Saturday, September 6, 2008

Back from beyond

A lot has happened since my last post. I am a very bad girl for not posting more often. I have been to the UK for work, Rob and I took five weeks off to travel up to Darwin by microlight and our shed in Jurien Bay is nearly constructed. I haven't been doing much craft work but I have been buying Japanese craft books on EBay like there is no tomorrow.

Microlight Challenge

We recently took part in a group challenge where eight microlights and three support vehicles traveled from Perth to Brisbane over a five week period to raise awareness and money to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Leukemia Foundation.

The Team:


Jon Ingram

Married to Jacqui with two sons aged eight and five. Jon ran his own IT business for many years but sold this in 2003 and now works in ‘Software’. Jon is ‘just shy’ of fifty but learnt to fly specifically for this challenge and has purchased a P&M Aviation GT450S ready for the trip. Jon was one of the original planners of the trip back in 2005 along with Ian & Angus

Ian Nuttall

The inspiration behind the trip, the original idea was started by Ian and following a conversation with Jon Ingram the vision expanded into the Australia Challenge 2008. Married to Lusinda with two daughters aged ten and eight. Ian has had a varied past, he has worked as a ‘roadie’ for Iron Maiden, worked for corporate business and now runs his own recruitment company. Ian is also nearly fifty and flies a P&M Aviation Quik 912.

Ian and Jon have known each other for twenty years or more and are firm friends who share many similar interests. Both have always been goal or ‘target’ oriented. This project is something different and definitely a challenge! The bonus to both will be raising money for a worthwhile charity from personal and corporate sponsors….

David Seymour

David turned fifty in 2006 & is married to Sharon. He has two daughters & two sons. An Aircraft Technician in the RAF for 16 years, he now works as a Quality Engineer at Honda UK in Swindon. David accumulated many hours hang gliding experience both in the UK & Europe in the 80's & 90's, & obtained his Microlight Pilot license in 2001. He is very much looking forward to this phenomenal experience and to help raise money for our chosen charities.

Sharon Seymour - Press Officer.
Sharon is Dave Seymours partner and is responsible for producing press releases and promoting the Charitable fund raising for both Leukaemia Research & the Flying Doctor Service.

Derek Chamberlain

Married for about 30 years, until he lost his wife to cancer, his partner of 2 years also lost her husband to the disease. Derek has both a Daughter and Grand Daughter! He gained his NPPL some nine years ago, and has flown in South Africa, France and New Zealand since. He is an Electronics Engineer based in the West Midlands. Derek is looking forward to this challenge because when his Grand Daughter asks what did you do when you were younger Grandpa? He can tell her he wasn’t a ‘Miserable Old Git’ all the time!

Western Australian Team

Angus Horwood

Based in Western Australia Angus has previously completed part of this trip and is keen to join the adventure. Providing the local knowledge to help put the plan together, Angus is a key part of the team. Because he is based on the West Coast, Angus will be completing a full circumnavigation, and is still looking for others who would like to continue the trip from Brisbane to Perth via the Southern Coast.

Roger Bunny

Married to Jackie with a daughter Melissa, and two sons Brice and Robert. He lives in Bunbury Western Australia 2 hours South of Perth by car. He has been flying Microlights for the last 10 years and will be joining Angus for the full circumnavigation. He turned 50 last year and he also retired last year, so with time on his hands he is looking forward to this adventure.

Howard (Howie) Watts

A triker based in Perth. Current member of the Western Microlight club which includes Angus Horwood, Howie flies an airborne Redback with a 582 Rotax with a Streak II wing. He will be completing the circumnavigation with Angus. Hobbies are 4x4 Driving and flying trikes. Although he has been airborne in the 4wd a few times, he likes to keep them separate. Originally from UK but have been living in Australia for just over 20 years, (Perth and Sydney), officially he is now an Aussie, but still, never goes anywhere without his HP sauce.

Warren Watts

Another 50 year old who lives in Perth, (Morley), and works as an orthopaedic physiotherapist at Swan Districts Hospital. A member of the Superlight Aircraft Club based at Bindoon, Western Australia.

Rob & Fiona Donaldson (that's us!)

