A Story of the Settlement of Northcliffe Western Australia

Apart from the original inhabitants of Western Australia, we are all imports and we all have unique stories of how we come to be here.

I was a child in the 1970’s when people were fleeing Vietnam and arriving by boat in Australia. It was terrifying to see television reports of rickety fishing boats filled to overflowing with desperate people arriving on our shores.

Despite the reservations of the Australian Government to accept large numbers of refugees at that time, those who did manage to receive asylum here have been a valuable addition to Australia. Just over 2,000 “Boat People” were given asylum in Australia.

It seems that not much has changed since the 1970’s – just the Country’s that people flee from and the atrocities they run from. The 24 hour news cycle replays the same stories with the undertone of fear and intolerance.

My Grandmother’s family came to Australia by boat too, but under very different circumstances.

This is their story.

Great Grandfather Joseph Cooper and Great Grandmother Annie (Goodall) Cooper lived in England. Joseph was the Manager of the United Dairy factories in Barkston, Longridge and Leigh in Lancashire.

By 1923 Joseph started hearing wonderful reports of farming opportunities in Australia. The Premier of Western Australia, Sir James Mitchell, was promoting land for dairy farming in the South West. He was establishing “The Group Settlement Scheme”. An offering to people willing to clear their own land and pay for it later. Joseph perceived it to be a very good offer, especially after seeing pictures of beautiful rolling pastures with fat grazing dairy cattle.

Great Grandmother Annie was willing to make this big move because she and her 7 children were Asthmatic and her Doctor advised that the fabulous Australian climate would be much better for them.

Although Joseph Cooper didn’t have any farming experience, he felt confident due to his background in the dairy industry. They left behind a comfortable home with hired help and had hope for a great future.

The children were aged 2 years to 16 years old and they travelled by train from Lancashire to London where they boarded a little steamship which took them out to the “Euripides” where she was anchored out in the Thames.

December 26, 1923 was the day the Euripides departed with cabins crammed with up to eight people. The men and women were separated and Annie spent the next 6 weeks suffering with seasickness so severe that the older children had to look after the little ones.

The Ship travelled through the Bay of Biscay and onto the Canary Islands where it was restocked with food. It travelled onward to Capetown where corn and coal were loaded aboard by a chanting chain gang.

The destination was Albany Western Australia.

Joseph and Annie had paid their landing fee in England so did not owe any money. They were approached by an immigration officer who offered them the chance to get an established farm. The price for this offer was a bribe. Although they had the funds to pay the bribe, it was against their principles so they refused.

The family travelled by train up to Fremantle where they were taught about the dangers of the Western Australian bush. Lightning strikes, bushfires, snakes, spiders and bull ants, how to clear the bush and how to construct their shacks.

They all stayed in Immigration House, which was accommodation that the Government repurposed from Army Barracks used in World War 1, and waited for other new settlers arriving from England who would form Group Settlement 108.

The families left Fremantle by train to travel through the bush to Pemberton. Along the way they spotted bushfires in the distance and were quite fearful of what their future would hold. Their arrival in Pemberton was late at night and in the moonlight they could see the massive trees and the thick scrub.

The next morning their luggage and boxes were loaded onto trucks for the 20 mile journey along the rough track to the Group 108 Settlement site at Northcliffe.

They arrived on March 6 1924. The men got to work immediately to build toilets out of wooden frames covered with hessian to ensure privacy. Meanwhile, the women pooled their pots and pans and kitchen utensils and amidst their tears managed to get everybody fed.

The group settlement farm blocks were allocated by lottery. Each of the twenty families drew a number from a hat to determine which location was theirs. They combined their efforts to build temporary shelters for each family to use until the group homes were built on the allotted farms. Some of the settlers waited for up to two years before their homes were built.

Life was very difficult and so harsh and many of the settlers gave up and either moved up to Perth or returned to England.

The dirt floor shack the Coopers built to live in while they waited for their house to be completed.

Joseph and Annie were the first to have their house completed because they had seven children, more than any of the other families. Joseph and the older boys set to making a shed on their property so that they could start farming as quickly as possible. They caught marron from the Gardner River, trapped rabbits and possum and even ate Kangaroo.

