The past week was my almost-holiday between terms. This is the relatively quiet time when I generally get to enjoy some downtime, with only a few hours of work thrown into the mix each week. I managed to be out of work-mode for a while, but have had to wrack my brains a bit to figure out just what – exactly – I did with my time (other than the usual daily thingos).

Well, first there was brunch down in Fremantle with a dozen or so people to celebrate a couple of birthdays, followed by a quick foray down onto the beach to laze around, paddle or – for the bravest amongst us – to swim.

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On one day we adventured off to meet our puppy for the first time. At all of six weeks old, Miss Molly turned out to be a-dor-able in every way. We get to bring her home in early November – and then the fun really begins!

Over the next couple days I managed to pack in quite a few things, now that I think about it. I rode my bike in the sun, zipping off on sundry missions to shops, library and friends. I’d almost forgotten just how much l love my bike and what fun it is to fly down hills with the wind in my hair. More of that to come over the summer, for sure. I read some books, planted some seedlings and a rose bush and finished the penultimate round of edits on my memoir. One more reader on that, then it’s time to hit up a publisher and see what emerges.

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Thursday morning was spent at work – so that wasn’t downtime at all, really, but putting nine volunteers through a training programme on the new computer system will make life easier for me next week, so it was a worthwhile investment. Afterwards I visited a damaged sibling – she broke her ankle earlier in the week and needed some cheering up. It felt good to be the one visiting and cheering for once, rather than on the receiving end. I think I make a better visitor than patient!

I attended week 4 of my ‘Smart Busy’ programme at Murdoch Uni, which motivated me to declutter several cupboards and get rid of some unnecessary stuff. VERY satisfying. During that process I came across some artwork that my brother did for me for a wedding invitation – nearly forty years ago, when he was living in Melbourne. How the wheel turns: I’m now in Perth and he’s in Johannesburg. Sadly he seldom sketches these days, but I’ve sent this one to him to see if it inspires him to start drawing again. We’ll see how that goes.

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A family dinner on one night included experimental Magic Bean Cake. It’s gluten free and very chocolatey – lots of good quality cocoa in there. Made as per the recipe it turned out super delicious and the unanimous vote was that it’s a definite do-again option. We had it for dessert, dusted with icing sugar and served with raspberries and custard. Yum. You can find the recipe I used hereOn Saturday we hit the veggie markets for fruit and veg and came away with an amazing haul of great stuff at bargain prices. I now need recipes for things to do with oranges – lots of oranges! Maybe the next magic bean cake should be orange flavoured…  The week has finally staggered to a close with gardening, a waterlogged German Shepherd (our water baby strikes again) and a trip to the cinema for ice-cream and a vampire movie.

It’s possible that I now need to go back to work to recover enough for more ‘down-time’!

kites collageIt’s been a few years since I last put together birthday goodie-bags, which is not surprising – considering that my youngest just turned 32 🙂

Luckily both skill and enthusiasm were still lurking in the dim recesses and the process turned out to be much as I remembered: a fair bit of planning, lots of glue, bits of paper and trying to get all the lollies INTO the bags instead of eating them. Or at least all of them…

Eventually all the component parts were assembled and the kite kits / goodie-bags were good to go. Kite flying birthday (of aforementioned youngest) dawned a bit grey and rainy looking, but cleared up enough for a foray to the local park for some kite action.  First the kite kits were unpacked and mini kites constructed (tasty treats discovered in bags were fun for all), then the kites were tested and modified (by those of an engineering bent), after which we all trooped across to the park.

A couple of commercial kites were unleashed, but the mini kites really won the day: perfect for limited space and not much wind. There was lots of fun and laughter – and a little girl running around shouting ‘I got it! I got it!’ added to that immensely. Adorable-Anaira is two years old and found it much more fun to chase kites than to fly them. Very reminiscent of a hyperactive puppy, actually… and that was before the very tasty, icing-covered, kite-cake for afternoon tea…

With September nearly over and summer on the way, kite-flying season is well and truly here. Spring days in Perth tend to trend towards being reasonably dry and sunny, yet also moderately breezy – perfect weather for kite fans, however inexperienced, to have some fun.

Back in the day my younger brother and I used to get stuck in and build traditional diamond shaped kites every year, utilising dowel sticks, crepe paper, newspaper, string and glue. In the end we probably spent a great deal more time building the kites than we ever did flying them, but it was all part of the fun. The trick was to have a long enough tail and to be prepared to run around like crazy until lift-off was achieved. Then it was a matter of seeing who’s kite stayed up the longest, went the highest and crashed most spectacularly.

kiteFrom that basic diamond shape we moved on to box kites, but these proved to be a great deal more challenging and less rewarding overall and were soon abandoned. The next iteration of kite manufacturing was hexagon-shaped kites, which worked remarkably well. By that stage we’d learned quite a lot about making each unit as light as possible and had started to cut up large garbage bags for the kite skins, in preference to the very heavy crepe paper we’d used in the past. Tissue paper made a brief showing, but generally proved to be far too flimsy. We’d also learned about adjusting the position of the tow point and bridle lines to make the kites fly most effectively – and with less running!

In due course we each had children of our own and they in turn wanted to make kites and fly them. So it was back to the drawing board, followed by construction and yet more running around with kites – and handlers – of variable skill levels. For a while each year brought with it slight innovations in kite design and effectiveness. Then came a foray into the world of commercial kites – including delta kites, power kites and fighting kites, each of which probably cost more than all the kites previously made by any one – or perhaps all – of us.

Although these all provided much entertainment, there remains that urge to actually make a kite from scratch, to glue and tie and decorate and then fly something that you’ve made yourself. As it turns out there’s a birthday coming up soon, so next weekend we’re having a kite day (weather permitting) to celebrate. With luck lots of kite-hopefuls will come along with kites they’ve made or bought and send them soaring up over the river. Those who arrive without kites will have the opportunity to make mini ones on the spot (from kits provided) and send them out to dance on the breeze too. Hurrah!