I went to a poetry reading today at Strathvea Guest House here in the Yarra Valley. I knew the poems were to be read by John Wood (an award winning actor here in Australia) but I had no idea they were going to be backed up by the breathtaking, whimsical and sometimes haunting music of Hadyn, Bach and Mozart played by the Australian Haydn Quartet.

I attended the wedding of someone who was married here at Strathvea back in 1996. When asked about the experience she commented that it was “one of those strange, summer days where the sky was overcast and it was quite cold. But, as soon as we all came together under the massive oak in the gardens the sun started to shine and it didn’t stop until vowells and rings were exchanged.” It was a wonderful day and the couple enjoyed a two night’s stay in the accommodation which gave them plenty of time to relax and enjoy the sumptious food and magnificently maintained gardens.

Fast forward 18 years to another day, but this one with a complete set of strangers The present owners of the Guesthouse, Dianne and Toby Eccles, are into the third year of their Music and Poetry Festival that they hold every winter. ¬†Beautiful memories flashed through my mind as I wound my way up the dirt road to the Guesthouse which, in a stroke of either good luck or genius has remained almost completely unchanged. I made myself comfortable in the Library of the Guesthouse in front of a roaring fire while my eyes hungrily drank in every single title on every single shelf (there were a lot of books). And then I found the children’s collection and my heart sang. Every magnificently illustrated fairytale book that a children’s author could ever hope to find in one place. Oh joy! I resisted the urge to jot down titles and authors or take photos of covers for later reference. No, my shelves at home are already overflowing…

A lovely Spanish boy is staying at Strathvea. He has only been in Australia one month and barely knows the language so I found myself giving him English lessons :)
A lovely Spanish boy is staying at Strathvea. He has only been in Australia one month and barely knows the language so I found myself giving him English lessons :)

You can imagine my surprise and delight when we were called into the dining/ ballroom with the words, “they’re ready for you now” and then upon entering found a lovely looking quartet setting up. Most of the poems were centuries old (I’ll be placing my favourites here on my blog as the next days unfold) and I hadn’t heard of them before but, backed up by the music – which was perfectly matched – the words were brought to life in a way that’s difficult to describe. I was completely transported to another place and time.

I had that sinking feeling when it all came to an end after two hours. I wanted more. It was then that one of the violinists stood up and asked for the members of the audience to ‘like’ their Facebook page as they were still unable to afford a Publicist. I saw my chance. I put my Freelancer hat on (for the first official time) and, in spite of nerves that were making my knees shake (I’m usually an in-the-background type of person), I came right out and asked if I could photograph all of them and write an article for my blog. I think they were quite pleased actually and, even with enormous fame and talent under their belts, were more than happy to oblige.

This was one of those afternoons that is life changing and will never be forgotten. If you ever have a chance to see John Wood act (he’s currently working on a play) or the Australian Haydn Quartet play, you will not be disappointed. It was truly inspiring and I came away with itchy palms that just wanted to pick up a pen and write poetry until the cows come home ūüôā

John Wood is an award winning actor here in Australia.
John Wood is an award winning actor here in Australia.  20140817_161856 20140817_161811 20140817_161710




Twenty surefire ways to tell you’re dating a user:

We all have our masks that we wear when we are out and about and putting our best foot forward, especially when it comes to meeting new people. And sometimes it can take a while for those masks to start to come off when you’re in a new relationship: you seem to spend a long time feeling quite elated (thanks to those ‘falling in love’ hormones) and even if you do notice things that seem a little odd you’ll probably just brush it aside as an eccentricity and carry on staring starry eyed at the object of your affection.

My girlfriends and I have all been there and together we came up with this little list of things to watch out for. It can also apply to ‘takers,’ psychic vampires, narcissists and also people with addiction problems who are just hoping to be ‘saved’ (with your money, time and energy)!

The dating game changes when you have assets and children who you plan to accommodate through inheritance. It’s all very well to want to remain the Utopian Idealist who sees all people as equal but the stark reality is that there are a¬†lot¬†of people out there – often good looking and charming – who, for whatever reason, through laziness, addictions or a lack of work ethic are quite broke and looking for a meal ticket. They can be extremely hard to spot as they can be quite convincing but there are¬†always¬†subtle clues that will give them away.

