Colour for a Cause + a little giveaway

Being fifty-something, it’s hard to ignore the fact that, after genetics, one of the main risk factors for ovarian cancer is being over 50 years of age.

Or that each year 1400 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 1000 will die from the disease … that’s one woman every 8 hours.

If diagnosed early, the majority of women can survive. Unfortunately, most women are diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease.

In the absence of an early detection test, the best way of detecting the disease is to know and recognise the symptoms which most commonly include:

  • abdominal or pelvic pain
  • increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • the need to urinate often or urgently
  • feeling full after eating a small amount.

Ovarian Cancer Australia has just launched a National Action Plan for ovarian cancer research. Latest research shows that ovarian cancer is not just one disease but a collection of diseases. We need to rethink how ovarian cancer is researched and funded.

With February declared Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, there’s no better time to familiarise yourself with the symptoms and consider how you can help Ovarian Cancer Australia with their work.

Here’s an idea …

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Right through February, Chemmart Pharmacies across Australia will be stocking “Colour of a Cause” teal nail polish packs (teal is not just a so-on-trend fashion shade, it’s the international colour for ovarian cancer).

The packs retail at $6.99 and includes one white and one teal polish. A genuine bargain by any measure.

All proceeds will be donated to Ovarian Cancer Australia.

You can purchase in store or online at http://www.chemmart.com.au

They’re a fun little pack, great value and a can-do way to be involved in this uber-worthy cause.

 

A little giveaway:

Ovarian Cancer Australia sent me a sample pack. With a daughter who’s a nail tech, I don’t have call for nail polish, even between salon visits (lucky me).

So, I have one of these little Colour for a Cause polish packs to give away.  If you have an Australian postal address and can see yourself in this lovely shade of teal, just comment below (any comment from  a simple “yes” to a smiley face to an inspirational anecdote will get you in the running).

I’ll close off comments Monday at 5pm, randomly choose a winner (via the traditional hand-in-hat method) and then post your Colour for a Cause pack straight out to you.

And if you don’t happen to win, you’ll still have time to grab yourself a pack from Chemmart.

Good luck!

 

** Ovarian Cancer Australia provided product for giveaway.

 

 

Update on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

Being fifty-something means that I’ve already been invited to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (Australia).

I’ve actually been invited twice: when I turned 50 and 55.

Lucky me: bowel cancer screening could save my life. And yours.

Did you really want to see an image related to bowel cancer screening? I thought not. Here's a bored English cat with a red bow tie instead.

Did you really want to see an image related to bowel cancer screening? I thought not. Here’s a bored English cat with a red bow tie instead.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program began in 2006 and has been progressively expanding the age groups invited to participate.

From this year, 70 and 74 year olds will be added to the program, meaning the age groups currently invited to participate are people aged 50, 55, 60, 65, 70 and 74.

By 2020, all Australians aged 50 to 74 will be invited to participate every two years

Participating is easy. You’re sent a kit, you collect tiny stool samples in the privacy of your own home and post them off to the lab for testing. It’s not nearly as icky as you might think. And it’s free. Free. All free.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Screening Manager Kate Broun says: “Research* shows that biennial screening can save up to 500 lives a year and will take pressure off the health systems.”

The risk of bowel cancer increases with age from 50 and is asymptomatic in its early stages. Bowel cancer is the most common cancer affecting both men and women but has a very high cure rate if found early. Approximately 80 Australians die each week from bowel cancer.**

I figure the screening process is a small inconvenience that’s well worth the effort. Like regular mammograms and pap tests, it’s just part of staying vigilant health-wise and giving yourself the best chance of future wellbeing.

How blessed are we to live in a place and time when we have access to health and wellbeing initiatives like the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program PLUS the kind of medical care that can respond so successfully to early detection?

Do you participate in the program when invited?

 

*Source: Pignone P.P, Flitcroft K.L et al: Costs and cost-effectiveness of full implementation of a biennial faecal occult blood test screening program for bowel cancer in Australia. MJA 2011.

**Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2012.

Murine Eye Mist (preservative free) – a review

I often receive products for review. Let’s call it a perk of blogger-dom. Still, I only write about the ones that I love and believe are worth sharing. In other words, not every product makes the “being fifty-something” cut.

This one did.

When the folk at Murine sent me a sample of their preservative-free eye mist, I hoped it would be a winner.

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I regularly use eye drops to relieve my tired eyes. Long hours working at a computer screen mean I often have what I call “googly eyes” … tired, dry, heavy eyes that beg for a break (not always possible when I’m on deadline).