Rob and his wife Fiona are very excited to be joining the expedition. They have been flying Microlights since July last year and are due to pick up an Airborne XT912 Outback with Streak 3 wing shortly. Rob has been flying on and off since he was 15. In fact, he had to get his mates to drive him to the airport before he was allowed to drive a car, only then to be ‘pilot in command’ as he flew them around the Victorian countryside! His practical flying experience dropped off over the years until recently when he discovered not only the enjoyment, but also the affordability of Microlights. He introduced his wife to it and when she came back from her trial flight with a grin bigger than a Cheshire cat, he knew she was hooked as well. They have been flying, weather permitting, ever since.


Richard Baldwin - Documentary Cameraman

Richard is an independent cameraman, with experience in both the production and direction of television documentaries. His love of travel has enabled him to film all over the world including Hawaii, South America, Thailand, North America and now Australia. Richard will be filming the trip and then producing a documentary type program that can be sold to any interested TV Channel. Much of the proceeds will go to our chosen charities.

Brisbane Ground Crew

We have a ground support team who will be following in a 4x4, for the whole trip from Perth to Brisbane.

John Sharman

Married to Margaret, with three grown-up daughters, he is now “sort of retired”. John spent 24+ years in the Australian Army Reserve working in Infantry, Transport and Signals. He has been round and across Australia before – mostly in uniform. John will be managing the logistics of the trip and has thus far, been invaluable.

Len (Lennie) Nuttall

Retired entrepreneur, Len now lives in Brisbane. Having lost his first wife to Cancer , he is looking forward to the opportunity to raise funds for Leukemia Research.

Diana Nuttall

Married to Len, Diana will be helping with Administration support.

We had a great time and too many adventures to mention here. We met a great bunch of people and saw some amazing scenery. It is just a shame that it all ended so soon. We stayed with the group until Darwin when we had to leave and return home to WORK of all things.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Work, work, work

I know that it has been a while since I have blogged and I am going to try and do better I promise. Firstly, I have been sewing up a storm. I made a few little bunnies for my friend to on sell and they seem to be going well. I also made a penguin. I forgot to take any photos of him though which is a shame because he was sooooo cute.

I have also been buying Japanese craft books. I went on a bit on an eBay frenzy but they have all arrived now and it was so worth it. Now I just have to find time between work, study, sewing toys to sell, friends and family, learning to fly, preparing for a work trip to London and our big trip in July to sit down and read them and sew things from them.

Secondly, I have been preparing for a trip to London that my work wants to send me on. It is to conduct some interviews with new recruits so it should be fun. I haven't been to London before so I am looking forward to that. I am going with a great bunch of people from work and I am looking forward to seeing the sights. I have a huge list of things to see so I am planning on not sleeping much while I am there.

Thirdly, we are still taking flying lessons. Correction, Rob is taking them while I study for the course I started doing in management. He was hoping to go solo soon but the wing on our new plane has a problem and has had to go back the Sydney to be fixed. Hopefully we will be back in the sky soon with our own plane.

Lastly, I am studying. Yep, I had a few spare hours a week and needed something to cram into them so I thought that I would take on a course. Thankfully it is quite interesting but very intense. I have to do assignments again which is freaky. I write a lot for work and for the blog but academic writing is apparently special. La de da. Well, unit one is nearly done and dusted so just three more to go. The year is going so quickly as it is that I probably won't realise that I have finished until I graduate.

Anyway, that is all for now. I am going to try and be more diligent with my blogging. First I have to cut my finger nails so that I can type quicker!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Softies gallore

I have been making a few new toys from the many fantastic books that I have ordered from Japan. It has been very exciting getting the deliveries last week from so far away. Most of the books are in English but a couple are in Japanese. Thankfully the pictures are very clear I have not had too many problems following them.

I have been making some small toys to go along with my friend Karen's larger rabbits. She makes these big rabbits (called Wibits) and they are dressed as different characters. She has this range that are dressed as baby rabbits and they come with a toy for a little extra.

I have so far made two sheep. They are made from white Coral fleece and black normal fleece. I made them while we were up at Jurien Bay. We would work on our new block during the day and then I would sew at night while Rob kicked back and relaxed with a book or chatted to me about our block. It looked like it had been snowing while I was making them as the Coral fleece is fluffy and there was fluff everywhere. They almost didn't get given to her as I took them to work and was playing with them on my desk and fell in love with my little flock. I have to learn to let go!