Annie gave birth to two more children in Northcliffe, making a family of nine children – Joseph, Alan, Gwendoline, Eva, Edith (Daisy), Arthur, Cecil, Edwin (Teddy) and Phyllis. A resilient bunch who all, apart from Phyllis and Arthur, lived well into old age. Arthur died at 17 of an illness. No autopsy was performed so they never discovered what killed Arthur.

This is Phyllis Cooper aged about 8. She was born in Northcliffe.

I remember my Great Grandparents as jolly and loving people. My childhood was filled with stories of life in Northcliffe which my Nana (Daisy) shared with me.  She spoke of the funny things that happened, the tragedy’s, the romances and her suspicions about scandalous behaviour.

Daisy (centre) on the way to her Wedding. She was accompanied by her sisters Eva and Gwen. Daisy was 19 years old


Great Uncle Joseph (the oldest son of Joseph and Annie) wrote a self published autobiography titled “The Past is Always Present” which the  Pioneer Museum of Northcliffe recommends for anyone who is interested in researching the Northcliffe Group Settlement project.

The Group Settlement Scheme put many families through incredible hardship and many abandoned their farms in desperate circumstances. Details of the programme can be found here

Despite the hardship, the pioneer families of the Group Settlement Scheme were instrumental in the development of the dairy industry in Western Australia.

Joseph and Annie moved away from Northcliffe after their son Arthur died at the age of 17. When I was a child they lived in a house in suburban Wilson and their property backed onto the Canning River. Great Grandad Joseph had a pair of binoculars positioned in the back room at the ready to see what was happening on the river. They celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary and Joseph continued to grow his own vegetables into his 80’s.

They left a legacy of kind heartedness and strong work ethic along with multiple generations of Coopers in Western Australia.

It’s my hope that the descendants of Joseph and Annie can share lots of wonderful stories about these special people so that their legacy can continue.

Raising Great Kids Who Love Life

Imagine that you have just won a multi million dollar lottery. Now, what is the first thing that you think about doing with your prize money?

If you are like me, you may think about a new home or investment properties, maybe travel, new cars and maybe giving some money to a charity you believe in.  Somewhere in the list of all the things, you will probably have thought about giving your children some money.

Perhaps your kids are little and you consider setting up some kind of trust account that they can access when they are older.  Or maybe you’ll pay for their education.  Maybe you’d like to buy them a home or a car.

I believe that none of these things will add value to our kid’s lives. I believe that the best thing a kid can learn is personal responsibility.

As a Mother, I feel compelled to spare my children from pain and anxiety. It’s like I am wired to ensure that my children’s lives are smooth and problem free.

There is a wonderful story about kids learning about Metamorphosis. When they saw the Cocoons moving and heard the creature within scratching to escape, they decided to help the developing butterfly by cutting a little hole in the cocoon and making the process easier. Instead of emerging with beautiful strong wings, the butterfly’s wings were deformed and weak.

In nature, when the butterfly struggles to emerge from the cocoon, it’s the fight that makes their wings strong.

Cocoon cutting starts early, you see your child struggling with something and feel that you need to alleviate the pain and help to solve it for them. But are you really serving them? Is it better for them to go through the solution process despite the difficulties?

When my daughter was 9 years old, there were a couple of girls at school who were basically bullying her. They had a book which they wrote hateful messages in.  My daughter knew she was often the subject matter in their book and it really plagued her.  She would come home from school in tears and tell me the mean things the girls were saying and often spoke about their diabolical book.

Every fibre of my being wanted to go and straighten those girls out.  I wanted to march up to the school and complain to the teacher and question why he was allowing this nonsense to go on in his classroom.  I wanted to phone the parents and tell them about what their daughters were doing to my sweet girl.  But I didn’t.  I taught my daughter a key phrase.  One that she could use only when absolutely necessary.  A phrase so powerful that it would stop those mean girls in their tracks.  A phrase so shocking that she must only say it when the teacher was out of earshot.

That phrase?  It was  “Shut the fuck up”.   Simple, empowering and shocking.

