Bake a Biscuit Day

Today is “Bake a Biscuit Day” and so I did just that! We thought it would be nice to have some home-baked biscuits to welcome people into the Astra for this day, so we set up a stand on the table in the foyer. All day long people have been coming and going and grabbing a biscuit, as well as looking at the fun biscuit trivia that Aaron put together. We had a selection of chocolate chip cookies, shortbread and Anzac biscuits to satisfy any biscuit lover out there - and I’m sure we made a few new friends along the way too!

The Astra's Biggest Morning Tea

This morning we joined in the national Biggest Morning Tea raising money for people struggling with cancer. It was an excellent event and very well attended and we all had a great time. We decided to upgrade our plates to cake stands for this event and got out our classiest cups and saucers! The homemade cakes and biscuits (I made some, as did Aaron’s wife and mother-in-law) looked lovely on the stands, and just for good measure we had a fruit platter on the side too. I brought in some different loose leaf teas for people to try and we brewed them in glass teapots, so we could see the colours change as the tea infused into the water.

After we had eaten cake and drunk tea (or coffee, or Pepsi!), we had some games and word puzzles to play. Most people had a go at trying to throw a teabag into a teapot (harder to do than it sounds - believe me, I tried!), and each table completed wordsearches and anagram challenges. We had a raffle too, with prizes for the lucky winners. Marie won our “guess which tea cup the tea is in” game, so congratulations to her for that.

Most importantly, while having fun we were also able to raise money for the Cancer Council. Altogether we raised $407, which was a fantastic result! Thanks to everyone who came and to those who couldn’t come to the tea but who donated to the cause. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Day Trip to Throsby Park

It was a beautiful sunny autumn day on Wednesday, and there was excitement in the air as we piled into the bus waiting to take us to the Southern Highlands for the day. We had a full bus of residents and friends, and the atmosphere was cheerful as we headed out. The drive down was smooth going and we made good time, arriving at Moss Vale Macca’s for a pit stop at 11am. Several coffees, cakes and ice creams later and we were back in the bus driving to Throsby Park.

Throsby Park is a beautiful colonial-era rural estate set on around 180 acres of land. Noni, one of our residents was brought up there and it was her paternal relatives that were originally granted the land in 1819. We were fortunate indeed to be shown around the house by someone with such an intimate knowledge of its history and with a personal experience of living there. Noni gave us some general information about the homestead and then showed us each room in turn and filled us in on more details as we went around.

What a trip we all had! Everyone had a great time and really enjoyed looking round the homestead. Although it was nice and warm outside, the house itself was very cold (I wouldn’t have much enjoyed having a bath in winter there!) so some of us went and sat outside to wait for the stragglers when we were done. Then we posed for a group photo before heading to lunch in nearby Berrima.

Lunch was a casual affair, with people going off to different places to eat. Most of us enjoyed a meal at the pub, however, which has the notoriety of being Australia’s oldest continuously licensed inn! The food was tasty and I think more than a few of us were feeling very full and contented by the time we got back on the bus to start the journey home to Bondi. We arrived home just after 4pm, reflecting that it had been a very pleasant day. Thanks to Noni for all her tour guiding and for making sure we didn’t lose anyone along the way!

May Day Festival

The sun most definitely had his hat on on Monday…hip hip hip hooray! We had a wonderful festival atmosphere in the Astra as we celebrated May Day (in the sense of a spring fair, not workers’ rights). We started off the festivities with a sausage sizzle in the courtyard, ably cooked by Aaron and enjoyed by all.

Once everyone had had their fill of sausages, salads, cheese and fruit, we moved inside to play games and eat cake. The boules and ping pong cup games were a hit, as were the quoits. Everyone who came along took away a lucky dip prize, and the winners of the games had an extra (sweet) prize to cherish along with the satisfaction of having won! A few brave souls tried out the Wii carnival games, and had fun shooting ducks, bowling and taking part in all sorts of classic fairground amusements. Most people had a guess at the number of chocolates in the jar, and impressively the winning guess was only one off. Well done to Barbara - she got to take away the whole jar as her prize!

