Not for me. Really?

Being the product of a broken home and seeing so many failed relationships, led me to believe that marriage wasn’t for me. In 1993, my thirtieth year I fell in love with my future husband. Within two weeks of our first passionate encounter, we were living together. 
At that time in the U.K. I had the perception that being gay was something that brought shame to the person and their family. I grew up trying to conceal the part of myself that was largely unacceptable to society. I became expert in hiding in plain sight. Doing everything to avoid the spotlight. The opposite was true in circumstances where I felt comfortable in being myself, to the point of outrageousness. Perhaps this is an insight into what might have been if I had explored this side of my personality. 

A couple of trips to Sydney showed us a completely different culture. When interacting with staff in shops and banks we were engaged in conversations together, not individually. People generally appeared to be more friendly and accepting of differences. Having said that I remember conversations about boycotting products from the island state of Tasmania because sex between two consenting adult men was still illegal. This was decriminalised in 1997. 

Combine blue skies, sunshine, and the Harbour with a lifestyle that offered freedom; this was an opportunity that should not be missed! With the the intention of giving it a go for two years, in 1998, we upped sticks to literally move to the other side of the World. By facing challenges together, we learned to depend on each other. 

We have embraced Australia as our home for almost twenty years. Over that time the World has changed, dramatically, including same-sex marriage becoming a reality for one country after another. 

In our twentieth year together, legislation came into effect that allowed same-sex marriage in England, Wales and Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland. On Saturday morning over breakfast in July we chatted about reports in the news that same-sex British citizens would soon be able to marry at the British Consulate. This coincided with a planned visit by my partner’s family, in October. We both commented at the same time time that this would be an ideal time to celebrate our love and the support of our family and friends. We then realised that we had proposed to each other. 

Much planning and organising occurred from that moment up until Friday 24 October. My husband has kindly agreed that I can share the following post from his private Facebook page. It describes how we became part of the above picture by Zest Events International :

“As I have been asked to share this again…amazing chalk art picture, the largest ever created in Australia in the forecourt of Customs House. 

The night before our wedding in 2014 we walked past the proposed location of our wedding photos and found the area barriered off. At the same time we bumped into a former work colleague, Andi, who explained her new company was creating the amazing artwork. She explained it was a comment on the current political situation in Australia. The mechanical head spewing toxic liquid and consuming books was the then prime minister, Tony Abbott (who was always a NO to same sex marriage and even at the eleventh hour yesterday was trying to derail it). The toddler in the picture, based on Andi’s niece, was left with nothing but mechanical creatures as the ones in nature had been destroyed. A sad picture indeed. 

When we explained about out wedding, at the time only possible at the British Consulate, Andi insisted we should be part of the installation and be photographed on the picture. The artwork took two weeks and seven artists to create and as you can see it is 3D, a no mean feat on something so huge.

So the day of our wedding, we had an amazing lunch, went to the Consulate where numbers were limited to 20 guests. I fluffed my lines I was so overwhelmed with excitement, I ended up with both rings and we all cried with happiness. Drinks afterwards in the Customs House forecourt and pictures on the art work. 

Now I admit I was concerned as to people’s reactions…I am sad to say I was concerned someone might say something nasty and spoil the day. One of Andi’s team had made us a chalkboard heart with “Just Married” which we had clipped to our lapel. We stepped out onto the picture and played around with where to stand, guided by someone located high above on Customs House. People started taking photos and asking if we had indeed got married, I beamed “Yes” more people gathered. Instead of insults the comments were nothing but congratulations and praise. A little old lady walked past thrilled for us. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”

We were also blown away when a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in an ice bucket arrived at our table. A generous gift from a group of people on there way back to Melbourne after visiting a production company on the North Shore. 

Over the next two days, we shared our joy of being married with family and friends. The golden light that seemed to touch our lives after this special occasion lasted for over a year. 

Our marriage will now be recognised by the county we have chosen to call home. 

Unreachable, not


The first time Norwegian Cruise Lines sailed to Australia and New Zealand. This picture was taken at the end of that trip. 

