New Year's Eve BBQ

On Sunday afternoon, New Year's Eve, Jim got out his BBQ tongs and Patricia filled two bowls with salad in preparation for the celebratory BBQ in the courtyard. On the menu were prawns, sausages, salads, wine and soft drinks, as well as desserts for anyone who still had room after. We had a good turn out of residents and guests, and spent a very pleasant few hours chatting and enjoying spending time in community together. The weather wasn’t too hot and it was a truly lovely evening for a BBQ.

After a few hours, live coverage of the city fireworks was shown in the lounge and everyone enjoyed watching the displays. Thanks to all those who helped to make this event happen – shopping, cooking, cleaning and hosting – it was very well received and much appreciated. What a great way to start off the new year at our beloved Astra.

The Astra's Christmas Party

I can honestly say I have not had this much fun in a long time! What a fantastic night. The festivities kicked off at 5pm with drinks and chat in the lounge before we headed over to the Tratt next door for a beautiful meal. I had the ham and it was delicious, and those who had the turkey said that it was wonderful too. The potatoes and veggies were lovely, and the wine was excellent. All in all, everyone agreed that it was the best Astra Christmas meal we've ever had. Thanks to Alasdair and his team at the Tratt for a wonderful time.

We strolled back home full of food, wine and good cheer, and arrived to hear the dulcet tones of Keff McCulloch coming to us from the lounge. Amazingly, there was more food to eat - piles of mince pies and homemade baclava, bowls full of Chris' famous trifles, and more! Once we had topped up our wine glasses and refilled our dessert bowls (yes, somehow I did manage to have seconds!), it was time for some short speeches and to draw the raffle. Thanks to Penny and Cleo for all their hard work over the course of the year, and of course to Patricia and the Social Committee too - many rounds of applause were received and thank you gifts exchanged. I drew the raffle and we all waited with baited breath to see who would win a prize. In the end, Jo's friend who won the hamper asked for it to be split among the Astra residents, so it felt like everyone had won!

With the formalities of the evening out of the way, Keff started up again and people began to dance. Having done some of my share of the cleaning up, I was happy to join the group on the "dance floor". It's been a while since I've done any dancing, but it was such great fun to join in...especially once he started playing some good old rock and roll. We boogied, did the twist and I even got in a bit of air guitar! As I said, I can't remember when I've had so much fun. Keff is a superb musician and a great guy, and we all thoroughly enjoyed his set. I hope we can encourage him to come and play at the Astra again soon.

I left for home around 10:30pm, as Keff was packing up and things were generally winding down. I'm told some residents didn't get to their beds for another few hours after I left though - good on them! Roll on the next party, that's what I say...and Merry Christmas to everyone.

Carols Evening

Last Tuesday evening was the Astra's inaugural carol singing night, and what a success it was! We sang a mixture of traditional carols and more contemporary Christmas songs, as well as some well-known folk tunes. Gathered round the piano, we tucked into nibbles and drinks and took advantage of the opportunity to chat in between songs. Tables were decorated and there was a real festive spirit in the air as residents, friends and family members all joined in with gusto. Patricia and I hosted the night, making sure everyone had food and drink, encouraging them to come to the Christmas party this Thursday, and announcing the songs. 

Jeannine played piano, as well as providing us with some fantastic desserts; a beautiful chocolate wreath cake topped with fruit, and cream-filled profiteroles. Thanks to her for giving us both music and sweet treats - two of my favourite things! Noni and Jo sang solos, and everyone joined in with an impromptu rendition of 'Waltzing Matilda'. It was agreed that we should do more sing-a-longs in the future, and I for one look forward to that. Thanks to everyone who came along and made it the fun event that it was...and Merry Christmas to all!

It's Christmas...!

Last week the Astra well and truly got into the Christmas spirit; ornaments and tinsel were bought, the step-ladder was brought out of storage, and decorating began in earnest. We decided on a blue/green/purple theme for the foyer area, in keeping with the bluey-green architraves and other heritage features. This year we were fortunate to have a second Christmas tree donated to us, so we put our 'new' tree in the window area, for people both inside and outside to see. With coloured lights and baubles a-plenty, it definitely has made our days feel merry and bright. With tinsel and baubles hung from the reception desk, and baubles and a wreath on the fountain, our Bondi Beach wonderland is complete.