I had fun making cakes for the event, and they were enjoyed over a cuppa and a chat. I also brought some craft materials from home and a few people did some crocheting, origami and other crafty things over the course of the afternoon. My partner and I also spent some time at the weekend making a “Beat the Buzzer” game, which was tried by more than a few people. We have yet to find someone who can get the wand from one end to the other without touching the wire and setting off the buzzer at all, but a few people got half way across. With a bit of practice, I’m sure someone will be able to do it in time…

Ann brought down an impressively large stash of flowery headbands, so a number of us were able to wear flowers in our hair in a very festival way! Flowers, fun and fabulous festivities - what more could we want for a May Day celebration?! And what a great way it was to start the month!

ANZAC Gallery

Just before ANZAC Day, we turned our lounge area into a gallery of photos and recruitment posters from the First World War. The images we got from the Australian War Memorial, and they are a visual reminder of everything that our brave men and women sacrificed for our future. If you haven’t taken a look yet, do pop in and have a wander around the lounge - we will be taking them down this week.

Happy Easter!

We hope all residents and their families had a lovely restful Easter break. It was great to be able to come together last week to catch up after the holiday and have lunch. We had some Easter decorations in the lounge and plenty of chocolate eggs to go round! The food was enjoyed by everyone who came and the atmosphere was friendly and fun as we chatted and enjoyed each other’s company.

Thanks to everyone who came along to make this Easter lunch a happy and enjoyable time for all. I firmly believe you can never have too much chocolate, so I was really pleased when all of the eggs and bunnies had disappeared by the end of the day! All in all a good job well done!

World Health Day

7th April was World Health Day, and in recognition of this we held a healthy morning tea here at the Astra. Natasha from the local pharmacy came to talk to us about nutrition and healthy ageing, as well as giving us some really interesting information about Webster-paks. The talks were helpful and informative and everyone who attended had something positive to say about the morning. We had platters laden with fruit and veggies and nuts, so even the most health-conscious among us couldn’t complain about the nutritional benefit of the snacks on offer. I’ve no doubt this has inspired more than a few of us to do a little bit more exercise, eat a little bit healthier, and take the right number of vitamins in the right way. Thanks to Natasha, and to everyone who came along, for sharing ideas and tips for healthier living. Definitely food for thought.

Happy St Patrick's Day

In honour of St Patrick’s Day at the weekend, BBARV held an Irish-themed lunch on Friday. We had plenty of decorations and encouraged people to dress up. Lots of us turned up in green, and some went further with their costumes! Aaron and I tried our hands at making a hearty Irish stew with traditional soda bread, along with salads and cheese and cakes for dessert. The food was well received and the atmosphere was joyful. Some traditional Irish tunes played in the background as we ate and chatted away the afternoon.

Thanks to everyone who came along to make it such a fun day, and especially to those who got into the spirit of the theme with elaborate costumes (naming no names…Chris!!) A few of us finished off with coffee in the Tratt, and amazed the unsuspecting customers and locals with our outrageous outfits. I’m pretty sure they were laughing with us not at us…!

98th Birthday Party

Our oldest resident, Marie, turned 98 on Tuesday! Everyone was out in force to celebrate with her. We had cake and candles and afternoon tea, and Marie was able to spend some quality time with family and friends. Happy birthday and congratulations to her again from all of us. As one other resident put it, she only looks 68…!