It changed everything for my daughter.  She no longer put up with nasty comments.  She stopped them in their tracks.  When they continued to write in their book – she pinched it.  Yes, she made the book disappear and they never knew what happened to it.

My daughter solved her own problem and became a beautiful butterfly.

My boys were a very different breed of human. My cocoon cutting for them extended to doing things for them that they were quite capable of doing themselves. From helping to finish projects on time, to making their lunch and cleaning their rooms.

But my biggest challenge was when the boys got to driving age.  It was then they I worried about whether they would even survive.  One of my boys continually lost his driving license (thank you Kalamunda Police, I am sure you saved my kid).  I found it incredibly hard to navigate their transition into manhood.

I have recently come across some youtube clips of Celia Lashlie. Celia was New Zealand’s first female prison officer. She understood adolescent boys and she wonderfully articulated that transition to manhood and how Mothers can help to grow boys into good men. You can watch her here

Celia Lashlie wrote a book called “He’ll Be OK, Developing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men”  You can access her book here

My kids have all grown into wonderful human beings and I am supremely proud of each of them. They are courageous and compassionate people who I love spending time with.

When they face adversity, as everyone does, I still fight with myself not to clip their wings.   I certainly made lots and lots of mistakes as my kids grew up.  There were times we seemed to be living from crisis to crisis during the teenage years.  But we all survived and we can even laugh about some of the crazy things that went on.

If I could travel back in time, I would read more books, I would learn to detach, I would laugh more and worry less.  And I would certainly savour every precious moment.

Simple Abundance is a Booktopia affiliate partner which means if you purchase through the link on this page I earn commission.  We recommend Booktopia because they offer good service and pricing.


How to Create a Wardrobe You Love

Back in the 1970’s, I was an aspiring model. Fashion was my focus and passion and I wanted to wear unique pieces that nobody else had. I accumulated lots and lots of clothes and shoes. The photo above was taken in Perth City in 1976 as part of a portfolio shoot and I was wearing my much loved Jag Jeans. They cost AU$50 which was mammoth back then. I believed that I could never be too thin or have too many clothes.

Everyone has been talking and writing about the Minimalism documentary this past month. It shows the ugly side of consumerism and features many approaches to living life with less. Most of which struck a chord with me. The tiny house concept – not so much. We lived in a caravan while we built our own home back in the late 1980’s. We had three little kids all under seven crammed into that little space for 10 long cold months through the wettest winter in living memory. So for me, over tiny dwellings.

Since watching, I have thought a lot about that documentary.

Particularly about Courtney Carver who spoke about Project 333 which she created along with her blog, Be More With Less, in 2010.

Project 333 was a challenge Courtney created to refine her wardrobe down to 33 items only which she wore (and photographed) for three months. You can read more about Courtney and Project 333 here.

I still love fashion and beautiful clothes. But the reality is that I have spent most of my life feeling very unhappy about clothes. Always feeling like I just need to purchase one more garment and then my wardrobe will work. At times I have felt stressed by the need to buy something new because of an event that I believed required a new dress. I have been standing in my walk in wardrobe, surrounded by clothing and feeling like I have nothing to wear. Then there is the body image issues that have plagued me. Gosh even writing about it makes me feel greedy and ungrateful.

Ten months ago, my husband quit his job and began consulting on commission. This meant that we had a substantial drop in income with no guaranteed date for when he would start earning again. I made the decision right then that I would not buy any new clothes unless absolutely required.

In that ten months I have purchased one pair of shoes ($50 from Walnut online), one shawl (while travelling) and one full length dress (Sasha Drake Column Dress) which was to wear to a formal dinner plus my Mum and Dad gave me a lovely Kelly & Hunt dress for Christmas. No other clothing or shoe purchases for ten months and I have enough.

I have travelled on a Baltic Cruise and spent ten days in Hawaii. I have spoken at several events and attended quite a few business and social functions. I have also dropped 11kg in weight and I have enough clothes.

I have even had enough clothes to donate some as my weight has dropped and they no longer fit me well.

A massive mindset shift has taken place for me. I am happy with my clothes. I don’t worry about what I will wear.