We decided on a red/yellow/green theme for the lounge area, with tinsel hung from the ceiling and wound around the pillars. The effect was finished off with another Christmas tree, standing next to a table with Santa and his reindeer taking pride of place. Now all we need is some carol singing and a big Christmas party and we're all set for the big day celebrations!

Eastern Suburbs and Southern Sydney Retirement Villages Expo

Another fantastic Retirement Villages Expo was held this weekend at the Novotel in Brighton-le-sands, this time specifically for Eastern Suburbs and Southern Sydney villages. It was a great event in a lovely location, and many people came throughout the day to ask questions and express interest. Aaron did an excellent job chatting and helping with queries, and said afterwards that it had been a really good day. This time we had more posters with pictures of the Astra common areas, as well as artist's impressions of what the refurbished areas might look like in the next couple of years. It's going to be a really exciting time for us in the near future, and it was great to be able to share this vision with prospective residents. 

The La Perouse room of the Novotel at Brighton-le-sands was a fitting venue for the event, and lots of people came to visit. I'm sure the good weather encouraged the crowds to head to the beach for a walk or a swim, and what better way to start (or indeed finish) the day than to have a wander round the expo?! Thanks to everyone who organised the event, and to all those who came by to have a chat. We really loved seeing you, and are looking forward to showing you around the Astra soon...

Melbourne Cup 2017

What a day for the races! It might have been a little cold down in Melbourne, but here at the Astra we had a picnic BBQ in the comfort of the communal lounge. The sun was shining in the courtyard as Aaron fired up the BBQ and got to work on the sausages. I put up some last minute handmade racing-themed decorations, whilst Patricia and Adele made salads, chicken, roasted pumpkin and baclava in the kitchen. 

The festivities began at 1pm, with drinks, food and general catching up. I set up a table in the corner with $2 and $5 sweeps, and we managed to fill one sheet apiece. After lunch we called the sweeps, and everyone settled down in front of the projector screen to watch the opening TV coverage.

3 o'clock was the time we were all waiting for, and as it drew near there was a definite feeling of anticipation. From Melbourne Cup newbies (i.e. me!) to true aficionados (having been to the live event on a number of occasions), we gathered together to enjoy the race that stops the nation. Our most recent resident, Fiorella, won the $2 sweep, and Aaron won the $5 sweep: Rekindling (22) was the horse to beat this year, with Johannes Vermeer (7) in second and Max Dynamite (9) in third. I can't honestly say I had any idea of which horses would do well, but as the sweeps were drawn randomly it was all to play for. Despite the majority of us not winning anything, we had a great time. It was a lovely opportunity to catch up with friends and family, and to be a part of a viewing audience that was watching all around Sydney, and indeed the country. I feel really inducted into this key Aussie tradition now...and long may it continue!

Sculpture by the Sea 2017

Unbelievably it's that time again! In its 21st year, Sculpture by the Sea 2017 opened on 19th October and runs through until this coming weekend. This event is now synonymous with Bondi in spring. People come from all over the country, and the world, to see the new display of sculptures in this breathtaking coastal landscape that we are lucky enough to call home. 

This year has the usual blend of nature-inspired, thought-provoking and quirky exhibits that we have come to associate with the event. Although perhaps not quite as varied as the past couple of years, there are still some lovely structures and interesting ideas. How fantastic that this event is totally free and starts right across the road from the Astra! What a great way to spend a day in the beautiful Sydney springtime...

Here is a selection of my favourite sculptures from this year:

Sydney Retirement Villages Expo Report

The Astra had its first Retirement Villages Expo experience this weekend at the Epping Club! By all accounts it was a great event that allowed us to show off our wonderful village and answer the questions that people from all over Sydney had come to ask. Although the rain on Sunday might have put some people off, it was still a busy and productive couple of days. In the quieter periods, Aaron was able to fit in some competitor research and to look at the different marketing ideas that other villages had come with. Next time, we will be able to do even bigger and better things with our stall! 

If you weren't able to make it to Epping this time, why not come to the Novotel at Brighton-le-sands on 19th November and see us at the Eastern Suburbs and Southern Sydney Expo. We will have plenty of info, lollies and pics and we'd love to see you there.