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We were going to go to Bunbury this weekend and fly our new plane but the weather was not playing along. It was just too windy so we stayed in Perth, ate too much good food, visited heaps of people and I sewed while Rob cleaned his desk! Karen gave me some off cuts from the fabric she uses to make the big bunnies so that I could make some baby bunnies. It is velour and it feels sooo fantastic. You just want to keep touching the fabric because it feels so great. It sheds nearly as bad as the Coral fleece so you end up covered in this layer of fluff but I think that Rob is getting used to my extra layer of fur! I think that they turned out great. They are sooooooo cute. I have discovered safety eyes so they have these great big blue eyes that just clip in - this is much easier than trying to hand stitch them. I don't think they would have looked so cute with wonky, fluffy embroidered eyes.

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They really look like baby bunnies and I think will go really well with their bigger counterparts. I don't know if I can part with them though. I have to resist the urge to name them and handle them too much.

Valentine's Day

It has been a long time since my last blog and many things have been happening. Firstly we had Valentine's Day. We had a big morning tea at work which had a lovely red/heart theme going on. It was a really great morning tea even if I do say so myself. I made a cherry ripe slice which is to die for. The recipe is:

1 cup of self raising flour
1 Tbs of Cocoa (or Milo if you don't have Cocoa)
1/3 cup sugar
100g butter
100g crushed biscuits (use Marie or any other plain biscuit)
1 1/2 cups of desicated coconut
1 tin of light condensed milk (reduces the fat content. Once you start eating this you want to be able to reduce the guilt as much as possible)
1 packet of chopped glace cherries
30g copha


Melt the buter and combine with the sugar, sifted flour and cocoa (milo), and crushed biscuits in a bowl.

Spread a greased and lined tray (ie: lamington tray) with the mixture and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes. Take from the oven and place to one side to cool slightly.

For the filling, mix together the coconut, condensed milk and chopped glace cherries. You can add red food colouring if you like but it will turn a pale pink colour on its own so it is not essential. Spread this evenly onto the base.

Cook for a further 15 minutes in a moderate oven. Take it from the oven and allow it to cool.

Melt the cooking chocolate and copha together and spread evenly over the cooled slice. Cut into squares once the chocolate is set.

You may want to cut off the sides to make it all look neater for presentation purposes - these are great for nibbling and testing your creation to make sure it tastes fabulous.

I also received some beautiful flowers from Rob. He is such a great husband. They were yellow roses (my equal favourite with orange roses and Roses chocolates!) and a red heart toy - very appropriate given all the stuffed toys I have been making lately.


I made my husband his own special plushie. I had made a turtle from a pattern from the book Bean Bag Buddies by Nicki Wheeler. The turtle had been a bit of a flop but them I had the brilliant idea that I could make the perfect present for Rob from the same pattern.

From this:


To this:
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Yep, it is a boob. I made my husband his own portable boob. It has pride of place on our bed usually and I have woken up in the middle of the night to find it has worked it's way around the bed to end up under my head.

Valentines Day rocks!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

More new creations

I have been sewing new softies to keep me busy while my husband, Rob, is busy at work this week. It is the equivalent of the end of financial year for his company and he is flat out this month. While he is spending long hours at work I have been making some new friends. I am finding that this is proving to be a great stress reliever for me as well. After a busy day at work myself, it is nice to do something where you can actually see the fruits of your labour and can release your creative juices.

A lady at work mentioned that her grandson liked pigs. I thought that I would give that a go given I seem to have accumulated a plethora of pink fleece.


He is very cute. I am thinking of giving him to the lady at work for her grandson. I am very pleased with the way he turned out. I am getting a little more adventurous with my patterns. I have graduated from the two piece body to putting together over 30 pieces. I have been hand sewing as my new machine isn't all that good for the fiddly bits (I still love it though. I keep my hand in by making copious amounts of shoe bags. Good thing I have a lot of shoes!)

I was also trying to keep with the bunny theme that my friend has started. My bunnies are not giving me as much joy as the pig. I sewed these on the machine and the lines are a little harsh but I think that they turned out OK. I feel that I may have overstuffed them as they are rock hard. Not the cuddly bunnies I was hoping for. Not bad for a first attempt though.


