Photography Day

It was a nice change of pace for us to have Guy Wilkinson, professional photographer, come to talk to us about his work last week. He showed us some of his most recent photos in a presentation, and told us about how he got into the profession. Guy mainly focuses on photographing buildings, but his enthusiasm for anything photographic was evident as he spoke. He spoke about how taking a photo of someone can show you their soul and be a very intimate experience. We discussed the interest and challenge of wedding photography, of school portrait photography, and of wildlife photography. Guy explained his editing process, and surprised us all with the length of time it takes him to edit one photograph.

Guy had his Canon camera with him and he talked about the benefits of different lenses and filters. He also had his new iPhone (with three cameras!) that he is still enjoying playing with. He showed us some tricks to focusing and changing the light levels when you take a photo on a phone. Guy’s final key message to all of us was “keep taking photos”, whether it’s with a camera or a phone, and enjoy yourself with photography. Next time we’ll plan for a practical photography workshop, where we go outside and take photos of things…

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!!

Talk Like a Pirate Party

Arrrrr me hearties!! In recognition of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we had a pirate-themed party with afternoon tea, plenty of decorations and a colourful array of costumes. It was a lot of fun to gather together and share some food with the skull and crossbones in the background and the sound of pirate patter in the air! The conversation wound its way round to real life pirates and their bad behaviour, and even to the question “where’s me rum?”! Much enjoyment was had by all and we all felt uplifted by the opportunity to have a chat with friends and neighbours.

Proud Mary Murray River Cruise Presentation

Yesterday afternoon we were pleased to welcome Lisa, a representative of Proud Mary, to the Astra to give a presentation on their luxury Murray River and Barossa Valley experience. Lisa talked us through the itinerary, and then showed us a short video of testimonials from previous participants. The scenery there is stunning and the food and accommodation on the ships looks lovely. I think there were more than a few interested parties at the end of it, and Lisa stayed for a while to answer questions and help people to fill in forms.

Along with the presentation, we were treated to wine and nibbles in the form of cheese and biscuits, dips and fruit. It was a nice way to spend an hour at the end of the day, and thanks to Lisa and to all those that came along to hear. I look forward to seeing photos and hearing stories of any residents from the Astra going to that area. It’s certainly on my bucket list now!

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.

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.

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!

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.

Bake a Biscuit Day

Today is “Bake a Biscuit Day” and so I did just that! We thought it would be nice to have some home-baked biscuits to welcome people into the Astra for this day, so we set up a stand on the table in the foyer. All day long people have been coming and going and grabbing a biscuit, as well as looking at the fun biscuit trivia that Aaron put together. We had a selection of chocolate chip cookies, shortbread and Anzac biscuits to satisfy any biscuit lover out there - and I’m sure we made a few new friends along the way too!

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!

World Health Day

7th April was World Health Day, and in recognition of this we held a healthy morning tea here at the Astra. Natasha from the local pharmacy came to talk to us about nutrition and healthy ageing, as well as giving us some really interesting information about Webster-paks. The talks were helpful and informative and everyone who attended had something positive to say about the morning. We had platters laden with fruit and veggies and nuts, so even the most health-conscious among us couldn’t complain about the nutritional benefit of the snacks on offer. I’ve no doubt this has inspired more than a few of us to do a little bit more exercise, eat a little bit healthier, and take the right number of vitamins in the right way. Thanks to Natasha, and to everyone who came along, for sharing ideas and tips for healthier living. Definitely food for thought.

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…

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.

Sculpture by the Sea 2018

This October/November saw the coastline between Bondi and Tamarama beaches transformed into the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition. The 22nd anniversary event involved sculptures from more than 100 artists in Australia and across the world. As this is right on our doorstep, Astra residents took the opportunity to see some of these amazing artworks in their stunning natural settings. The day that I went was stinking hot, but made for beautiful pictures full of blue sky and sunshine. And it meant that I was really able to appreciate the Harris Farm stall giving out watermelon for a donation - I’ve never been so happy to see a slice of watermelon!

I really enjoyed the sculptures this year - I thought they were the right mix of interesting and fun, and as ever the hill above Bondi was chock full of art (and people!) Some of the installations along the coast blended perfectly with their surroundings, and others stood out glorious against the backdrop of cloudless sky and rolling seas. Here are a selection of my favourite sculptures from this year’s offering: