Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Race that stops a Nation

So this week in Australia we celebrated the Melbourne Cup. The Melbourne Cup is an international horse race that is affectionately known as "the race that stops a nation" because this wide expanse of a country that I live in pretty much comes to a stop for the three or so minutes that the race takes to run. It's held at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne on the first Tues in November (Americans know the significance of that date. While you're all stressing about who's going to win the presidential election, and how much money it's going to cost you, we're holding our breath to see who's going to win and how much money we've lost. )
But while the race is on, most of the country has their eyes glued to the tv, or their ears glued to the radio, and everything else just waits.

Growing up I lived in Sydney. There Melbourne Cup day is, in essence still a normal Tuesday. People get up, have breakfast, go to work or school and lead a relatively normal day. Until about 2.30pm. By that time, everyone's pretty much starving because they've decided on a late, but long lunch, which usually lasts from 2.30 till finish. During the day the office is buzzing with excitement and preparations and sweep organisations. $1, $2, $5 and sometimes even $10, sweeps where the winners take the kitty, so it's not necessarily a particularly productive day. Even when I was a school we had fake sweeps. No money involved of course, but we won small prizes, lollies and chocolates. I wonder if they still do that in schools these days. I'm willing to bet they don't, I can imagine the outcry about introducing kids to gambling.

These days I live in the Southeast suburbs of Melbourne and the day is a public holiday, (no issues for the schools down here.) But yep, you heard right, we have a public holiday for a horse race. Melbourne is the Australian capitol for sporting events, so why not. We have a holiday on the eve of the footy grand final too, such is the state of this state. So of course we have a day off for a 3 minute horse race. Wait, did I say a day. Technically its a day, but in truth because it's the Tuesday most small businesses just shut down for an extra long, long weekend. So while the rest of Australia is watching a horse race, most of Melbourne has left for a weekend away. Usually still somewhere where they can watch the race.

Personally, in regards to the Melbourne Cup, I can take it or leave it. I actually enjoyed it more when I was in Sydney and we had a long lunch with lots of food and drink and even silly racing games to get everyone in the mood. These days I sit at home and don't do much at all except maybe work if there's too much to be done. One day I might bite the bullet and actually go to the race, or I might plan a big party and organise my own silly racing games, but for the meantime, the most I'll usually do is watch the race to see it if I've actually wasted $20- bucks on nothing, or if luck has smiled on me for a change and I can turn that $20- into $50-. I know nothing about horse racing, so I just pick my favourite names and or my favourite numbers and hope for the best. This year luck didn't smile on me and I'm down 20. Oh well, that is what Melbourne Cup is all about after all.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

An Aussie's thoughts on Halloween

I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney and had no idea what Halloween even was back then. It was only as I got older and the American sitcoms started broadcasting more and more on our tvs, and we occasionally saw Halloween episodes that we started to get an inkling into the popular American holiday. Back in those days though, here in Australia there were no decorations, no one dressed up and no one trick or treated.

When my kids were little, in fact before my son was even born we walked down to the pub for dinner one Halloween. Not that we even realised it was Halloween at the time. My niece and my daughter, who were probably 6 and 3 respectively were dressed up as fairy princesses, purely and simply because that's what little girls like to do and I can assure you that fighting with a three year old about wearing a fairy dress costume to the pub for dinner is simply not a fight that's worth the effort. Any parent knows that you have to pick your battles and I can tell you that my daughter wore some atrocious outfits when she was little. So on the walk back home from the pub after dinner, the girls noticed a couple of kids dressed up knocking on peoples doors and when we explained about Halloween and what they were doing the girls wanted to collect lollies as well. So for the rest of the walk home, that’s what they did. It wasn't really a huge haul that they collected, but it made their night.