I’m not alone. Murine tells me that more than two million Australians suffer from dry eyes, including 75 per cent of people over sixty-five.

Common symptoms include:

  • a scratchy or gritty sensation in the eyes
  • excessive tearing
  • blurred vision
  • easily irritated by dry indoor environments
  • pain and redness of the eye
  • heavy eyelids
  • uncomfortable contact lenses.

Causes (along with extended computer work) include air-conditioned or windy environments, wearing contact lenses, long distance travel, medication and … ageing. Bugger. It’s no wonder popping eye drops is common.

And it’s no wonder I was happy to give this eye mist a whirl.

What’s different about Murine Eye Mist, is that it’s a spray. You don’t spray it directly onto your eyeballs, you spray it over your closed eyelids. Somehow, it’s absorbed down through your eyelashes to where it’s needed. Like magic.

I find it immediately refreshing and cooling. And the mist does give lasting relief to my “googly eye” feeling.

Remarkably, you can spray the mist over your eye makeup, and it doesn’t run. Truly. I wouldn’t have believed that unless I’d tried it for myself. Being make-up friendly means I can use it two or three times through the day if I’m putting in a long stint at the computer. Or even when I’m out and about between client meetings.

There’s no need for those awkward contortionist eye-dropping moves, no need to sneak up on yourself so you don’t blink at the wrong time and no overflow product running down your face. I find the eye mist application easy and fast, wherever I am. Hell, you don’t even need a mirror or a tissue for wiping up the overflow.

If you suffer from dry eye (for any reason) think about giving this a shot.

 

Murine Eye Mist

preservative  free | suitable for use with contact lenses | liposomes 300mg/mL

RRP AUD$16.95

www.murine.com.au

 

 

 

***This post is NOT sponsored. Murine did provide product for review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three-day mini-break in Hobart, Tasmania

Anticipation is a remarkable thing. Sometimes it’s rewarded. Sometimes it’s not. Like when I’d spent a lifetime (OK, half a lifetime) waiting to visit Stone Henge. When I did, I was underwhelmed. Totally. (I mean, it’s quite  … well, small. Isn’t it?)

So it was that I approached our recent mini-break to Tasmania’s capital with a sense of restraint. If Hobart could live up to all its press (foodie capital, art mecca, whisky destination, brewery hub, heritage central), then there was plenty to be excited about. Surely it couldn’t be THAT good?

As I was soon to discover … YES, it could. Maybe even better.

Tassie has been on our must-do list for some time. We hope to get back there later in the year in our little campervan that could for some serious road touring, but for now we could manage a mid-week visit, which seems a great fit for the urban offerings of Hobart. We have cheap air tickets, three glorious days and three targets in our crosshairs: MONA (Museum of New and Old Art), Lark Distillery and Cascade Brewery.

This is how it unfolds. (Costings at the end for those who care.)

Day One.

We (Mr P and I) arrive, early morning, at Hobart International Airport after an hour’s flight from Melbourne. Beyond the frenzy of Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport, Hobart is a walk in the park … chilled, no-fuss, super-friendly.

We can’t miss spotting our transport … the Mona Roma bus.

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We board and enjoy a thirty-minute drive into central Hobart where we’re given half an hour to wander around the famous harbour precinct before re-boarding for the twenty-minute trip to MONA.

We cloak our backpacks (our no-frills air tickets allow us 7kg each of carry-on luggage) and descend the three levels into the “belly of the beast” which is MONA. The gallery is almost entirely underground … a capacious, cavernous space carved into a cliffside. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen.  Artworks and artefacts are truly honoured in huge spaces. It’s busy (apparently it’s always busy) but the scale of the complex means it doesn’t feel crowded. Intimate, cosy spaces contrast with inexplicably big gallery rooms, all revealing surprising pieces ranging from ancient relics, to contemporary video art and, yes, that notorious wall of vaginas (seventy-seven of them).

A vertical sandstone wall towers several levels high (taller than Stone Henge). Man and machine have sliced through the natural stone to expose a rich, textural plane that’s an artwork in itself. We find a bar (The Void) thoughtfully dovetailed at one end of the sandstone monolith and elect to pause for a whisky (as you do), slipping into vintage chairs perfectly positioned for taking in the splendour of this human-crafted cliff-face.

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething

We wind our way back up through the levels, marvelling at architecture enlivened with hefty rusted steel, concrete and glass. Everything is on a grand scale.

