirley and I will be parlaying francais all over the place. I learnt French at school but it wants a good wash and brush up. Paul used to pop over to France for the summer every couple of years, and we plan to do it together when that is possible one day. I may get at least two years of French lessons in by then..

I started doing yoga, via the lovely Adriene on YouTube for about two weeks, then stopped. It will be interesting to note if I ever do that again. It is nice and stretchy, but also very much hard work on the old bones.

The garden - I have pulled out half the vegie garden and I will be turning it into a dry native garden which I won't water after it is established. I have struggled for four years against all the tree roots and the shade, and now I am convinced it isn't worth it. I will intensify my gardening efforts in the lowest garden, and stop fighting nature. I will be helping Paul to establish a vegie garden at his place, so there will still be vegies galore. First we have to make the space into a very large possum proof cage, though.

Here are the empty garden beds that will be filled up with beautiful local greenery in the autumn.

I think that I have managed to make plans for the year that are not New Year's resolutions. You know how New Year's resolutions go - they seem like a good idea at the time, but less so as the days and weeks wear on. But i have built in fail safes. I have to go to French lessons, because Shirley will pick me up and drive me there. I WILL finish that novel, because it would be so embarrassing not to. If I do yoga, it will be extraordinary, and anything will be better than nothing in that department, so not possible to disappoint myself there. And visiting that native plant nursery and planting up the garden? Keeping me away until autumn will be the hardest part..

Tell me about your plans for the year, and whatever sneaky machinations you have devised in order to bring those plans to fruition..


Anonymous said…
A+ for your holiday composition, Miss Jo. I want a chef and cocktail maker to visit me. And such crafty and creative young’ns!

My older son refused to wear anything with a logo except the little RM logo on the back of pants. He won’t give free advertising. The Dreamer is an advertising brand name sucker.

Super goals. I loved going to French lessons. And I was all the more engaged knowing a trip to France was on the cards.

Go the yoga! Good for old bones. I just don’t exercise at home. I’ve received repeatedly. And never did it well or consistently or for long ( or even short). What works for me is to book into a gym. Having that committed time, especially with a PT has seen me stick with it. Maybe you could get a yoga buddy like your French buddy?

Treaders said…
It must have looked like Little House on the Prairie with everyone embroidering it would be such a wonderful snapshot! And to have a chef and cocktail maker - again, just heaven. Although I've been out walking a lot I really haven't gotten along with exercising at home, even though my various classes are "zooming" them in. It just doesn't do it for me somehow. And I've been "trying" to learn Italian for 18 months now, but our teacher was off sick for a month, then covid kicked in and then .... I think all our lives have been put on hold haven't they, but hopefully we're nearing the end of the worst of the pandemic (fingers crossed)!
simplelife said…
Great essay Jo.
Love your new library bag, I too hate paying a company to be their free advertisment.
I can't even imagine having a chef in the house, that is luxury to me. As for my ham bones, pea and ham soup it shall be, coz I'm too lazy.
I love my yoga, but pretty sure if I hadn't been going to classes for the past 10 yrs I wouldn't be able to do a YouTube home practice. Even now I'm still pretty sporadic with the home stuff. It's too hard at home to switch off, besides when I'm head down I see all the dust bunnies etc and then laying on the floor I look up and see the cobwebs in the corners,really doesn't make for a mindful experience.
Good luck with the French lessons, I was so bad at french at school I did 2 English classes instead.
Cheers Kate
Anonymous said…
Cocktails, and food prepared by others sounds like a wonderful holiday! Sign me up!
I avidly practiced yoga in my younger years, tried to get back into it about 5 years ago (have an Ashram within walking distance). Nope. Emotions, and body aches ran out of me like a volcano...The closest I will get to yoga is walking pass the ashram on my daily walk.
No big plans for the coming year, keeping it slow and steady. Want to get better at growing food, and preserving it. I am hoping to focus more on my reading this year, the upheavals of the past year made it difficult for me to concentrate. I usually read 2-4 books a month.
Love your posts as always, Jo.
Be well,
Jo said…
Lucinda, coming from you, an A+ is an honour indeed:) It will be interesting to see what becomes of yoga. As you have found, I have so far been quite unable to keep up any exercise regime without external motivation, such as a gym buddy or having to walk the dog. I do really enjoy the yoga, as opposed to most other forms of exercise, so we shall see..

Anna, I have a cute photo of them all playing lego! As for exercise, there isn't the same energy without actual people in the room, is there? I wonder if that's why i find video calls so tiring? I really hope all you guys in Europe get a break from covid sooner rather than later. It must be all very disheartening and worrying.