My clothing collection is relatively small but it is efficient. I am no longer a victim of fashion, feeling compelled to purchase to keep up or needing to buy clothes to give me a confidence boost. I have pared down and simplified my wardrobe. I wear my favourite things – I was saving them before.

I want everything in my wardrobe to bring me joy and every garment be a pleasure to wear.

My simplified wardrobe feels lighter, happier and more kind.

Here are some great tips from Nikki Parkinson on how to edit your wardrobe.

Do you think you could survive with only 33 garments for the next three months?

How Resilient Do You Need To Be Right Now?

There is a turn in the tide. Can you feel it?

I have felt this before. It starts in subtle ways – you feel it in your gut. Something doesn’t feel quite right.

This is the moment when some become warriors and some become victims. And…..it’s a choice.

I have spoken to several women over the past few weeks who have been caught up in career change beyond their control. All wonderful, experienced women who add value to others now feeling powerless and discarded and they are angry.

A shift in the economy means that change is inevitable. There are many redundancy’s and that other tricky measure where people get shunted sideways into positions they neither wanted nor are qualified for.

Everything can change in a heartbeat. Technology, change in Government, change in management, a new system, downsizing, new thinking can mean that roles become obsolete or change beyond recognition.

This is the time for resilience.

I started my career in the Banking industry. It was an industry dominated by male managers and the computers were housed in an airlocked room taking up an entire floor of the city head office building.

My first job description was Batch Clerk and I manually processed every deposit made each day and wrapped and bagged all the documents ready to be sent to the data processing centre.

My next position was Ledger Clerk. This involved opening and closing bank accounts, processing dishonoured cheques along with being the extra Teller when the bank was busy. I also trained the young men who were appointed to the branch.

I would train the new male appointee and then he would be promoted. This would happen over and over and the men would progress through the promotional program and I would remain the Ledger Clerk.

I remember feeling so angry at the unfairness of it that I wanted to scream. I felt sickened and stressed so I decided to request a transfer to another branch – the request had to be signed and supported by my branch manager.

That request went into the rubbish bin.

So I resigned and completely changed my career direction. I felt empowered and free because I had chosen.

It would have been easier to console myself with the fact that I had a job which was paying me money. Or that there was a limit to how far I could go in the bank anyway. Or that I wasn’t really that good at my job so didn’t deserve a promotion. Or that this was the only job I knew. A million reasons to sell myself out and stay.

This happened a long, long time ago. It set a framework for me to be a seeker and to think outside the square.

Resilience is the key.

Being solution oriented means that we are empowered to choose.

In every situation where I have that gut feeling that things are not quite right or that this will not end well I always come back to the basic thought “this is solvable” – even if I have no idea how. What I do know is that this thinking changes my reaction to any situation. I am not a victim. I am in control because this is solvable.

When we make the choice, we own it.

As women march through the streets to stand up for basic human rights, this is the time for resilience. This is a time to find our own power and model to the next generation that we have kindness and compassion and we will not be victims.

Face change. Choose the direction. Choose to stay. Choose to go. But choose.

Choose to Love your life.

These books have been very helpful to me as I have navigated change:

It’s Time to Move On! by Ralph Bruksos

Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson

The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert, PhD

How to Build a Happy Life

One of the fundamentals of happiness is to be connected with other people – actual relationships, friendships.

In the digital age it’s very comfortable to remain isolated and yet we have an artificial sense of connection because of the online relationships we can cultivate. These are convenient relationships. You can switch them on and off at will. You can even feel like you are staying up to date with real friends through their online updates.

When we moved into our home eleven years ago, I was Neighbour Averse. Not very “Neighbourhood Watch” friendly. I am not a particularly introverted person, I just felt that I needed privacy and space. The home we lived in previously was surrounded by one acre of land.   I had recalibrated my personal space zone to one acre. So, when I moved into my new suburban home on a 450 square metre block of land, I felt surrounded and encroached upon by the homes which grew around me.

If I encountered a neighbour, I would smile, nod or wave but never actually engage them in conversation.

All was going along nicely until Simon and Anna moved in next door. They are a mid 30’s couple with no kids and a Doberman. It started with Simon standing on the front lawn chatting to Jeff while he played worked on his boat.

