Extended Technology Workshop with BBQ Lunch

Yesterday morning we had our usual Technology Workshop, but with an extended presentation and a BBQ lunch at the end. We began with morning tea and biccies as Aaron took us to the important world of staying safe in a technological age. The presentation covered general topics of privacy, security and setting passwords, as well as keeping software up to date and doing regular back ups. Then it went more in depth into fraud, scams and spam; what to do and, more importantly, what not to do! It was a very well-attended event and residents and friends from outside alike learnt some crucial lessons on how to stay safe whilst having fun online and on your phone.

At the end of the workshop, Aaron and I started preparing for our BBQ lunch, with lots of help from residents. Thanks to Patricia and everyone who lent a hand putting food and plates on tables, while Aaron cooked sausages and onions on the BBQ outside. It was a little brisk to eat outside, so once the food was cooked we brought it in and had a toasty warm lunch in the lounge instead. Aaron and I were on hand to chat with people about their technological issues and to take a look at their devices. I got lucky with a question just as the washing up was starting, so I managed to miss out on all of that fun!

Thanks to everyone who came - it was our biggest workshop so far! Remember we are always in the office to answer questions and help with issues, so don’t be shy to come and ask us to flex our technological muscles from time to time. We run our monthly workshops in conjunction with the Government’s Be Connected program. If you’d like to find out more, visit their website for information, tutorials and more.

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!

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…!

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…

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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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.