I attended a family gathering on the weekend and was so pleased to catch up with all of my nieces and nephews and their new babies. They are all so cute. I am not biased at all. See for yourself:


Aren't they all just adorable? People keep asking if it makes me clucky being around all the babies. No. I love all my great nieces and nephews but I don't want to have a baby of my own. When they squirm, poop, cry or act up then I can give them back. I get to have them at their best and that way we all have a pleasant experience.

Now I must go and clean up all of the mess from my creative juices that squirted out during my toy making escapades in preparation for my husband coming home from another long day at work. Now I need to think about what to make next?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Australia Day Long Weekend

Australians all let us rejoice for today we are not at work!

Today my husband and I slept in until 11 am. For us this is very unusual but we could just not bring ourselves to get up and venture out of the bedroom. It was so comfy and cosy in bed and we didn't have any pressing engagements so it seemed sensible to stay right where we were.

I thought that I would post an update on the softies I have been making. A friend of mine is making some wonderful calico rabbits and is going to start selling them of ebay. She invited me to sell some of my creations through her ebay shop front when she sets it up. Since talking to her I have been experimenting with various designs - trying to keep with the bunny theme - with various levels of success.

I would like to present my bunnies:

Blue Bunny 1

This is my first bunny. His head is a little small and his arms a little too big. I also forgot to sew his ears on until the last minute. Oh, and he has no face yet. Other than that I think he is very cute.

Red Bunny frontRed bunny back

This is my second bunny - front and back shot. He is a present for a girl at work who is due to have her first baby any day now. We had a baby shower for her and this was my gift. I had to sew his little face on at work before the morning tea. I hid at my desk and did it quickly so my boss wouldn't see. Not that he would mind too much given the amount of work I do (and the hours of free overtime they get out of me!). He was beautiful and I almost didn't give him away. He did get to hang out on my desk for a little while.

Bunny on desk

I also made some toys for a couple of little boys who are the children of friends of ours. They are both about 6 years old and so cute. Being boys I thought that they might like monkeys and space men. I had patterns for both so I combined them and came up with SPACE MONKEYS!

Space monkeys

I love these little guys. I would make some changes to them in that their little arms a a tad hard to stuff and keep stuffed. Other than that they are perfect. They went down a treat too. One little fellow held on to his the whole time that we were at the park (I gave it to him at our traditional Christmas in the Park dinner). I then received requests from his slightly older brother for a regular monkey. I now have an excuse to make a sock monkey.

I am in the throws of making little bunnies and will post a picture when done. They are proving to be a little more fiddly than I had anticipated but I will persevere - until I get tired and then I will give up and go and get another bowl of ice cream. Making stuff is hot and hungry work you know.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Back to it!

Happy New Year!

2008 has already started out to be a great year. I hope that it continues in the same vein for the remainder of the year. We took two weeks off this time starting the week of Christmas. By the end of these two weeks I am sooooooo relaxed that I am actually recharged and ready to go back to work. This would have been a completely different story if we had won any of the lottery jackpots during our holidays of course.

Let me catch you up since my last post back in mid December.

WORK: Well that just pissed me off. By the end of the month I was ready to go on holidays and not come back. My frustration levels had reached an all time high and I felt that I was completely trapped in a job that had no potential to go anywhere. I still think that the job has no potential to go anywhere but I have resolved to make the best of the situation this year and make myself more promotable by doing a few extra things this year. Not that doing extra things is a problem for me. My team ambushed me before the Christmas break with a beautiful gift and a card that they had all signed and written very beautiful comments in it about the extra work that I have done in 2007. What a great bunch - they almost made me cry. This team this year has been very good and I am hoping that in 2008 we will be left alone to do our work and do it well. If they just let me do things the way that I wanted to then we would all be a lot happier. I keep telling them that "Fiona's World" is a lovely place and they are more than welcome to visit.

I am also doing a course during this new year that will give me a current Human Resources qualification from Curtin Uni. This is being paid for through a scholarship that I was awarded from work so this is another incentive to stick it out until that is finished. It looks like a lot of hard work but I am always up for a challenge.

CHRISTMAS: We had a very quiet Christmas this year. My family are now very grown up with my nephews and nieces all producing sprogs (children) of their own. So my brothers and sisters were all doing things with their kids and grandchildren. We will all catch up in the new year.