Hours later we emerge into the daylight and find our way to Moorilla Wine Bar (it’s on site) where we order the local vino (of course) and snacks, and relax within sight of the vine rows.

And we’ve barely sampled the catalogue of MONA experiences: The Source Restaurant, Wine Bar, Museum Cafe, Moorilla Winery + Tours + Tastings, Moo Brew Microbrewery + tours + tastings, Library (5,000 books on ancient and modern art, MONA Shop, The Pavilions (accommodation), CineMONA and Jam (live music performance, outdoors).

[MONA is a triumph of philanthropy; the story is worth discovering and serves to explain MONA’s unique culture and ethos. Seek it out.]

It’s hard to leave, but by 3pm we take the 99 steps down to the jetty and board the ferry that takes us back to central Hobart via the new Brooke Street Terminal.

Our hotel, Hadley’s Orient, is about ten minutes walk away. We settle in to our room and wander around the newly restored heritage style reception/foyer spaces.

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The hotel staff give us the headsup on where to eat. We end up at Customs House Hotel, housed in a deliciously old, heritage-listed building with a sandstone wall of its own and a chilled-out charm distilled right through to exemplary service. (I still drool when I think about my meal that night: Porcini Mushroom & Ricotta Tortellini. Mr P had the Seafood Basket, and swears the elements were fresh-caught that day.)

We wander slowly back to our hotel, through streetscapes brimming with heritage architecture.

 

Day Two:

… begins with buffet breakfast in one of the hotel’s magnificent rooms. Glorious (the food and the architectural features).

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething, hadleys hotel hobart

We saunter into the nearby shopping district and poke around for an hour or so before heading over (on foot) to Salamanca Place, site of the famous Salamanca Markets (Saturdays only). We’re surrounded by character filled heritage streetscapes and we quietly amble through, taking in the specialty shops, cafes, eateries. We come upon the Nant Whisky Bar – a tiny space showcasing the golden drams of the Nant Distillery located about 40 minutes north of the city. Behind the bar is Liam who guides us beautifully through a shared tasting of three Nant drams.

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething, nant whisky, single malt

It’s a delight. And we’d love to stay for more drams and info, but we must away.

We take the advice of a Taswegian friend (thanks Alex!) and climb Kelly’s Steps up to Battery Point, the oldest part of town where the buildings are even more fascinating. If that’s even possible.

There’s just enough time to hotfoot along to the Harbour Lights Cafe (on the waterfront) where Mr P orders a sumptuous Scallop Pie (a must-do Tassie tradition) while I work my way through the best-presented bowl of fruit salad and yoghurt I’ve ever devoured. (Foodie capital? Hell, yeah.)

We’re on a schedule. At 1.30pm we’re due at the Lark Distillery (less than ten minutes walk from our lunch spot) where we’ll join the half-day tour. This experience is such a treat, I’m giving it a blogpost all its own. (Watch this space.) Suffice to say, we had a splendid afternoon.

Some time after 6pm we mosey back to our hotel and opt for a nanna nap. We’re about done. Amazing what a mircrosleep can do – we rally and walk the fifteen minutes to The Fluke and Bruce where we hunker down on local beers and delectable dinners (Bean Burrito for me).

We take the long way back to our hotel, and swing by Joe’s Garage for a beer. It’s like your best mate’s man cave on steroids. So much fun.

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething, joe's garage
We even find some street art.

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething

Now we are REALLY done.

 

Day Three.

We dally over another excellent hotel buffet breakfast while we plan our final day in beautiful Hobart.

We’ve calculated we can catch the 12.10pm bus from the city to the Cascade Brewery (we’re booked for the 2.30pm tour), giving us 2-3 hours to explore the Maritime Museum of Tasmania this morning, which, like almost everything, is just a short walk away.

We drop into the Hobart Town Hall on the way and the receptionist invites us to take the stunning old staircase up to view the ballroom. We’re glad she did.

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The maritime museum is a revelation of intriguing artefacts and fascinating stories well-told. We could spend hours more here, chatting to the generous-of-spirit volunteers and hearing more of those “old salty” tales.

But we must away.

The bus takes us south east of the city on a fifteen-minute journey that culminates in an around-the-corner reveal of the iconic Cascade Brewery building … you know, the one that appears on the beer cans. It’s nestled in a ferny bushland setting and looks brilliant, yet weirdly familiar.