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

This morning Aaron and I provided an assortment of pancakes and toppings for residents to mark Shrove Tuesday and the beginning of Lent. I had made a batter mixture that I cooked onsite so that everyone who wanted a fresh crepe could have one, and Aaron had brought thick pancakes for those who wanted a more traditional Aussie experience. Both types of pancake went down well, and the fruit, cream, jam, maple syrup and lemon and sugar were exclaimed over and relished. It was a lovely way to start the day, and we got a good number of residents joining in the eating and chatting and general merriment. Thanks to everyone who came and we are looking forward to the next event already…

Wine Tasting

Yesterday we had a wine tasting afternoon, in recognition of International Wine and Cheese Day on Monday. It was a great success. We welcomed Goran from Regional Wines of the World to the Astra at 2:30pm. He gave us a tasting notes sheet that we could use to keep a record of which wines we liked best. Some of the group were more experienced with tastings, and so asked lots of questions about region, grape variety and vintage. The rest of us were content to taste and decide what we liked and what we didn’t. Aaron and I organised a couple of cheese platters to go with the wine, so we contentedly munched on cheese and crackers as we worked our way from dry whites to sweet reds, rose and sherry.

Some of the group don’t drink wine, but they were happy to get involved and chat with us over a cup of Coke! Poor Goran had to try hard to get our attention more than a few times, as he moved on to the next wine! The wines he brought were from all over the world, and were a little different to those you would normally buy in the shops. As a result, it was an experience we all enjoyed and were happy to share with our friends and neighbours. A few of us might have even bought a bottle or two at the end, which I’m sure made Goran happy too! Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a fun afternoon.

Seniors' Week

Last week was NSW Seniors’ Week, and there were plenty of events on all over the city. Waverley Council held a number of talks, performances and activities in our area. Residents of the Astra were encouraged to go to the event ‘Being Healthy’. There were talks and question and answer sessions from local experts on ‘Macular degeneration and other vision conditions’, ‘Osteoporosis and bone health’ and the ‘Importance of exercise and relaxation’. Those that went said the talks were interesting and that the Council provided a nice morning tea.

On their return to the Astra, Aaron had prepared a BBQ lunch with meat cooked on the BBQ, as well as salads and cheese and fruit platters. Everyone who attended had a great time chatting and eating together, and Aaron was even told he was a good cook (much to his surprise…and no doubt to his wife’s too!!)




International Puzzle Day

It was International Puzzle Day on Tuesday 29th January, and in recognition of that we held our very own puzzling event here at the Astra. We had a variety of puzzles set out in the common areas for people to pick at throughout the day. Popular were the jigsaws and the shape-based puzzles, but we also had wire and wooden puzzles as well as a range of sudokus, wordsearches and brain teasers. Everyone who joined in had fun and kept their minds active and engaged in coming up with solutions to the problems. We rounded a very enjoyable day off with afternoon tea and cake and admired our handiwork.

Australia Day 2019

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful, warm evening as Astra residents made their way down to the lounge for a relaxing and fun-filled Australia Day celebration. There was food and drink aplenty, with many healthy snacks and lots of lovely fresh fruit to enjoy throughout the evening. All the residents and friends who came had a lovely time, and said it was a night to remember.

Thanks to everyone who helped out and made the event possible - the planners, shoppers, cooks, cleaners and other helpers. We couldn’t have done it without you!

What a Way to Bring in the New Year

It didn’t seem the most auspicious start - with thunder, lightning and rain threatening to be the talking point of this new year’s eve - but this didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the dozen or so hearty souls who braved the elements to take part in a fantastic New Year BBQ. The food was great, drink abundant, and fun was had by all. What a wonderful way to bring in the new year, with friends by our side and laughter ringing in our ears. Roll on Australia Day and the next courtyard culinary extravaganza!

Flickerfest 2019: 11th-20th January

Flickerfest, in its 28th year this year and renowned as Sydney's first beach-side cinema, kicks off the summer cinema season outdoors under the stars at our very own Bondi Beach, screening the best short films from Australia and the world in a unique and relaxed environment. After the Bondi festival, Flickerfest tours to 50+ venues around Australia.

Flickerfest’s Academy® accredited short film competition and special showcase programmes celebrate the latest in cutting edge shorts from around the world.

Visit their website for more information and to take a look at the programme of events for this year.