Then, a few weeks before Christmas, we received a note in our letterbox inviting us to a “Street Christmas Get Together”. Comfort zone seriously invaded.

My immediate response was to decline the invitation but Simon had told Jeff that they were going and Jeff had half committed us too. It seemed that Simon had “friended” everyone in the street. So we accepted the invitation.

It would have been easier just to decline or even ignore the note. It was just at that crazy busy time before Christmas. We had other things happening and we had to take Ziye (our Chinese student) to the airport that night.

But we went.

As I stood there watching all the neighbours meeting one another and explaining which house number they were from, I realised that we were all just as isolated as one another in our street full of people.

I thought about people who die inside their homes and the skeletal remains are discovered years later by some water service person checking to see why the bills aren’t being paid. The neighbours oblivious to the odour of death as they go about their daily business.

I just learned that the lady a few doors down had twins three years ago.  Her husband works away for weeks at a time so she was alone and struggling.  I had no idea she was there.

How easy it is, in the busyness of life or “Stranger Danger” thinking, to miss out on meeting new people and making more connections.

The couple across the street left for a New Zealand holiday and while they were away we noticed their perfect green lawn developing circular brown patches. We stretched our garden hose across the street and watered it.

Then Simon and Anna’s Doberman died and we dropped a card in their letterbox and told them how sorry we were. Simon cried.

There is a continuum from relationships with family to friends, neighbours and community to the virtue of altruism which leads to safe communities and happy people.

Connection makes us kinder.

There are some great books which have helped me a lot, here are some I recommend:

Eveyone Communicates – Few Connect by John Maxwell

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Kelly Exeter, Perth based author and speaker has some great information on her website too along with this podcast – Community

So, I am glad I went along to our little Street Christmas Get Together.

How about you – do you know your neighbours?

Tips for Surviving the First Day of Pre School

A very long time ago, I had a cute little boy. He was such fun with his quirky little sense of humour and big ideas.

His favourite thing was to pretend to be Superman. I would tie a tea towel around his shoulders and then use sticky tape to make the Superman curl flat on his forehead. That was all it took for his imagination to kick in and he was the Man of Steel.

It was lovely to spend my days with him. We would read books together, play games and dance and sing together. We would cook together and we would chat. Life with my little boy was relaxed and we ran to our own schedule.

He was so excited to be heading off to a whole new world of Pre School. I bought him special shorts to wear. We went to the barber for a new haircut. We chose special sandals for growing feet and a little backpack for his fruit.

We talked about the things he would do, the things he would learn and all the new friends he would find at Pre School. We discussed how we had to arrive on time each day. We would have to be organised and have everything ready the day before. We talked about how some kids could feel nervous and that we must be kind to them.

Then, it all began.

We arrived at the gate and found lots of other little kids all waiting to start their first day too. There was excited chatter amongst the kids as they waited for the Pre School Teacher to open the door to invite them all in to their first day.

My little boy stood with me watching the action and listening to the conversations. He looked confident and happy.

I realised that this was the last day that I would be his only influence. I realised that the way the Teacher treated him would affect the way he saw himself. I began to worry that the other kids might be mean to him or exclude him. I remember standing there amongst the children’s noisiness thinking that we still had time to make a run for it and escape from this change maker. I can remember the inner panic as I realised that life for my little boy would never be the same.

The door of the Pre School opened and the smiling face of the Teacher appeared. There was a happy buzz amongst the crowd as they all moved forward to go inside. We were caught in the flow of kids and mothers and backpacks.

I stood and listened as the Teacher organised all the kids onto a padded mat on the floor. My little boy was a very willing little participant. He sat listening carefully as she explained what they would be doing today.

The other Mothers and I left the building. She must have told us to go, but I don’t remember. I only remember my little boy’s casual wave and dismissive smile as I left. He was a happy and confident little boy. I had done my job.

I cried all the way home.

It was as if the system had stolen my child. Influences that I may not approve of were now going to change him for ever.

My baby was no longer my baby. He was a little person with a sharp little mind. He had accepted the challenge of Pre School with an open heart. A new phase of his life was beginning and I had a giant hole in my heart.