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething, hadleys hotel hobart, cascade brewery

We check in for our tour, collect our beer tasting tokens and find a cafe table in the expansive gardens of the visitor centre. It’s an inspiring environment and we busily taste our way through some house brews and to-die-for lunches (a giant angus beef burger for he; beetroot tart for me).

The copper tap pipes in the visitor centre bar are stunning, no?

mona hobart, visit tasmania, travel australia, midlife travel, being fiftysomething, hadleys hotel hobart, cascade brewery

The tour guide decks us out in high-vis vests and safety goggles before we join our party for an hour-and-half guided brewery tour. It’s a fully working plant, so we can’t get up close to the actual workings but the guide does share some interestign info. No photography allowed.

We’re pleased to get back to the bar and enjoy a brew or two with some fellow tourists we’ve befriended.

Just after 4pm, the bus and us start winding our way back to the city. We’ve organised the Airport Shuttle Bus to collect us from the hotel just after 6pm so we retire to the bar, order a local wine and some dinner snacks and settle in. Beside us, some old diggers are having a reunion and the soft tinklings of a piano player filter in from an adjacent room.

It’s quite lovely.

But it must come to an end.

We collect our backpacks from reception, bid farewell to the staff and clamber aboard our bus, then our aircraft. By 11pm, we’re back amidst the frenzy of Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport’s long-term parking lot, stowing our bags into the boot and wondering whether the cat’s missed us.

It’s been a break brimming with all our favourite things, and more. Hobart is a gorgeous city that thrums with a personality all its own. We found the welcome and the service faultless, wherever we went. There’s a chilled-out vibe unexpectedly paired with a devotion to excellent product and service, whether that’s a story-filled tourism experience, a fabulous meal or a like-gold single malt whisky.

We’ll be back. And next time I’ll let my anticipation run wild.

 

The bucks (for those who care).

Flights (Jetstar MEL-HOB, HOB-MEL): $99 ea return  (no checked baggage, 7kg carry-on, no frills)

Hadley’s Orient Hotel: $129 per night (for two, including welcome wine, continental buffet breakfasts)

Mona Roma Bus: Airport to MONA $20 ea

MONA admission: $20 ea (FREE for Tasmanians)

MONA Ferry (MONA to Hobart): $20 ea

Nant Whisky Tasting: $35 for three drams

Lark Distillery Tour: $75 ea for half-day tour + tastings

Cascade Brewery Tour: $25 ea including 3 x beer tastings

Maritime Museum of Tasmania: $9 ea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arcadia—sound of the sea … a memory-kindling photographic exhibition

Being fifty-something means that at least part of your teenage years occupied the seventies.

In my seventies teenage world, where our little house in the suburbs was a 30-minute drive from world-class surf beaches, the cool kids were the surfer boys … the guys who somehow disappeared each weekend, made their way to the coast and reappeared sometime mid-morning Monday in their subtly cooler version of the school uniform. They drove VW beetles or kombi vans, or hitchhiked with their boards and sleeping bags. They were typically chilled, bronzed, dreamy and sporting sun-bleached beach hair (their earthy interpretation of the seventies big hair trend).

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A snap of one of John Witzig’s images.

The other guys wanted to be like them. The girls wanted to be with them. But the surfer boys knew what they wanted … superb surf breaks, relaxation and the cool surfie chicks who also managed to make their way to the coast (not us).

The surfer boys were part of a sub-culture that was yet to be commercialised. They seemed to share a “natural” view of the world, a sense of freedom and a pared back philosophy that out-cooled the hippies of the sixties.

For me, Arcadia—sound of the sea, a photographic exhibition currently on at Geelong Gallery until 22 February, captures the seventies surfer boy spirit brilliantly. Most of the images are the work of John Witzig, co-founder of Tracks, a renowned surf magazine that explored the physical and political world of the surfer culture of the time.

From the Geelong Gallery flyer: “Imbued with a romantic conception of the awesome and spiritually restorative force of the sea, Arcadia—sound of the sea expresses the free-spirited, revolutionary character of a group of young and perfectly-formed (sic) Australian surfers in the early 1970s.”

The surfer boys were undoubtedly the “beautiful people” of my teenage years and I love how these images transported me back to a time when I coveted being part of their world … it’s a richly textured window into the cool kids’ cosmos.

Who were the cool kids in your teenage corner of the world?