Our friends from the UK spent two weeks cruising to Melbourne, Tasmania, New Zealand’s North Island and back to Sydney. It was great to catch up with my college companion after nearly 20 years. 

Due to visit three years ago, ill health and earthquakes in New Zealand delayed the dream. 

So many things in life seem so far away. Sometimes, the belief that something is unreachable is proven wrong. This thought reminded me of the song, The Impossible Dream, lyrics below:

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear with unbearable sorrow

To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong

To love pure and chaste from afar

To try when your arms are too weary

To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

To fight for the right

Without question or pause

To be willing to march

Into hell for a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will lay peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this

That one man scorned and covered with scars

Still strove with his last ounce of courage

To fight the unbeatable foe

To reach the unreachable star

Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh

The Impossible Dream lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Colour compensation

There was a time when I would make a point of going for a walk at lunchtime. Since the construction of the light rail has picked up pace, the dust, sounds of heavy machinery and pavements being closed have stymied my weekday routine. 

This week I had to go to the bank. Something I used to frequently do, before my dependence on online transacting. 

While the journey up High Street to Randwick was noisy and visually unpleasant, I was rewarded with this glorious scene while ambling along Blenheim Street, on the return trip. The combination of textures, colours and shades was compensation enough for my weary senses. 

Before the parade passes by

Yesterday was momentous. It was the day, at precisely 10:00 am that the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics began sharing results of the recent marriage equality survey. I was fortunate to be able to share the moment, with work colleagues and friends. We were gathered around an iPhone, intently watching, as it was streamed live by the Australian Broadcasting Company. 

A majority of Australians said yes to marriage equality. It’s now up to the politicians, to debate and determine if equality will truly be reflected in the legislation. 

Later my husband and I joined friends to participate in the celebrations on the Middle Bar balcony of Kinselas Hotel. Our friend, Meryl anointed me with a glittering rainbow lightening strike. It brought back memories of our excitement of moving to Australia, almost 20 years ago. And of the vibrant and seemingly liberated LGBTIQ community.

In recent years we have increasingly enjoyed the familiarity of our home suburb. Occasionally tasting the declining nightlife, due Sydney’s lock out laws and online dating. 

As I stood looking up at the rainbow flag, gently fluttering over the crowd in Taylor Square, a song from Hello Dolly popped into my head. I could not shake that song for the rest of the evening, it was still there this morning. 

This rendition is outrageous. Resplendent with marching band, a heavenly chorus and Barbra Streisand belting out the lyrics. It reflects so many moments in my life. 

Today is one of them. 

When the parade passes by

Tropical croton 

When living in the U.K. I tried to keep a croton. Attracted by contrasting bright vibrant splodges against the darkest green background, this indoor plant, in the cooler climate, received plenty of attention. Then one day, inexplicably, all of its leaves dropped off. Like other specimens that did not survive my care, the croton species fell firmly into the ‘too hard’ basket. 

Fast forward twenty years or so, I realised that, given the right environment, the croton is relatively hardy. We have two in a pot, in the garden, in Sydney. They seem to prefer being in part shade, tucked in amongst other plants. 

This particular beauty appears to be thriving in its tropical, Port Douglas home. 

Magnificenct Jacaranda

Spring in Sydney, the time when the Jacaranda trees bloom. They barely have had time to loose their leaves before being adorned with sweet, almost unpleasant, purple, trumpet shaped flowers. 

Jacarandas are difficult to photograph, their magnificenct colour being lost against a blue Antipodean sky. I was fortunate to spot this one from a third floor window, while waiting for a meeting to begin.  

November winds and rain will soon scatter the petals. Regally carpeting the ground under the Jacaranda’s skeletal canopy of twisted branches. 

Tropical frangipani

I am used to seeing dome shaped frangipani trees, in Sydney, with plump looking branches and a mass of long, sword shaped, leaves. This example in Port Douglas, Far North Queensland has produced gorgeous blooms, with few leaves and a totured looking trunk and branches.