Table Tennis Competition

We held the first ever Astra table tennis competition this month. And what fun it was! We had two groups and the competitors played their group matches over the course of a week. Once we had finished the group stage, it was on to the main event - one day of semi finals and the grand final.

All the matches were bravely fought and a group of spectators gathered to cheer us on. In the end though, Noni was too good for the rest of us…she became our first table tennis champion! Congratulations to her and to everyone who took part. We will surely include this in our social calendar from now on.

Devonshire Tea Day

Friday was ‘Devonshire Tea Day’, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a luxurious tea with scones, jam and cream to take us into the weekend! The sun was shining outside and it was a great atmosphere inside the lounge as we enjoyed our decadent afternoon tea. I made the scones (including having a go at gluten-free scones, which I’d never tried before), and Aaron set up the cake stands and made the tables look glamorous. The fancy tablecloths in place, we made sure to put out all of the accoutrements of a good tea - different fruit jams, double cream, butter, a variety of black, fruit and herbal teas, and bowls of fruit.

People arrived all the way through the afternoon and it was lovely to have so many of us gathered together to chat and share in the week’s news. Thanks to everyone who came - it makes such a difference when we have a full lounge and the sound of laughter drifting through to the foyer. Next up…Moon Landing Day 50th Anniversary celebration week. Looking forward to it already!

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.

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.

Special Movie Screenings! Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and Beautiful Bondi

What an event this was! Lots of residents and friends turned up to see some recently-released footage of Bondi circa 1926, as well as the iconic Australian tale 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll'. The lounge room was full of excited chatter and the wafting scent of popcorn as we settled down to an afternoon of movie magic. Beautiful Bondi is a silent movie showing aspects of Bondi and the surrounding beaches from the 1920s. The swimming costumes, hairdos and fishing suits (the full suit, hat and pipe whilst fishing caused more than a few laughs!) were wonderful, and the footage of the Astra (then the Hotel International) being built was really interesting. Amazing to see the foundations of the building we live and work in being constructed, and an artist's impression of what it would look like when it was finished! 

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The main event of the day was a classic movie based on the play by Ray Lawler about two sugarcane cutters who come south to visit their girlfriends in the off season each year. Roo brings with him a Kewpie Doll for Olive, which makes it her 17th doll. This summer, however, is destined to be different from the others - Olive's friend has got married and things just aren't the same. The two male characters, Roo and Barney, have also had a falling out about work. 

The movie had a nice feel to it, although the plot differed from the play in places. 'Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' is a pioneering Australian play written by Ray Lawler, first performed in November 1955. The play is almost unanimously considered by scholars of literature to be the most historically significant in Australian theatre history, openly and authentically portraying distinctly Australian life and characters. It was one of the first truly naturalistic Australian theatre productions.

Great fun was had by all watching the drama unfold. In places it was very funny, and this contrasted with the serious themes of lost youth and evolving passions. I enjoyed the feel of the movie, and it was lovely to see footage of Bondi and the Sydney harbour. Some scenes were filmed at the Astra, and it was interesting to see the inside of what would have been a very grand hotel. We wrapped up our afternoon with some tea and cake, and chatted about the images we had just seen. Thanks to Aaron for finding the movie, and I hope we can have some similar events soon.