But that’s life isn’t it? Children grow and change and enter new phases of their lives whether you are ready or not.

The important thing is that we prepare and guide them so that they can grow and expand with confidence in themselves. High self esteem is what makes them compassionate and generous human beings who add value to others.

And compassionate and generous people change the world.

The Art of Living Happily Ever After


A few years ago, I sat down and carefully wrote out a list of goals. Things I wanted to have, things I wanted to do and the way I wanted my life to be.

They weren’t particularly lofty goals – mainly, I wanted a new car, a red one. I wanted to go to Hayman Island and I wanted to surround myself with positive people.

There is something magical about written goals. Maybe those things would happen anyway but you just wouldn’t notice because you didn’t have a checklist. But I believe we create our own lives by our thoughts and our attitudes.

At the time I wrote those goals, I was desperately looking for a way to achieve happiness and believed that this illusive feeling would come from some external source.

I was a busy Mum, running a business and feeling like life was slipping by. I had started to become a little bit invisible in a world where the focus is on young, happy and beautiful.

The opinions of others mattered very much, and I would always run everything through a prism of “what would they think” rather than prioritising my own happiness and valuing my own opinions and ideas.

When I thought about being happy it was always based on the idea that I would be happy when……I weighed less, when I had more money, when my house was decorated better. It was as if happiness was a feeling that I had to catch.

It wasn’t like I had an epiphany or a big light bulb moment. It was a gradual understanding that I could choose happy.

So I did.

It’s nice to live in Pollyanna world. It seems that happy attracts pleasure and grateful attracts abundance. Obviously, life still delivers its tests and challenges but it’s good to navigate with a compass built on happiness.

Seems overly simplistic. But life is simple. Have a compassionate heart and understanding that everyone is fighting their own internal battle. It’s a choice to not take offence, to have a thick skin and a soft heart. To not be needy. To fill yourself up by prioritising yourself in simple ways. Simple happinesses.

Wonder Blogger, Fat Mum Slim, is running a “Make Life Good” Challenge right now. I have been part of the Facebook Group she has set up. Simple achievable challenges that can be tracked and a big group of likeminded encouragers and uplifters celebrating small successes. Simple but powerful.

I did get my new red car, my trip to Hayman Island and the biggest gift of all has been to find myself surrounded by wonderful positive people.

I have also chosen to continually search for input that helps me to stay positive and happy. I listen to podcasts from Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) and also Perth’s Kelly Exeter who both incorporate productivity advice to make life better.

Have you chosen to live happily?


Soho Display Home Review

 The Soho by Switch Homes

Did you know that Housing Consultants call people like me “Carpet Crushers”?  It’s the equivalent of being a “Tyre Kicker” (not a buyer).

I do not care……there is nothing better than a browse through a display home on a Sunday afternoon.  Inspiration galore and I can critique with the best of them.

I can also dream and imagine.  Yes I Can.

Display homes are like a little portal to a parallel universe where everything is in its place, no dust exists and life is beautiful all the time.

The Soho was my latest target and I think that this is a very cleverly designed home.  Clever because it has been strategically designed for a 9.3m frontage.  Despite the narrow block, the home feels open, light and spacious.  The elevation is contemporary and the interior has a subtle industrial feel to it.

There are several things about this home that I really love…..

The Scullery:

The kitchen is super functional and has plenty of cabinets and storage with integrated appliances plus a built in coffee machine.  A real hub and heart of the home.  Having a super large Scullery like this one means that food preparation would happen seamlessly and everything you need is easily accessible.

Abundant space
Subtle Industrial
Hello Caffeine!
The Bi-Fold Doors:

Three sets of bi-fold doors open up the entire Sitting Room and Dining to access the outdoor living area making the Soho a total lifestyle and entertaining home.  What I personally don’t like so much is that for most of the year you would have to use some screening to prevent flies from entering the home – but solvable.

The High Ceilings:

The higher than usual ceilings help to make the home feel really airy and open.  The cornice is a bit special too with a narrow two stepped profile which adds to the contemporary feel of the home.

Master Bedroom:

The Ensuite in the Main Bedroom feels a little bit Versace but without the Medusa heads.  Simple design with understated elegance.