1) They spend a lot of time complaining about their financial situation and probably wouldn’t object to you offering them a loan or even giving them cash. They will keep complaining in the hope that they are wearing you down.

2) They seem to have a lot of excuses as to why they are in that financial position and don’t seem to realise the obvious eg: that gambling and drinking vast amounts of alcohol is expensive. They are unable to budget their money.

3) They look worried or confused when you complain that you are having cash flow problems and if you ask them to pick up the tab they may make an excuse or do it begrudgingly. They may then avoid going out with you in case you ask again.

4) If you continue to talk about your cash flow problems you may notice them becoming more scarce and making excuses to avoid contact with you (if they disappear for days at a time it’s probably because they are out ‘playing the field’ hoping to find another, better option than you).

5) They will enthusiastically and repeatedly bring up the notion that selling assets is the best way to be rid of debt instead of adjusting their lifestyle and they may enquire as to when you are planning on selling too.

6) When you bring up the subject of a pre-nup you will notice a mood change, there may be withholding of affection and/or sex.

7) If you mention the future or try to plan for the following weekend they may look worried and distant especially if their plan to manipulate and control you is not working.

8) You may speak of falling in love with them and the associated moods and feelings involved but the same is not returned. There’s a sense of ¬†them holding back or not letting you in.

9) The charming and romantic text messages and murmurings in your ear may dissipate as the days turn into weeks and they realise you are not going to be a push-over.

10) Declarations of love may be held back too: a person in love will see you as the most beautiful person on the planet and worship the ground you walk on. It’s a hard act to follow for someone who’s faking it and you’ll notice the difference.

11) You have an uneasy feeling, like a woman’s intuition that something’s ‘just not right.’ It may be something small like seeing a pile of dating service emails in his inbox or the way he talks about a previous lover as though she is somehow better than you. You sometimes feel uncomfortable, untrusting, or lonely in this person’s presence, especially if you are at their house with no way home except for them to drive you.

12) He often talks about his own physique and physical appearance and the supposed impact he thinks he has on women but seems to not ever notice or comment on how good you look some days – just too wrapped up in himself.

13) ¬†He still insists on going out to ‘pick up’ joints without you: people in love are NOT interested in going out without their partner – they want to spend all of their time together. People in new relationships that are thriving are NOT interested in being around lots of members of the opposite sex that will flatter and proposition them or dance with them. That’s the last thing on their mind. He’s either an egoist, a player or the alchohol saturated environment feeds their addiction.

14) If your birthday has come and gone and he’s still talking about that present he’s been looking for, for you, and yet he continues to waste money on addictions, um, sorry – alarm bells should be ringing by now!

15) If you ask him to help with projects at home (you’ll probably have to pay cold, hard cash because that’s his only language) eg: home maintenance, but the job never gets done or finished properly you can be sure there is no work ethic or that he got a better offer.

16) Listen to your friends: it’s hard for you to be objective because this is your new guy after all but if they are saying things like, “so what’s he going to do once he has sold all of his assets and has run out of money?” “Where are you guys going to live if he’s broke?” “How are you guys going to manage now that he’s not working?” or looking generally hazy or worried for you in any form, take the hint, leave the loser!

17) Introduce a gorgeous new housemate to your home and watch his reaction. Does he withdraw affection when she comes into the room? Does he behave territorily when another male gives her attention? Does he shamelessly flirt with her right in front of you in an effort to charm her and in complete indifference to your feelings. People that are in love only have eyes for their loved one.

18) Does he act jealously and possessively of you? It may feel like he is trying to separate you from everyone you love, even your children. There’s an interrogation every time you talk to another man and a hissy fit when you spend any time with anyone else. And yet the same rules don’t apply in the reverse: he can do whatever he wants. He sees other people as threats to his claim on your assets!

19) There seems to always be an excuse to avoid getting a job or working too hard and they find it impossible to pay the rent/mortgage because they would rather spend their money on luxury items like aftershave, sex toys, alcohol, cigarettes etc.

20) Once you’ve caught them at their game and confronted them you will never hear from them again. Be certain they are back out there looking for their next victim and wondering how you ever worked it out.

masked mona                   This article is protected by copyright. Please ask permission before using any part of my article.