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful Christmas party last week, full of good food, fun and company. The event kicked off in the lounge with some pre-dinner drinks and chat (and a couple of games of snooker for Sam). At 5:30pm we made our way next door to the Bondi Tratt and were treated to a beautiful Christmas meal on a beautiful spring evening in Bondi. The beach looked stunning and the food was very tasty. Most people had turkey and ham for their main course, along with seasonal veggies and potatoes. The Brussels sprouts were amazing - I’ve no idea how they cooked them but they tasted delicious.

After dinner we returned to the Astra to a sumptuous dessert and the dulcet strains of John Campbell on the guitar and trumpet. Residents were encouraged to dance the night away to a medley of Christmas songs, classic rock numbers and well-known folk tunes. John did a fabulous job and everyone had a great time singing and dancing, or enjoying the music with a glass of bubbly and a dessert in hand. Excitement came halfway through the evening when we drew the raffle prizes - we had lots of individual prizes as well as the traditional big hamper. Jo was the lucky hamper winner, but many of the residents that attended went home with something.

The festivities went on well after I had left, and the music was still going when I did finally go home. Everyone had a lovely time and said how good the food and the music had been. Sam, Aaron and I really enjoyed ourselves too, and it was nice to see the Astra community spirit in action again.

We wish all Astra residents and their friends and families a very Merry Christmas and a happy start to the new year.

Sculpture by the Sea 2018

This October/November saw the coastline between Bondi and Tamarama beaches transformed into the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition. The 22nd anniversary event involved sculptures from more than 100 artists in Australia and across the world. As this is right on our doorstep, Astra residents took the opportunity to see some of these amazing artworks in their stunning natural settings. The day that I went was stinking hot, but made for beautiful pictures full of blue sky and sunshine. And it meant that I was really able to appreciate the Harris Farm stall giving out watermelon for a donation - I’ve never been so happy to see a slice of watermelon!

I really enjoyed the sculptures this year - I thought they were the right mix of interesting and fun, and as ever the hill above Bondi was chock full of art (and people!) Some of the installations along the coast blended perfectly with their surroundings, and others stood out glorious against the backdrop of cloudless sky and rolling seas. Here are a selection of my favourite sculptures from this year’s offering:

Melbourne Cup 2018

What a lovely Melbourne Cup day we had, and what a great turn out from the residents! With racing-themed decorations galore, more hats and fascinators than you could shake a stick at, and some seriously scrummy food, we were fully into the carnival spirit even before the big race itself.

With $2 and $5 sweeps up for grabs there was everything to play for, and this year we were able to run two full sweeps of each value. So more prizes than ever were won and the stakes were at an all-time high!

Everyone was on fine form and when it came to the race that stops the nation, there was shouting and cheering and encouragement on all sides. A fun-filled party, with great food and great company…that’s what it’s all about.

Christmas in July

What a night this was! The tables were decorated, the raffle prizes displayed and the dance area primed, as we gathered in the lounge at 5pm for a drink before making our way to the Tratt for Christmas dinner. Alasdair and his staff were friendly as ever, and there was a nice selection of meats, veggies and potatoes, not to mention white and red wines. I had the ham, and I can say it was lovely, especially with the wonderfully tasty beans and potatoes roasted to perfection. And the red wine wasn't half bad either!

After dinner, we headed back to the Astra where our entertainer for the night, John Campbell, was setting up. John was new to the Astra, but we were very happy to have him to sing and play the night away. During and after dessert, we were treated to a mixture of Christmas, swing, folk and rock n roll tunes. There was a goodly amount of dancing and silliness all the way along, with only a short break to draw the raffle and give thanks to the residents who had given their time to help organise the night.

It was lovely to welcome back former long time resident Margaret Keen for the night, and everyone relished the opportunity to catch up with her over the course of the evening. All in all, a wonderful night and a great chance to celebrate with friends old and new. Happy Christmas in July!