Streamline and light
Home Office and Drop Zone:

Ever lose your keys?  Not any more…….the “Drop Zone” ensures you have a place to put them so you never lose your keys again.  The Office is convenient and well positioned away from the living area for privacy.

Study Area

The taps are Grohe and the bathroom includes a large free standing bath.

The Boutique Wine Bar:

Can you believe that the designers have catered for the Ladies Who Lunch by creating a “Centre for Alcohol”.  With mirrored splashback (check your lippy) and room for built in wine fridges.  Hello!

Verve anyone?

I think the Soho would be perfect for:

  • Busy executive types who do not want to look after a massive garden.
  • Empty Nesters who like to have space in the areas that they will actually be able to use.
  • People who love to entertain.
  • Work from home business people.

The Soho is on display in Mount Claremont, Western Australia – here is the link to the Switch Homes website with map directions.

It’s always such a pleasure to have a little sticky beak and imagine living the display home life.

I would have a Scullery installed in a flash, how about you?



This is not a sponsored post, just a recommendation because I think this is a great home.  I did not mention to Switch Homes that I was producing a blog post and have not received payment for this review.  The opinions are my own based on many years experience around the building industry.  In the interest of complete transparency I will disclose that my Husband does contract to Switch Homes but that has not influenced my opinion.




Five Things New Grandparents Need to Know


Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Kahlil Gibran

My Grandmother friends all told me how wonderful Grandmotherhood would be.

Everyone says being a Grandparent is fabulous because you can enjoy the baby and then give it back. GIVE IT BACK…who wants to give it back?

Who knew you could have so much love for a tiny person?

I am very new to this Grandparenting game but I have learned some key lessons already. Based on the fact that this was a healthy Mother and baby with few complications during pregnancy and was supported by her partner, here are the 5 key discoveries I have made which helped to ensure maximum harmony and to instil an awesome sense of self-worth and capacity for greatness in our new parents:

1.  It’s not your labour.

My daughter’s partner works away so was unable to attend the Antenatal class. I was invited to go in his place. I was backup support crew in case he did not make it home in time for the birth. However, he did make it home in plenty of time because the baby needed to be induced at 38 weeks.  My solution to controlling this high level anxiety producing situation was to go to the movies. This served as a great distraction and I resisted phoning to find out how everything was going. It was far more empowering for them to be able to let us know when the baby had arrived and share all the details. Absolute torture for me, but so exciting when the news arrived and wonderful for the new parents to tell their story.

This birthing business has changed dramatically since 1982. This is a world of high expectation, birthing plans, access to lots of information and technology which looks like it comes from another galaxy.   I learned to have no judgement about how the baby comes into the world – not my labour.

2.   It’s not your baby.

There are many new parents who are very concerned about the baby’s underdeveloped immune system and insist on everyone who is going to be in contact with the baby being immunised. Their baby, their rules.

It’s their baby and time to bond is really precious and vital. We waited for an invitation to come and visit and then travelled at light speed. Having only been born a few hours before, our grandson was sleepy and a little bruised. Our daughter needed rest and time to recover and get to know her baby. This was not a time to give advice based on my vast experience with new babies. Information based on new research means that a lot of advice to new mothers is very different from 30 years ago.

3.  Privacy matters.

Some parents have very strong rules about not putting their children on Facebook. Respect their choice for privacy.

Camera phones and social media have resulted in some huge privacy breaches for new Mothers. Wait until the new parents have posted on Facebook to announce the arrival, then share. My daughter did not want anyone to know that she was in labour (apart from the Grandparents) and did not want photographs taken in the birthing suite.

4.  Praise don’t perfect.

New Mum’s can be extraordinarily hard on themselves, striving to be perfect while hormones ravage their sleep deprived bodies. Mothering done imperfectly still blesses the baby. Praise, praise, praise.

In my world, there is no such thing as constructive criticism. Criticism is criticism and this is the last thing a vulnerable new Mother needs. Whether she bottle feeds or breast feeds….support her choice. Singlet or no singlet….support. Earth friendly recyclable nappies or disposables…..support.