 

Arcadia—sound of the sea

until February 22

Geelong Gallery
Little Malop Street, Geelong
Ph: 03 5229 3645

Open daily 10am – 5pm

FREE Admission

 

Thank you to the Goddess of Book Clubs (for surely she is a she)

Thank you to the Goddess of Book Clubs (for surely she is a she).

Only a female could pluck 12 unrelated women from my local community, throw us together in a swish wine bar and decree that we should read shared books and meet monthly to discuss.

And only a goddess could have created such an open, respectful, tolerant and honest space for us.

Just over a year on from our first meeting, our book club “The Timemakers” is thriving.

book club, book discussion, community, fifty-something, boomers, midlife

We’ve come a long way since that awkward initial gathering where we introduced ourselves and wondered how we’d all get along, this disparate bunch of thirty-somethings, forty-somethings, fifty-somethings and sixty-somethings, all from different backgrounds.

It was far more daunting than any boardroom of suited men I’d faced up to.

I shouldn’t have worried. We bonded fast through our love of reading and, as the months rolled through, it was our differences that enriched our discussions.

Each book had its devotees and its detractors, each character its admirers and critics.

We shared special stories of connection: those who’d visited the book’s exotic setting, read the author’s earlier works or knew a snippet of trivia worth telling.

Often we played “who would you cast as the lead character in the movie” or wondered “what if” about a plot twist.

We took turns “hosting” … organising questions to spark discussion. And spark they did: robust, lively and heartfelt discussion that ranged from the use of literary devices to our personal emotional reactions, and everything in between.

Tonight, we meet again to kick off another year of “The Timemakers” and I couldn’t be more grateful to the goddess who included me in this bevy of fabulous, intelligent, warm, candid and easy-laughing women. I feel a special connection and a sense of trust and friendship with each of them.

I used to wonder why my sister K attended two book clubs each month. Now I get it. It’s about much more than the reading.

We meet at Strasse Bar, just a twenty minute walk from home. Those who can come early and share a meal and social chitchat (OK, and a glass of wine) before the serious discussion gets underway at seven.

I hear that other groups have trouble staying on task and devolve into chatter about the mundane (you know: work, family, sport, holidays). Not us. We’ve vowed to keep our dialogue related to the book and we rarely digress.

We’ve now got our own secret Facebook group where we can catch up between meetings and there’ve been the odd excursions to see movies/shows related to the books we’re reading.

But mostly, it’s about our Tuesday night tradition. I love that these women are not connected to the rest of my life and that we come together without judgement and without baggage … just about whatever book the library throws at us for the month.

Thank you Goddess of Book Clubs for your divine work.

 

Life’s a beach … a mid-week sojourn to Rosebud

Being fifty-something, I know life’s many things: a bowl of cherries, a box of chocolates, what you make it. Even Google know’s life’s a ball, a happy song, an adventure and … a beach.

life's a beach, vacation, mini-break, rosebud, victoria, australia camping life, camper van

 

And so it was that we packed up our little campervan that could and headed to the other side of the bay for a mid-week beach-side adventure, shared with good great friends at Rosebud.

Around this time each year, we take the ferry across the bay for a day trip to invade our friends’ peaceful camping vacation visit some of our favourite people in the world. This year, we took the “other” scenic route around the bay and settled in for two nights and three glorious days with our friends.


life's a beach, vacation, mini-break, rosebud, victoria, australia camping life, camper van

With our little campervan nestled in the shade of towering gums, we set about updating each other on the year that was. Loosened by wine, our stories gave way easily … and long into the night.

The next day held:

  • a lingering, early morning amble along the beachfront
  • as the temperature nudged into the high thirty-somethings (Celsius), a slow wade out beyond the sandbar where we sank into the cool clear water and sat, with it lapping our chins, for what seemed hours)
  • a leisurely wander back to camp for lunch
  • as a summer storm brewed, a second trek beyond the sandbar from where we ogled the cool change thundering in across the bay while the gentle current swayed us back and forth, back and forth
  • a scrumptious roast dinner (thanks J), more conversation and giggles while Mother Nature filled our sky with a cracking light show.

life's a beach, vacation, mini-break, rosebud, victoria, australia camping life, camper van

 

2015-01-07 09.06.14

There’s nothing like time spent at the beach (especially with friends) for stripping back the layers, in all sorts of ways.

Rejuvenating.

Reminiscing.

Recharging.

Reminding ourselves that life’s a beach.

life's a beach, vacation, mini-break, rosebud, victoria, australia camping life, camper van

 

life's a beach, vacation, mini-break, rosebud, victoria, australia camping life, camper van