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.

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.

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…!

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.

Technology Workshop - Creating Documents

This month we continued with our technology workshops by discussing how to create documents of all sorts. We first looked at word processing documents like Microsoft Word, Apple Pages and Google Docs, and Aaron showed everyone how to make and edit a Word document.

Microsoft office documents

Microsoft office documents

Next we looked at making spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers and Google Sheets, and we played around with making a budget in Excel. Finally, we examined the programs available to make presentations, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote and Google Slides, and began to format our own PowerPoint presentation.

apple iwork documents

apple iwork documents

Everyone learned a lot from this session, including Aaron and Anna who were presenting!! There were handouts to choose from at the end, and just time enough for a cup of tea and a biscuit before lunch. It was lovely to see so many people there, even though it was a cold, wet and miserable day outside. 

google suite documents

google suite documents

If you missed the last few workshops, please do still consider coming along to one in the future - we will continue once a month to discuss a different topic and to answer any questions you have relating to your devices. The workshops are free and open to anyone over 55, so do watch out for upcoming events. We are running these sessions in conjunction with the Be Connected government initiative (see their website for more information and for lots of helpful tutorials). 

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.

Technology Workshop One - Cyber Security

This month we had our first technology workshop on the important issue of cyber security and safety measures to take when using computers, phones and tablets. We are running these sessions in conjunction with the Be Connected government initiative (see their website for more information and helpful tutorials). The workshop was well attended and was a definite success. We began with a video on what to watch out for with viruses, scams, spam and other aspects of security (click here to watch it for yourself). We then talked about what makes a secure password, what to look for when using a website, different types of anti-virus software, and how to avoid viruses, scams and spam.

We had plenty of time for questions and comments as we went along, and everyone got involved with the discussions. Afterwards, Aaron and I were on hand to help with individual issues on the attendees' personal devices. For a first session it went excellently, and we are now well on our way to getting the thirty signups that we need to get our grant to invest in some new communal computers. We will continue to have sessions once a month for the rest of the year, so watch out for upcoming events. The workshops are free and open to anyone over 55.

Eastern Suburbs Private Hospital Afternoon

On the afternoon of 19th October, Astra residents were joined by representatives from the Eastern Suburbs Private Hospital for an afternoon tea in the lounge. Lucinda and Alexandra came to discuss the range of options available to residents through the hospital, including rehabilitation, therapies, falls prevention and pain management. The information was well-received and a good time was had by all. Everyone was given their own personal stress-relieving device (also known as a stress ball!) and the Eastern Suburbs ladies answered questions and gave out information on a wide range of topics. Thanks ladies!

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

Bus trip to Riverside Gardens

It was a bright sunny day and the sky was a brilliant blue. We all piled into the bus, provided by BBARV, and were quickly whisked away on a journey of discovery. This journey was to take us all the way to North Richmond to visit a retirement village called Riverside Gardens. The name comes from the village's location near to the meandering Hawkesbury River.

The residents of Riverside Gardens were very welcoming and put on a lovely morning tea for us. We traded stories and asked many questions about how their village operates. The discussion on the differences between our respective villages was fascinating, and I'm sure encouraged everyone to think about things in a new light. After morning tea had been cleaned up, we were taken on a guided tour of the village. We were impressed with how spacious and new it all was (though what can you expect of a village still in the process of being built with lots of land to spread out into?).

After the tour had built up an appetite, we decided upon lunch. We had planned to go to the North Richmond Panthers Club across the road, but their kitchen renovation was behind schedule and they couldn’t accommodate us. So we jumped back on the bus and headed into Richmond for some lunch. Having been fed and watered again, it was time to make the journey home. We compared notes of our experience at Riverside Gardens. One thing we did agree upon is that it was all so different to Bondi. There was no high-rise, no traffic and the country air was fresh – There’s no place like home! 

Murray River Cruises Presentation

Today Astra residents experienced a fun, informative morning presentation on the splendour of cruising the Murray River and the wonder of the scenic Indian Pacific Train trip. Ably led by the Proud Mary host, Adriana Malan, she talked us through what to expect, where to go, how it all works, and the prices involved, in making a journey along the Murray River. The spread of food and drink that came along with the presentation was splendid and well received by all who attended.

Adriana painted a picture of the scenes we could expect to see, the cuisine we could taste, the fresh countryside aroma we could smell and the sounds of the native wildlife we could hear. This was all to be a part of the experience of being on the magnificent and luxurious MV Proud Mary. With only 18 cabins, the personalised service is second to none. If you missed the presentation and would like to know more about the river cruise, please see the office or check out the Proud Mary website.

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.

Fitzroy Falls Day Trip

Great fun was had by all on our day out to Fitzroy Falls on 6th June. Our numbers may have been a little smaller than usual, but we more than made up for it in noise and good spirits…just ask Mark our driver! The outlook for the weather in Sydney wasn't fantastic, but the further south we drove the better it became. Despite the forecast, we had mostly sunny weather (albeit with a misty view once we got to the falls). After a short stop at Mittagong Maccas for a coffee, we arrived at Fitzroy Falls and strolled up the boardwalk to look at the falls. Due to recent rain, there was a spectacular amount of water flowing down into the depths. Standing at the top of this 81m high waterfall, this was not a view for the vertigo-prone!

Having had our fill of the wonderful bush-fresh air, waterfall lookouts and retail therapy in the gift shop, we went for a lovely pub lunch. The Burrawong Hotel is a beautiful bistro-pub with an open fire and sweeping views out over the local countryside. We managed to get a quiet corner area with big windows and lots of space to spread out and enjoy our food. The food was excellent, the bar well-stocked, and the company superb. In my first role as official ‘Trip Photographer’ I insisted on taking group shots at every available opportunity!

Once we had all eaten and drunk our fill it was time to get back onto the bus for the journey home. Former local Noni directed us on a wonderful country route back to the highway…much to the frustration of Mark! We all loved seeing the rolling hills, lakes and resident animals (sheep, cows and yes, even horses!) though, and we were not late home at all, despite Mark’s gloomy predictions. We serenaded the landscape with our own Astra versions of Advance Australia Fair and Pub With No Beer to while away the time. Some of us may have fallen asleep on the bus…but as there are no photos to prove it I’m claiming ignorance! Back home at around 4pm, just in time for a cuppa and a rest (well, that’s what I did anyway!) Bring on the next trip, I’m already looking forward to it…