Oktoberfest Bonanza

Last week we celebrated Oktoberfest in style at the Astra, with food, beer tasting, costumes, decorations and traditional music. It was a really fun, well-attended event. Aaron did a sterling job as ever on the BBQ, cooking sausages, onions and chicken schnitzel. In addition, we had bread rolls, salad, cheeses, and plenty of fruit. For dessert, we enjoyed a sumptuous black forest gateau with lashings of cream and chocolate.

The decorations were Bavarian-themed, and provided a nice back drop to the crucial part of the proceedings; beer tasting! We had a variety of German and Bavarian-style beers, each with their own flavours and stories. And after the beer, with a contentedly full stomach, it seemed appropriate for us to finish with a few sips of butterscotch schnapps. Whether drinking or not, it was great to be able to relax and chat over lunch with the strains of waltzes in our ears. A few of us even managed to dress up for the occasion, with traditional(ish) clothes and scarves…and pinnies galore! Lots of fun and laughter was had by all, and our thanks go to everyone who came and made it such a lovely occasion. Prost!!

Book Lovers' Day

It was perhaps slightly quieter than normal this afternoon on a windy Friday as we sat down to an hour of chatting about books and all things literary, in celebration of Book Lovers’ Day. Resident Cleo had prepared a short talk about significant books and authors, and we had prepared some information about local libraries and a literary trivia quiz. Despite the low numbers, those of us who were there had great fun discussing our favourite books with gusto, and here’s hoping that the next book-themed event is a real sensation.

Christmas in July 2019

What a beautiful Christmas in July celebration we had this year. The lounge was decked out in stars and sparkles, and we all had plenty of good food and drink throughout the evening. The Tratt meal was lovely - huge thanks to Alasdair and his team for organising it for us. Once we had eaten and drunk our fill of dinner, we headed back to the Astra for desserts, music and catching up. The desserts were organised by some of the residents, and they were superb - lots of little cakes and an extremely decadent trifle. The drinks and the raffle prizes were put on by BBARV for the residents. Seven lucky people went away with raffle prizes that night; from wine to jigsaws to beauty gift sets.

After we had called the raffle and everyone had eaten dessert, we danced the night away to the dulcet strains of John Campbell’s guitar and trumpet. We do like a good knees up here at the Astra, and this evening was no exception. A great time was had by all, and this shindig set us up nicely for the events coming up in the latter half of the year.

An enthusiastic attempt at the YMCA dance!

50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, Week of Celebrations

What a week we had here last week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing! We had our space themed decorations up in the lounge all week, and events on every day. Each afternoon we showed a space movie on the big screen, complete with popcorn and cakes to munch on. There was a good turnout to these movie afternoons, and we had fun turning the lounge into a makeshift movie theatre. Before the movie on Monday, we had a short space trivia quiz, which tested our general knowledge (and ability to guess the answers to multiple choice questions). Then on Tuesday we had a special technology workshop that looked in depth at features of websites. In keeping with the theme, we used NASA’s website as an example, and we spent some time looking at all the wonders that NASA has to offer; pictures, videos, blogs, podcasts…to infinity and beyond! Moreover, all week we had space jigsaw puzzles in the lounge to be completed by anyone who wanted to, and more than one or two chats about where people were on that day 50 years ago were had over a cake and a puzzle piece.

Landing the first person on the moon was such an amazing achievement and a global event, and it is only fitting that we should have commemorated it all week. Thanks to those who came and took part in any or all of our gatherings.

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!

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!

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…!

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!

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.

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!

Getting ready for Christmas in July

You'd better watch out...it's that time of year again! July is now in full swing, and we are looking forward to our Christmas in July celebration next week. Behind the scenes, the elves are busying themselves organising the food, the wine, the music and the raffle prizes. This year the Bondi Tratt will be offering us the option of turkey and maple-glazed ham, roast veggies and potatoes. The wine will be flowing, and the conversation must surely be merry and bright.

After-dinner entertainment will be provided by comedian and singer John Campbell on the trumpet and guitar, playing all the rock n' roll, swing and folk classics. Before we get stuck into the dancing, we will have a beautiful dessert prepared by our very own residents. The raffle promises to be bigger and better than ever before, so get in quick for tickets to win some amazing prizes. This truly is the year for coming along to a rockin' Christmas in July party - sign up in the office now if you haven't already.

Our Oldest Resident Turns 97!

Huge CONGRATULATIONS to Marie, who turned 97 last week! She celebrated in style at the Astra on Sunday, where she was joined by family and friends and many of the other residents. There was food aplenty and drinks galore, and the occasion really served to give a fitting tribute to this wonderful lady. Testament to the family atmosphere, everyone had a lovely time talking to new people and making new friends throughout the day.

Marie has had a fascinating life - working as a nurse for many years, she has so many stories to tell and experiences to pass on. Still living in independent accommodation at 97, she is truly an inspiration to us all. For she's a jolly good fellow, and...Hip Hip Hooray!

Australia Day 2018

Well the sun was out and shining on a nice warm Australia Day Friday, and the Astra had its usual good attendance at this evening of great food and great company. Aussie flags were out in decorative force, and there was plenty of food and drink for everyone who wanted it. Sandwiches, sausages and chicken were enjoyed by all, and the picnic style provided a nice laid-back change from the usual BBQ event. A contingent of tennis fans adjourned to the TV area to watch the men’s semi-finals of the Australian Open, preceded by a special Australia Day ceremony. Sadly the match was cut short with an injury for Chung in the third set, but nonetheless it was an interesting mix of styles and Federer played in his usual majestic fashion. A real Aussie tradition, the tennis rounded up a relaxing celebration of Astra friends, Bondi weather and Australian spirit.

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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!