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.

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.

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…!

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.

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.

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! 

17th.jpg

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.

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!

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

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.