Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I recall someone prompting me to make an invitation list of the 10 people I would most like to have to dinner.  Interesting concept.

Actually, the subject of making that list is a good dinner party conversation in itself!

Over the years I have brought it up with all sorts of people – young and old – and it has prompted amazing discussions till all hours of the night.  More often than not I have written down my list of 10 favourites – then put it somewhere “safe”.  You all know that safe place where we can never find anything again!

These yearly or two-yearly updates have had some common themes – in my case the Queen is a permanent fixture (at the head of the table, of course).  However, some I would like to be common to all lists have sadly passed away.  Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana and my father, to name a few.

Some have come and gone in my thoughts, for reasons best known to themselves – Lance Armstrong is a prime example!  No way would he now grace my dinner table, having single-handedly made past cycling drug-cheats look like they only took a few headache tablets.  How quickly someone you once held in the highest regard for not only his amazing talent, but his mentoring of young cyclists, can plummet us, his loyal fans, to the depths of despair (how could he have done this to us?)

Recently No.1 Son and I rewrote our lists – I think mine are mostly quite different to the list written last year, which reflects the change in direction and attitude my life has taken over that time.  The list below is as it stood last week (but I could possibly change one of them already – this dinner party really is a movable feast!)

Richard Branson – needs no introduction
Mary Robinson – 7th President of Ireland & UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
HM Queen Elizabeth II – Ma’am
Bruce Macaveny – Australian sports commentator
Malala Yousafzai – shot by Taliban in Pakistan & Nobel Peace Prize recipient
Ricky Ponting – former Australian Cricket Captain
Jens Voigt – recently retired (and squeaky clean) German cyclist
Mary King – top British Equestrienne (3-Day Event)
Seth MacFarlane – American actor, singer & funny-man
Novak Djokovic – World No.1 Serbian tennis player

Revision of my list – already?
OUTRicky Ponting (no offence Ricky – I’m Tasmanian too)
INJanice Macleod – Artist & Author of “Paris Letters”

Now for No.1 Son’s list:
Tim Ferriss – Entrepreneur & Author of “The 4-hour Work Week”
Tim Cook – Current CEO of Apple Inc.
Cadel Evans – 1st Australian cyclist to win Tour de France (2013) (also squeaky clean)
Arianna Huffington – Entrepreneur & founder of The Huffington Post
Nathan Chan – CEO and founder of Foundr Magazine (yes, correct spelling)
Eric Thomas – Motivational speaker, originally from wrong side of the tracks in Detroit
Richard Branson – obviously appeals to all ages!
Hamish Blake – Australian radio host and comedian
Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson – American actor (former wrestler)
Michelle Obama – US First Lady

Our lists have come from our gut feelings, and our hearts.  They are people we hold in the highest regard, people who have inspired us, made a difference, made us laugh, broken through barriers, turned their lives around and overcome the toughest obstacles.

Try this out round your family dinner table tonight – remember no choice is wrong!

I’d LOVE to hear your list- please write your list in the comments below – or on Facebook here.





Waking to “Tumble Down Snow”

I can’t remember when I was last able to touch snow.  Forecasters often promise snow down to ‘so many metres’ overnight.  Your hopes rise that you may just wake up to it one morning soon – only to be dashed.

Sometimes I feel we’d be better off if we relied on the principle of Banjo Patterson’s poem, “Frying Pan’s Theology”.  I have always had a soft spot for this delightful little poem about a conversation between an aboriginal man (called Frying Pan) and a young boy on a pony, which goes like this:

Snowflakes are falling gentle and slow,
Youngster says, “Frying Pan what makes it snow?”

Frying Pan, confident, makes the reply –
“Shake ‘im big flour bag up in the sky!”

“What!  When there’s miles of it?  Surely that’s brag.
Who is there strong enough shake such a bag?”

“What parson tellin’ you, Ole Mister Dodd,
Tell you in Sunday-school?  Big pfeller God!

“Him drive ‘im bullock dray, then thunder go;
Him shake ‘im flour bag – tumble down snow!”

