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…

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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…!

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…!

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.

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!