Eastern Suburbs Private Hospital Afternoon

On the afternoon of 19th October, Astra residents were joined by representatives from the Eastern Suburbs Private Hospital for an afternoon tea in the lounge. Lucinda and Alexandra came to discuss the range of options available to residents through the hospital, including rehabilitation, therapies, falls prevention and pain management. The information was well-received and a good time was had by all. Everyone was given their own personal stress-relieving device (also known as a stress ball!) and the Eastern Suburbs ladies answered questions and gave out information on a wide range of topics. Thanks ladies!

Sydney Retirement Village Expo, 22nd and 23rd October

The Astra will be exhibiting at the Sydney Retirement Village Expo on 22nd and 23rd October. This free event is taking place at the Epping Club, and will be a really great chance for you gather information on retirement villages all over the city. Please come along to check out our stand and have a chat with us. We'd love to talk to you about living at the Astra and answer any questions you may have.

Whether you or someone you love is exploring the idea of over 55's Resort Living, or looking for a retirement village that offers independent living, assisted or specialist care, this expo can help you. The Epping Club has its own multi-level car park for members and guests. There is an additional large car park a few doors down next to Coles supermarket. For further information, contact the expo team on mail@dorsal.com.au 

If you can't make it to Epping, we will also be exhibiting at the Eastern Suburbs and Southern Sydney Retirement Village Expo at the Novotel in Brighton-le-sands on 19th November. And don't forget to watch this space for more accounts and photos of Astra events and activities coming up in the next couple of months...

Open Day Report

Wow, what a morning! This was such a lovely, relaxed event for visitors and residents alike. People came from all over to look round and to enjoy a beautiful Devonshire tea. Some of the current residents were surprised but happy to meet people they knew from the local area and to catch up with former acquaintances. There was much laughter and chatting as Aaron took to the stage to give his presentation on living at the Astra. After he had spoken, there was time for a good Q&A session, with lots of thoughtful questions asked. Penny and some of the other residents helped Sam and Aaron to provide detailed answers and to give that all-important inside perspective.

Once everyone had filled up on Devonshire tea and all questions had been dealt with, it was time for the tours. One group went up, one group went down, and everyone was able to see all that they wanted to. We had some really positive feedback from people, whether they were thinking of buying or just wanting to take a look for the future. They marveled over the beautiful building and fabulous location. All in all, I think it’s fair to say that it was a highly successful day. Perhaps the weather could have been a little bit nicer, to show off our beautiful beach to its best effect; despite the grey, however, I heard one guest saying “isn’t it a fantastic Bondi day today?” It just goes to show that even the clouds don’t dampen the spectacular effect of our home at Bondi Beach.

Astra Open Day

Come on down to the Astra's open day on Saturday 30th September from 10am! There will be a complimentary Devonshire morning tea, as well as plenty of information, village tours and an opportunity to meet some of our existing residents. Here's an opportunity to find out more about why people love to live at the Astra, across the road from one of Australia's most famous beaches. Don't miss out - book now on (02) 9365 3344.

The astra open day 30th september 2017

Bus trip to Riverside Gardens

It was a bright sunny day and the sky was a brilliant blue. We all piled into the bus, provided by BBARV, and were quickly whisked away on a journey of discovery. This journey was to take us all the way to North Richmond to visit a retirement village called Riverside Gardens. The name comes from the village's location near to the meandering Hawkesbury River.

The residents of Riverside Gardens were very welcoming and put on a lovely morning tea for us. We traded stories and asked many questions about how their village operates. The discussion on the differences between our respective villages was fascinating, and I'm sure encouraged everyone to think about things in a new light. After morning tea had been cleaned up, we were taken on a guided tour of the village. We were impressed with how spacious and new it all was (though what can you expect of a village still in the process of being built with lots of land to spread out into?).

After the tour had built up an appetite, we decided upon lunch. We had planned to go to the North Richmond Panthers Club across the road, but their kitchen renovation was behind schedule and they couldn’t accommodate us. So we jumped back on the bus and headed into Richmond for some lunch. Having been fed and watered again, it was time to make the journey home. We compared notes of our experience at Riverside Gardens. One thing we did agree upon is that it was all so different to Bondi. There was no high-rise, no traffic and the country air was fresh – There’s no place like home! 

Murray River Cruises Presentation

Today Astra residents experienced a fun, informative morning presentation on the splendour of cruising the Murray River and the wonder of the scenic Indian Pacific Train trip. Ably led by the Proud Mary host, Adriana Malan, she talked us through what to expect, where to go, how it all works, and the prices involved, in making a journey along the Murray River. The spread of food and drink that came along with the presentation was splendid and well received by all who attended.

Adriana painted a picture of the scenes we could expect to see, the cuisine we could taste, the fresh countryside aroma we could smell and the sounds of the native wildlife we could hear. This was all to be a part of the experience of being on the magnificent and luxurious MV Proud Mary. With only 18 cabins, the personalised service is second to none. If you missed the presentation and would like to know more about the river cruise, please see the office or check out the Proud Mary website.

Fire Drill at the Astra

A successful fire drill was held for Astra residents and staff last week, attended by the Fire & Rescue NSW team from Bondi. The Village Manager Aaron gave a short presentation advising us on what to do in the event of an alarm. Some of his handy tips included keeping a torch close by in case of power outages, and making sure that fire doors are closed properly to minimise the spread of fire. The drill itself was supervised by our friendly local fireies and all went according to plan. The residents practised leaving the building and assembling out front, the office staff practised directing and checking that everyone made it out safely...and we rounded off the session by practising our tea-making skills with a celebratory cuppa, hot pie and slice of cheesecake! All in all it was a very successful exercise, and a reinforcing of our Astra community spirit.

Christmas in July

The evening began sedately enough; tables were re-arranged and supplies were sought. As the time grew near, however, the buzz became more noticeable. Slowly, yet surely, the residents began to gather – one, two, a few, half a dozen, a dozen and finally almost half the village had arrived! The mood was merry and bright as we kicked off the proceedings with drinks and chat.

After drinks, we walked next door to the Bondi Tratt for a scrumptious meal of turkey, ham and all the trimmings. The atmosphere was festive, the conversation lively, the laughter infectious. Having had our fill of the feast, we retired to the Astra to continue the fun. Music and entertainment was provided by the lovely Keff. Having eaten more dessert than you would think possible after such a huge meal, there was excitement as the raffle was drawn. The prizes were provided by Sam, and the Social Committee worked tirelessly to put the whole shebang together. Festivities continued with dancing and singing to Keff's smooth tunes (even Sam and Aaron joined in the silliness!). 

Finally the music faded, the plates were washed and Christmas in July was all wrapped up for another year. The weary Astra folks put their heads on their pillows, happy and joyous and full of good cheer.

Fitzroy Falls Day Trip

Great fun was had by all on our day out to Fitzroy Falls on 6th June. Our numbers may have been a little smaller than usual, but we more than made up for it in noise and good spirits…just ask Mark our driver! The outlook for the weather in Sydney wasn't fantastic, but the further south we drove the better it became. Despite the forecast, we had mostly sunny weather (albeit with a misty view once we got to the falls). After a short stop at Mittagong Maccas for a coffee, we arrived at Fitzroy Falls and strolled up the boardwalk to look at the falls. Due to recent rain, there was a spectacular amount of water flowing down into the depths. Standing at the top of this 81m high waterfall, this was not a view for the vertigo-prone!

Having had our fill of the wonderful bush-fresh air, waterfall lookouts and retail therapy in the gift shop, we went for a lovely pub lunch. The Burrawong Hotel is a beautiful bistro-pub with an open fire and sweeping views out over the local countryside. We managed to get a quiet corner area with big windows and lots of space to spread out and enjoy our food. The food was excellent, the bar well-stocked, and the company superb. In my first role as official ‘Trip Photographer’ I insisted on taking group shots at every available opportunity!

Once we had all eaten and drunk our fill it was time to get back onto the bus for the journey home. Former local Noni directed us on a wonderful country route back to the highway…much to the frustration of Mark! We all loved seeing the rolling hills, lakes and resident animals (sheep, cows and yes, even horses!) though, and we were not late home at all, despite Mark’s gloomy predictions. We serenaded the landscape with our own Astra versions of Advance Australia Fair and Pub With No Beer to while away the time. Some of us may have fallen asleep on the bus…but as there are no photos to prove it I’m claiming ignorance! Back home at around 4pm, just in time for a cuppa and a rest (well, that’s what I did anyway!) Bring on the next trip, I’m already looking forward to it…