We went to Dad's and caught up with one set of siblings there. Dad actually went to some effort this year which was nice but unexpected so everyone had made contingency plans and this left Dad with a lot of food left over. I am not expecting the same effort from him next time. Back to one prawn and a pickled onion each this year.

My wonderful husband bought me some wonderful gifts this year - he did have a lot of direction from me but that way I am guaranteed that the gift I get will be exactly what I want and the stress is taken out of shopping for him. We did the same for him as well. It is basically a win, win situation for us both. I got a BBQ apron (when you see the front you will understand why we picked this one) to go with our new BBQ and a bag holder. This is just the best. It is called a Handbag Hooker. This is not to be confused with the Happy Hooker as I did originally. I went searching for the website so that I could put the link in for curious onlookers. does not bring up the bag hook website that I was expecting surprisingly. However, if you go to you will see the item in question.

Princess Apron
My Christmas apron.

Bag holder
Bag holder in action.

Rob got tools. He is such a boy. He is getting into woodworking and is amassing a range of toys, oops I mean tools, to help him in his quest to build stuff out of wood. He has started a chopping block for me which I am a bit excited about as it is big and chunky and looks great so far. He is also making a frame for me for a present.

We also decided to take off for a well deserved break this Christmas. On Boxing Day we headed off to Coral Bay. 14 hours later we got there. Who knew that the Pilbara was sooo far away? We passed through some very interesting places. I kept replaying scenes from Wolf Creek in my head. Coral Bay is lovely. We just relaxed in our tent (yes I WENT CAMPING!) and played in the beautiful water with the fishes and the turtles.

We went riding on four wheeled buggies a couple of times. The scenery was just spectacular but the instructors/guides left a little to be desired. The place suffers from a transient staff primarily made up of backpackers who are passing through and want casual work while they are on holiday. Hence some of the "local staff" are a little too relaxed and don't feel that they have to go to any effort to make you feel welcome. It almost feels like you are interrupting their beach time.

My self portrait on a four wheel bike. Rob is on the bike behind me. Ignore the dates on the photos - the camera was not set up properly then.

Rob chatting to our tour guide Mark on one of the rides to see the turtles feeding.

One of the beautiful bays in Coral Bay.

Other than that though we had a really lovely time there. We had a powered camp site which means we could have our fan going all the time - what a Godsend during the humidity and heat generated by a cyclone further up north from us. It was so hot and the flies were putting on a great show. There was so many of them but it was even too hot for them to do much other than land on you and sit. When you went to swat them they just sat there and looked at you with a hairy eyeball that said, "Do you really want to do that? Can't we just all sit here and enjoy ourselves? Why do you have to go and spoil it by being so violent all the time?" Not bad for a fly.
We had a very lovely time except for our air mattress that kept deflating in the middle of the night. Each morning Rob and I found our bums not quite touching the hard ground so it became a balancing act from about 4am onwards to see if we could lie really still and not hit the ground before the sun came up. One morning we got up and went and sat on the beach while we waited for the rest of the campsites to stir. That way we could make some noise and not feel too guilty about disturbing other people.

I thought that Coral Bay was lovely but I LOVED Monkey Mia. We stopped there overnight on the way home so that we could enjoy one night of luxury in a hotel room with our own shower with water that has been desalinated and air conditioning! I would go back there in a flash. We are thinking of going away again at the end of this year and staying there instead of Coral Bay.

The dolphins were just gorgeous. We watched them being fed in the morning and they are just such majestic creatures. You want to jump in the water and hug them - not recommended as apparently they bite if they don't want to be around you and they have very sharp teeth. Not quite Flipper-ish behaviour.

Shell Beach just before Denham. The water is crystal clear and the beach is all crushed shells.

Shell Beach again. See the fly in the picture? They wanted to get in on the action all the time!

Monkey Mia dolphin. They come so close to the shore line that you feel like you can touch them, but it is best not to especially during feeding time if you don't want to lose your hand!

Feeding time at Monkey Mia. This dolphin is adopting the "Feed me now and stop talking." pose.

So, here it is the last day of our holidays and it is back to work tomorrow. While this is not the best news, all I can hope is that the year brings new challenges and that I face them as best I can - I resolve to not let the turkeys get me down this year and to focus on those things that I can control. I work with a great team of people so at least going back and being able to catch up with them will be fun.

Let's hope that 2008 is more enjoyable and prosperous for us all than 2007 (if that is possible!).