That began my trick or treating experiences. Every year after that, the kids would dress up and we would walk with them, standing on the footpath, while they went up and knocked on peoples doors calling “trick or treat” while never actually tricking anyone. When my son was a baby, we’d push him along in the pram with a stash of bourbon cans in the bottom so we could enjoy a drink or two as we walked. When they got older and he walked door to door with the older kids we only had the one drink to last us the 2 or so hours of walking.
Halloweens of past.
The thing about Australia though is, we still don’t really celebrate Halloween extensively, and unfortunately some people can be really mean to the kids about it. My husband had a couple of heated arguments, especially in the early years, with people (usually grumpy old men) who thought it was okay to scream at the kids about “stupid American holidays that don’t belong in this country”. One year, the kids knocked on the door of one house to a really apologetic young woman who had no idea it was even Halloween (not unusual back then) turned out she was a dental hygienist, and although she didn't have any treats, she gave the kids toothbrushes. They actually thought they were best treats ever and were so disappointed when she wasn't home when they knocked on her door again the next year.

These days most people who don’t want to participate at all generally put up a sign saying “no lollies” or “no Halloween”. Most people have something to hand out to the few trick or treaters who do come a knocking, its pretty hard to not realise its Halloween as the shops have had marketed lollies and displays and decorations up since the beginning of October. We always have a bowl of snack size Cadbury chocolates sitting beside the door ready to go. Some years we’ve had no trick or treaters, sometimes 1 or 2. This year we’ve even put up decorations and despite all the rain this morning, it looks like it might be a nice day, so fingers crossed we’ll get to see a few cute kids dressed up as zombies, vampires and superheroes.
My 11yold trick or treating tonight.

So as a addendum now that we have been out trick or treating for the night, It seems people target the houses with decorations, not necessarily even bothering with the houses without. So with our decorations up this year we have had more trick or treaters knock on our door than any other year. And one house that is done to the nines. Front yard, back yard and inside all fully decorated. What an amazing display, and what an awesome woman who invites everyone inside to have a look and see all her amazing displays.

Just for the record. This Aussie gives Halloween a thumbs up.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Press release.  Gillian Joy and Authors Allies Literary Group and Associates are tying the knot. 

Press Release! 
  Authors Allies Literary Group and Associates is pleased to announce that AALG and Gillian Joy will join forces on the 3rd October 2015.
  Not only will we all, AALG and Gillian Joy be signing the contract within minutes of each other on Saturday, 3rd October 2015 but we will also be celebrating the birthday of Gillian joy.
  So let me introduce you to the author;
  Gillain Joy is a 46 going onto 47 year old mother of two who designs houses for a living and lives to write. She grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney Australia, the eldest of five children. She had two younger brothers and two, much younger sisters. One of her brothers died when she was only nineteen. No Chance to say Goodbye, release date to be announced, is his story.
  She once had a boss who remarked she had a hard life, but she states she never actually saw it that way. “Life is what it is,” she says. She had food, clothes, a roof over her head and a family who loved her. “What's hard about that?”
  These days she lives on the Mornington Peninsula, south east of Melbourne Australia where she spends as much of her limited spare time as she can either with her nose in a book or writing on her phone or tablet.
  “I love it here, there aren't too many places in the world that with less than a ten minute drive you can watch the sun rise over the water, or you can watch the sun set over the water, and there's just something extra special about watching the sunset over the beach, something dreamy and romantic.” Gillian lives with her husband, two beautiful but wilful children, a few fish and a very spoilt English Staffie named Cleo.
  Gillian Joy is a proud Australian, who loves bbq's, thongs (worn on the feet) and vegimite sandwiches and calls her friends, "Mate".
  Keep up to date with Gillian here:
  Or follow her page here
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  Guardian book one in the Guardian series is set for pre order on November 16th, 2015.
It will be available in print during February 2016.

Book two, Forever will follow in early 2016,

And Revenge, the final book in the trilogy will follow mid-2016.
  This venture is a unique partnership of the United States, Australia and South Africa.   

  Gillian's books, for the most part are set in Australia, treating her readers with a sense of the homegrown exotic unique to Australia.

Our passion is for the story, the writing and the art.