What we’ve lost since Grandma’s days

This latest blog has been prompted by an article I just read on LinkedIn titled Food on our plate: friend or foe.

As a Western developed society we seem to have lost a great deal of the simple stuff that was about in our grandparents days that contributed to us doing more exercise as a part of our daily lives.  Most people in Green Hammerton, the village where my Grandma lived, did not have a car or a telephone. My Grandad used to ride to work on his bicycle.

There was the village shop/post office that everyone walked to, they also walking to visit neighbours and kids walked to school – including me when we lived in the village for a few months during the 6 day war period in Jerusalem as Dad decided, the family would all be safer in England while he stayed on in Jerusalem. If we wanted to use the telephone we needed walk to the red public box located near the shop and bus stop whilst remembering to make sure we had sufficient coins for our call. Some years later Grandma did get a nice shiny new telephone in her house – I remember it vividly being green and us having to running to answer the phone, which was located in the hall, if we were all out in the garden – no cordless or mobiles back then.

As a child my grandparents had a large garden that Grandad grew vegetable in, he spent hours digging, weeding and gentle tendering to his crops of potatoes, peas, broad beans, rhubarb, strawberries and lots more. Gardening and fly fishing were Grandad’s passions both physical activities.

In her WAC Uniform
Aunty Nell – In her WAC Uniform

We’d take walks up to the farm to see our Aunty Nell, down the country lanes picking blackberries to go into the beautiful pies and jams that Grandma used to make. Yes, we ate lovely hot pies (Grandma’s pastry was the best!) with lashing of fresh cream, toast with real butter and home made jams too. Whilst we did not play organised sports our days were filled with activities that did not allow us to become couch potatoes.

Even the washing was a production as it had to be lifted from the tub and pushed through a mangle to squeeze out the excess water (watch out for fingers!). Eventually the mangle was replaced with a twin tub machine but that still meant lifting from the washing tub into the spin dry compartment. Not like today when we just press one button and it’s all done. The most exercise we get today is hanging our washing on and taking it off the line – although some people even have all in one machines that dry clothes too! Back in Grandma’s day our arms got a work out lifting the heavy, water logged clothes.

Whether I was in England, Singapore, Jerusalem, Rawalpindi, Kashmir or Beirut, as kids we were always active without really thinking about it. In England we would take long walks down country lanes, go on picnics in the Lake District, walks in the Bronte country and more. In Singapore we would play in the garden, roller skate in the park and walk round the markets. Ín Kashmir we swam daily in the lake, walked along the Bund, rode horses in the mountains and went fly fishing. In Rawalpindi we rode bicycles and played in the gardens. In the Middle East we played in the fields behind our houses, played tag and hide n’ seek with kids in the neighbourhood.In the school yard games of hopscotch were daily occurrences. We also walked to the shops, ran up and down the stairs to our classes and to each others dorms.

My point is that all these are physical activities which were built into our daily lives – we did not think about exercise, we just did it unawares and we didn’t really think about food as a friend or foe either – we just ate what we were given.

There’s lot I could add about fast foods, nutrition and more but I’m going to leave it here for now but I would love  your feedback on what has disappeared since your Grandma’s days that you feel might be contributing to us becoming physically more unfit and battling with weight.


Past, Present & Future

It is an absolute truth that the older you get, the faster time whizzes by! This was brought home to me last weekend, which I had reserved as a rare family only occasion, for my daughter Sasha’s 18th birthday on the Gold Coast. It was a joy to accommodate my little girl’s wish that her coming of age celebrations revolve around family. Her preference was for heirloom gifts which the women of the Van Buerle clan translated to mean bling! It was touchingly reminiscent of loved ones, some of whom we have lost, that Sasha received sentimentally invaluable pieces of jewellery belonging to her Great Great Aunt, Great Aunt, Aunt and Grandmother. All that prevented it being the perfect weekend was the absence of my son, Wayne, studying in Melbourne but we did manage to Skype him in for the gift open part of the family afternoon tea – the wonders of technology

On arrival back in Darwin on Monday it was straight down to business and pulling together the Dragons Abreast Festival final touches for this weekend. I am then shooting over to Bali next Thursday to enjoy a bit of rest and do some research for potential futures Dragon Sister Jollydays. In July I’ll be combining business with a school reunion in Beirut, provided the situation in the Lebanon is stable. Good friends and associates in the Middle East region are monitoring things and we are relying on them to make the call as to whether it will be safe to meet in Beirut. Some idle trivia: Stewart Copeland from the band The Police was at our school – wonder if he might turn up?! Worth dodging bullets if you were a fan of The Police and their dishy drummer, I’m sure!! Joking apart, those in the Lebanon and their safe-keeping have been much in our thoughts this past week or so.

I am currently tossing up personal options which I need to make a decision on by August if I am to accommodate them logistically and work load-wise for 2012. I really prefer to remain Darwin-based but the economics of having had to ‘buy out a spouse from the house’ plus shouldering the tertiary educational costs of two children, which must be reliably met, mean that I am not (like so many women in my position) free to please my preferences. The good news is that Dragon Sisters operates seamlessly with almost all its collaborators being located interstate and overseas. I am enjoying the Dragon Sisters client projects that I undertake personally and we still grow mostly by word-of-mouth with a steadily widening, diverse, client base and building numbers of contributors and participants. Our face book interface Tara continues to do a fantastic job for us and I think the page has been kept fun and informative.

With half of 2012 nearly over Dragon Sisters have reviewing the first half of the year and scheduling what commitments we can realistically undertake for the remainder of the calendar year. During our review, we also seriously considered changing some of our marketing largely because there was a minority feed-back that Dragon Sisters should be more easily main-stream identifiable. On reflection though, we felt that if we were to make these changes it would mean were we pigeon-holed and that would merely serve to limit the diversity which is our hallmark.

We have however taken up one of our coach’s suggestions for a simplified tag-line which now appears on Facebook as ‘Dragon Sisters is a personal and business development consultancy’. (Thanks Mike – it’s not only the girls’ ideas that get votes!). Frankly, this is as close to defining what Dragon Sisters does as I think we can get!

We could do with a good tenant to share our lovely Darwin offices. Recently someone complimented the Dragon Sisters premises as ‘a calm and welcoming space filled with positive energy’. So if anyone needs office or meeting space filled with a truck load of positive energy – sing out!

The one glaring fact to come out of the year’s review and forward planning is that there is going to be as much packed into the second half of 2012 as there was in the first! So whilst I will be juggling hard to keep all the balls in the air, at least I won’t be twiddling my thumbs, wondering what to do next! Just as well I’ve blocked out a little ‘me time’ to jump off from in June!! Every dragon needs some down time 🙂