Kate, ah see, that's where I have been preparing all these years for yoga at home. After much determined practice I have learned to totally ignore dust bunnies and cobwebs:)

Patricia, I was very surprised how emotional yoga can be. Extraordinary. Wasn't prepared for that. I like your calm plans. Getting better at growing food. Yes, me too. I want to remember to do succession planning. That is my downfall.
Ah, reading. Sometimes it's finding the right books that draws you back. Maybe we could all recommend the best books for happy reading. I recently re-read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe. Love, love, loved it:)
Deborah said…

We have rain! It has been raining nearly all afternoon so the ghastly bush fires up the coast should be almost out. So distressing.

Meanwhile I am delighted your offspring and co are busy doing calm and worthy things! You've made great kids.

I am convinced my overall well being is linked to my regular yoga practice although even writing those words feels funny. We went to yoga a few years ago to see if it would help my husband's dicky back. It didn't but I felt great. Didn't really enjoy zoom or youtube sessions but love my class each week.

French is another matter. I'll just wish you good luck! Although I did manage market Mandarin when we lived in China as my husband had the interpreter but I had to organise housing, schooling and food.

Mary said…
Sounds like you had a very cool holiday with kids and friends, and didn't even have to leave home! That's my kind of holiday. Here in the southeast USA we are in the throes of late winter so it's fun to read about your summer. I envy you that you have autumn on the horizon.

I've been doing yoga at home for many years now. I've tried classes, which are fun, but I can't stick with them. So it's back to the living room floor in the mornings. Over the years I've gone from TV programs to vhs tapes to dvd's to streaming from the internet and find at home I can tailor my practice better to what I need at different times. Youtube has a wealth of good teachers.
Kathy said…
Sounds like a wonderful holiday with the kids home. I find yoga a bit boring however that's just me. I did do on a pilates class twice this week on line which is okay...I just didn't feel like jumping around my lounge room doing cardio on the day. Have a great week, meeting with your writing club after so long will be fun. Kathy, Brisbane
Jo said…
Deborah, what a relief for WA to have those fires under control. I went with Paul to buy a fire hose for his bush property the other week. He spends a lot of summer keeping on top of fire safety - mowing, raking up bark and leaf litter around the house etc. We're planning some lush vegie gardens too, as extra fire protection. Fire break and food, multiple benefits! I must say, living in the city makes summer much more relaxing, bush fire-wise.
What a fabulous way to learn a language - thrown in the deep end in a new culture and having to cope! Terrifying, I am sure, but effective. Those years in China would be amazing to look back on.
It's interesting to hear your views on yoga. It does seem to be very much more than a stretching practice, doesn't it?

Mary, holidaying at home is the best because I am a happy hermit! I do agree that one of the great joys of the internet is experiencing two seasons at once! It seems we have quite the number of yoga aficionados here.. do you do yoga every day? How do you manage to keep turning up for it without the efficient cattle prod of a class? Enquiring minds want to know..

Kathy, a pilates class two times in a week is epic! Is it an actual class or an on-line video? My question to you is the same as to Mary - what is it that makes you turn up for exercise?
And yes, thank you, it was wonderful to get back to the writing group. What a joy to hang around with people who have the same passion:)
Mary said…
I wish I could give you a no-fail answer about exercising regularly, but here's what works best for me. I do yoga most days, and the only way I can be pretty regular about it and get it done is to do it first thing in the morning. I try to just get started without thinking about it (auto-pilot). Also, I enjoy it once I get started plus I know it's beneficial for me in many ways. I keep it short enough that it's easily manageable: I do 20-30 minutes each session which gives me 2-3 hours each week. This was actually a tip from a yoga instructor I used to practice with. Hope this helps.
Jo said…
From one Jo to another - a commenter on my blog recommended I hop over here to see another Jo making things from things, growing food, mending her jeans and generally making something out of nothing. I have not been disappointed. I have enjoyed having a poke around your corner of the world and will tune in for more growing news when the season gets underway. Do pop over and see my visible mending, my jeans are becoming a work of art! Jo xx
Jo said…
Mary, I think you are right on the money there - anything I commit to do first thing in the morning generally gets done.. but of course, that requires committing to exercise first thing in the morning. It is something I will contemplate..

Jo, how wonderful, another Jo! We are not an exclusive, but certainly an all round excellent demographic:) have enjoyed poking about on your website just now. Oh, my, the things you make! It is awe-inspiring to someone (me) who can commit to sewing a straight seam with the machine or running stitch on a patch!

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