Last week my luck changed – the flour bag was emptied on Tasmania.  I was staying at my mother’s house in Hobart – you know, the one with the amazing view.  Waking on Monday (3rd August) to the ABC news at 7.00 am, I sensed something was different!  Outside it was really quiet.  The radio reported that roads and schools across much of Tasmania were closed, with many people unable to get to work.  I jumped out of bed – finally those forecasters had delivered what they had been promising for days!

Looking out of the bedroom window everything was blanketed – the camelias were hanging low, the glossy green leaves just visible through the white ‘icing’.  Donning several layers of clothes, I ventured out to the kitchen windows where I hoped to see the hills on the other side of the river dusted with snow.  WOW!

Across the Derwent

Not only were the hills opposite white, but mum’s deck, table and chairs, pot plants, lawn, roof…..everything was white!  Hobart hasn’t had snow lying at water level since 1986.  The sunrise was so beautiful – pinky-orange swirly clouds emerging from the snowy, VERY wintry sky to the south-east (where even deeper snow lay on the hills).


Snowy sunrise

Bravely – or stupidly – I made my way up mum’s very steep driveway with probably not the best footwear for this ‘expedition’.    First attempt (from the garage) was aborted when, after 2 steps, I started sliding backwards.  Oh dear – wouldn’t be able to get the car out for a while – even if I needed to.  A second attempt was successful – via the scenic route, from the front door, up 4 steps, across the little garden bed, to the upper level of the driveway.   (That ‘little garden bed’ is the one mum is always telling us to “mind where we put our feet as my precious plants are in that bed”.  But today it was all white – and mum wasn’t home – so I could put my feet wherever I wanted).  The slow progress to the top of the hill onto Sandy Bay Road was pretty scary – sometimes two steps forward, one slip backwards.  But the ice seemed to be disappearing – especially where the neighbour had driven out to work (after building the snow man on his deck with his little daughter).  Eventually I made it to the main road.

Another world awaited me here and I was like a 6 year old again – it was really exciting to see the cars parked over the road absolutely covered, barely able to see what colour they were, and the heavy snow bending the branches of the trees.

Walking path early morning

Deciding in which direction the footpath would be least treacherous was my biggest dilemma for the day!  Tried going north – no way, broken wrists came to mind!  So I picked my way south.  The only traffic coming from the south was covered in inches of snow and seemed to be mostly 4WDs.  I kept walking – gingerly – until a new stretch of footpath proved too much for my inept shoes.  But I had seen enough of the timbered hills leading to Mount Nelson to understand why so many roads and schools were closed.

Towards Taroona

Early morning walkers, usually in leggings, t-shirts and runners, were today in thick jumpers, jackets, scarves and hiking boots – their dogs not so lucky.  People waiting on bus stops were disappointed as the buses didn’t come – until much later.   Neighbours were out chatting to each other, hopeful drivers scraped the snow off their windscreens, and the odd cyclist made terrifying progress towards the city.

Opossum Bay

Sensible to turn back while still in one piece.  Shaking the snow off the morning newspapers, (what a brave paper delivery person!) I headed to the first corner – woops, ice – went to the outside of the corner, then VERY carefully made it half way down the driveway….then it started to snow!  Not heavily – just pretty swirling confetti, peaceful and so pretty.   Ironically, the sun was out at the same time so the snow flakes didn’t settle.  It was surprisingly warm – no wind, no chill factor – my gloveless hands were warmer than they are at present typing this on my keyboard!

Unfortunately I did not get to see “round the corner” to Mount Wellington, the city and surrounding hills.  But, thanks to Facebook, I soon had a photo of our farm at Ouse, in the upper Derwent valley, taken by the farm overseer.  It looked stunning – a real winter wonderland.

Look carefully for the house!

Look carefully for the house!

I was certainly lucky to be in the right place at the right time.  It has been a talking point for at least a week for most Tasmanians.  We are used to snow on the mountains and higher hills, but not on the sandy beaches very often (some hardy surfers who went out that morning, left footprints in the snow not the sand, on the way into the water!)

It was a beautiful morning – one of those infrequent moments of wonder.