Monthly Archives: September 2015

Ben, Hoda and their Kabt Ill Katab

How wonderful is a wedding in any language.


Hoda and Ben recently realized they had found their soul mate. Last Friday, surrounded by family and friends  they joined hands and declared their love in a magical wedding ceremony against a backdrop of the sun setting in a blaze of glory over Port Phillip Bay.

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Living next door to an Egyptian Family for over fifteen years has been a delightful experience. We have learnt so much over those years and been included in many celebratory occasions: cakes at the end of Ramadan, sweets and gifts exchanged at Christmas and bowls of nuts, spices and snacks during the year have not only expanded our culinary tastes but also our knowledge of a different culture. Both families respect and understand their different religions. To be Christian or Muslim simply means trying to be the best people we can be.  To me, we are taking different paths that lead to the same destination.

It has been a privilege to watch Hoda grow from a vivacious little girl into a beautiful young woman. We met Ben for the first time on Friday night and immediately fell in love with his outgoing friendly nature and happy smile. His entire family were supportive, fun loving people.

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We wondered how different this marriage ceremony would be compared to the others we had attended and were amazed at the similarities. Out of respect for the English and Arabic cultures present, the Imam conducted the ceremony in both English and Arabic . Both fathers gave their blessing, the happy couple said ‘I do’, papers were signed, cake cut, and, instead of a soprano singing Oh Perfect Love, Hoda and Ben had an Australian belly dancer who, much to the delight of the guests, managed to entice the recently married couple to join her dance.

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The wedding breakfast was superb. How wonderful to be able to taste a portion of all the entrees, mains and sweets, instead of having to choose one or the other.  Sometimes it’s impossible to decide

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We have a special relationship with Hoda’s grandmother.and were delighted to see her surrounded by her lovely daughters and son. I wanted to take a picture of them all together but we were all so busy having a good time the evening was over before we realized it.

mother & Daughter

The most fun came from a photo booth set up to one side of the restaurant. We wandered over to see what all the shrieks of delight were about only to be dragged in front of the hidden camera. Hats were plonked onto our heads. Because you had no idea when the photo would be taken some of the photos were hilarious. Ours included.


Several seconds later we were handed a strip of photos which we then put into a book  and were asked to write a message to Hoda and Ben . Our photos followed a collection of very funny pictures complete with rabbit ears and hysterically laughing faces. The caption  underneath was ‘Your crazy cousins’. I loved that Hoda’s name had the Wonder Woman sign beside it and Ben was obviously Superman.

We had a wonderful evening and wish Hoda and Ben a long and happy life together

hearts linked

Friends, Springtime and the Bellarine Peninsula

Bollards, sparkling water, bobbing boats and happy children at Geelong, on the Bellarine Peninsula.

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I loved the quirky bollards lining the Western Beach shoreline and noticed all the  joggers, dog lovers and  mums with young children smiled as they passed each one. So did I.

bollard 5  bollard 2

The aim of this trip from the Mornington Peninsula, around Port Phillip Bay to the city off Geelong was to visit an old friend. Janet and I have known each other for over fifty years.

Life’s more fun when you share it with friends 


The last time I saw Janet was in her home in the Australian outback town of Coober Pedy.

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Then the talk focused on underground dugouts, opal and heat. She now lives on her own close to Melbourne but on the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay. It has been years since we saw each other, mainly because the road distance around the bay from Carrum on the Mornington Peninsula, through heavy traffic over the Westgate Bridge to Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula on the other side. It makes any sane driver think twice before attempting the journey.

Janet does not drive far these days so I managed to catch up with her in her home in Geelong. This time the talk was about art and craft, making greeting cards and stringing together light reflecting mobiles. She sells the beautifully handcrafted cards where ever she can. They are absolutely gorgeous. I particularly like the cards with pink, blue and yellow daisies and the ones with chips of Coober Pedy opal. Opal comes in so many colours and Janet knows where to by the opal chips in bulk. They add just the right splash of colour.

Opal Doublet        Opal Bracelets         Coober pedy opal

One day I hope to be able to attend one of her card making classes.

card 1                        flowers

card 2

On arrival I was greeted at the door by two little dogs, Tiny And Joel. Janet appeared and it was if the years between had never existed. We were once again seventeen years old and doing our apprenticeship together. Memories flooded our talk. We laughed about being so young and so impressionable. Our fondest memory was when we went to the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne and were unexpectedly seated in one of the exclusive ‘boxes’ that jutted out from the side wall inside the theater. Our joy was complete when Tommy Steele looked up and saw us excitedly grinning and madly applauding in our box seat. We felt he sang The Little White Bull just to us.

Having eye contact with a celebrity was a memory that has lasted a lifetime. He never knew what an impact he had on two impressionable teenagers and it has given me empathy over the years for all the young girls who scream when a celebrity/rock star appears. I know how they feel.

After our visit we decided to skip the long journey home and pay to drive the car onto the ferry that sails from Queenscliff, past the Port Phillip Bay heads over to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. It was well worth the money. While on the ferry it seemed too good an opportunity to miss to call in to see a good friend living at Blairgowrie.