5.  Be a cheerleader.

I have learned to be her best supporter and find myself constantly telling her what an awesome job she is doing.  My catchcry of empowerment “you’ve got this” has served my daughter well. I call and ask if she needs any help. I have baked “milk biscuits” and some dinners and did spend a couple of nights sleeping over when her partner went back to work.


Watching my daughter develop into an equipped, loving and compassionate parent has been the most extraordinary experience. She has built a wonderful, intuitive relationship with her baby.

The opportunity to “Grandparent” is very precious. I want that little boy in my life and will do everything in my power to have harmony at all costs to ensure my daughter and her partner love to include us in his care. Obviously, there are many different circumstances that babies arrive into the world to face. The role of Grandparent is important and can add such value to new parents too.

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Cycling For Women of Every Age

We all know the key factors in maintaining great health, right?

  • Good Nutrition
  • Reduce Risk Factors
  • Proper Sleep
  • Supportive Medical Care
  • Clean water and air
  • Exercise
  • Positive Mental Attitude

As a Mother, we look after our families and ensure that all of the above are covered but often find ourselves last on the list – especially when it comes to exercise.

After my kids all moved out and found their own lives, I found it surprisingly hard to adjust. I thought it would be great to have peace and quiet. What I found was a great gaping hole in my life. I worried about my kids, a lot. I had a sense of purposelessness. I doubted myself and my value.

One day, I found myself in such a dark place that I could not stop crying. I had begun to have some serious pain in my left knee and it was swollen and ugly. I felt overweight, unattractive and old. I started to think that Jeff would be better off without me. At that point I realised that something was very wrong so I went and saw my GP. I was not living a joy filled life. I was a sad, sad woman.

I totally do not judge anyone who needs medication to help them through rough patches in their lives. Sometimes, it’s just too overwhelming and the hole too deep to climb out of alone.

I chose not address my feelings with my GP, I just showed him my knee.   He had a good look and told me it looked like I had the knees of a 65 year old (I was 53 at the time). He ordered X-Rays and by the end of the day I knew I had hardly any cartilage in my left knee and that bone on bone situation was causing the swelling and inflammation.

Obviously, I needed to drop some weight to take the pressure off. I needed to find a way to exercise which would not cause further pain in my knee. My GP suggested I either buy myself a bike or get myself into a swimming pool.

I bought a bike and I think it saved my life.

I had no background with cycling except for hooning around on a bike as a kid. I did however have a friend who was a cyclist and she guided me through buying the best bike for me and getting me started with riding again. I did not know how the gears worked, how to change a tyre and climbing even the slightest incline was really, really hard. I felt embarrassed and awkward but she encouraged me to keep riding. Jeff bought a bike too and we would ride together, sort of. Jeff rode off into the distance and I tried to keep up without falling off.

I Googled “women’s riding groups” and discovered She Rides. This is a relatively new initiative by Cycling Australia designed to help Australian women to get back on their bikes. I booked in to She Rides Hollywood course located in Perth. She Rides offer three levels of courses for Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes. I chose the Confidence Course as that fitted my skill level at the time.

I met some fabulous women and had great fun doing the initial eight week course. Some were on upright bikes (the ones with the cute baskets) who just wanted to be able to confidently ride the kids to school while others were dressed in cycling gear and were on dropped handle road bikes. I learned so much during that eight weeks! The best part was the new connections I made with the women in the group though. Connection is so key to loving your life.

Riding has become a wonderful part of my life and I participate in group rides with women whenever I can.

Best of all, Jeff can’t keep up with anymore. Winning at life!


Finding a way to exercise that suited me, my body, my own needs and was fun for was the key for me. I just developed a mindset that I did not care what anyone else thought about how I looked or what crazy things I did. I allowed myself to gradually just get better.

I love cycling. I love riding with a bunch of women. I love the camaraderie of the coffee after the ride. I love that my knee is pain free and I have muscles in my legs.

I have cycled down a mountain in Bali, around the gardens of the Peterhof Palace in Russia, Down a volcano in Hawaii and around an island in Vietnam as well as given the track a good try!

Cycling has been a blessing in my life from the moment I began.