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Carol-Anne Croker is amazing. She has supported me all through my PhD while doing a PhD herself. You couldn’t wish for a better friend. When we arrived thinking we were staying for a quick cup of coffee, much to our surprise, Louis began cooking fresh mussels and prawns. My husband was delighted and felt like royalty to be treated to such a seafood feast. Many hours, and a glass of wine later (drats that we had to drive) we continued on our way home.

Let’s kick off our shoes and dance around our handbags – sing at the top of our lungs – badly…Make the time to catch up, drink wine, eat cheese and chocolate in ridiculous amounts and enjoy each other’s belly laughter until our cheeks hurt and our sides are splitting…No matter how old we are or what challenges come our way.


Deakin University Literary Fest

At the Geelong Campus and surrounding libraries


When the wattle, magnolias and daisies are in full bloom Melbournians know that spring has finally arrived.

Ah, now we hear the heart of the year for the young trees leap and glow              And nesting birds speak hot love-words as they flit from a dancing bough           AG Stevens

wattle     magnolia       purole flowers

At last we can finally shed the winter woollies, don trendy gear and enthusiastically join in all the spring activities and festivals Melbourne has to offer. The Deakin University Literary Fest is one such event not to be missed. Part of the festival is the Home to Home Digital Story Exhibition.

Home to Home Digital Story Exhibition is a free exhibition of stories revealing a part of society that is usually hidden away. Open until  Tuesday 15 September 2015  you can visit the exhibition (open to public ) at Gallery Two, Deakin University Waterfront Campus.

Geelong Waterfront campus map

These stories uncover the hidden lives of young Australians with disability living in nursing homes because there is simply nowhere else for them to go. Storytellers have produced insightful videos about their unique experience of living in a nursing home, being at risk of living in one or being a parent of one of these young people. Through these stories, we are invited to glimpse what life is sometimes like living in residential aged care where the average age of fellow residents is 84, where there is no choice about what time to go to bed, what to wear, or what and when you eat. The emotions of grief, frustration and sadness are deeply present in this collection of stories. But so are the themes of perseverance, strength of character and hope. To find out more visit

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While you are in Geelong take time to soak in the joy of spring flowers, bay views and sunny days. Living on the Mornington Peninsula on the other side of Port Phillip Bay and rarely driving the miles needed to get to Geelong on the opposite side, I had forgotten the amazing beauty of the area and the friendliness of the people. It will not let so many years slip by before I visit again

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Barb Biggs: The Accidental Renovator. A review

A Paris Story

How do you accidentally buy a Paris apartment?

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This is a smart, snazzy, witty story set in the romantic city of Paris. As I expected, I am really enjoying reading Barbara Biggs’ latest book The Accidental Renovator. It is a sassy, ironic, exuberant book that holds your interest from start to finish. Smart, funny and written about the real world in a way that will make you sit up and take notice.

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Barbara Biggs is also author of In Moral Danger, The Road Home and Chat Room. At 14 Barbara’s grandmother sold her to a pedophile; at 16 she was in a psyche hospital; at 18 she was a prostitute in Japan; at 19 she escaped Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge; at 21 she caused national headlines and received death threats; at 30 she became a journalist. By 40 Barbara was a property millionaire. Just imagine her life in the years following. So how did Aussie Barb end up writing about renovating an apartment in Paris?

Incorrigible romantic, writer and renovator Barbara Biggs thought she knew about sex and real estate. Then she went to Paris. The self-described ‘foot-in-mouth Aussie chick’ can’t help ‘just looking’ at apartments for sale. Big mistake. She speaks little French, knows no one in Paris and has never thought of living there. But when the agent assures her the owner will insist on the asking price, she makes a low offer ‘just for fun’. It is accepted—and her life goes haywire. Biggs smuggles in a handsome Australian builder to renovate the apartment.
But he doesn’t speak French, doesn’t have any tools, and when the budding romance goes sour he vanishes and Barbara’s dream renovation becomes a nightmare. Undeterred, she joins the Lazy Pigs Millionaires’ Club and is soon lunching in grand chateaux, partying until dawn and learning about continental men in the nicest possible way. Then she writes about it.

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Imagine my surprise on reading the fist page of The Accidental Renovator to see, ‘I’d come to visit my French friend Lucy in Nancy, a university town three hours east of Paris.’ I was immediately back in Novel Writing Class, along with Barb and Lucy Mushita in the Professional Writing and Editing Course at Holmesglen TAFE. At that time Barb  was busy writing  In Moral Danger. Later, Lucy published her novel Chinongwa and I launched Pickle to Pie.

In Moral Danger

Biggs’ first book was a 2003 autobiography about her life up to the age of 22. The book tells of her sexual abuse from the age of 14 by a well-known criminal barrister. It explains the damaging after effects following her abuse, including time spent in a psychiatric hospital, escaping Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge and being a prostitute in Japan. It also describes how she attempted suicide four times, received death threats and caused national headlines – all before the age of 22.

In Moral Danger   The Road Home: What Price Redemption?      Product Details

The Accidental Renovator shows how far Barb has come, not only in her life but as a writer. Both Lucy and I wish Barb good health, joy and every success.