“The Good Life” Episode 3 – Summer in Australia

Summer at Main Beach NSW

Main Beach, Northern NSW, Summer 2003, copyright Gwen Wilson

Aaahhhh, December in Australia. The start of summer. The start of long, hot, blue-sky days. Beach days, barbecue days, picnic, fishing and outdoors days. School-free, work-free, carefree. Holidays spent swimming, surfing, sailing, and sunning. The first of the month sets off a scramble to post Christmas cards with pictures of snowmen and red-suited Santas, all the while knowing we will spend the 25th sweltering in shorts and sunnies, eating fresh prawns; and making sure we are near a tellie on Boxing Day, so no-one misses the start of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race . . . or the cricket (okay, that second one is an optional extra for me).

Well, that’s how I remember it anyway, before 24/7 shopping, workforce casualisation, and global warming. Yet it can’t ever have been true for all of Australia, as temperatures above the Tropic of Capricorn get too hot for staying outdoors long, and it is monsoon season in the Top End. Plus there never has been a time when everyone was on holidays at once.

All the same, dodgy rose-coloured memories aside, our weather is quirky now. Nothing is reliable any more. Some days are bright, some are overcast. Some days are both from one hour to the next. At the beginning of the month I was at the beach sure enough, and the day became so unexpectedly bright that I got sunburnt! Okay, well, maybe I wasn’t bright enough to lather the sunscreen, but hey! I am olive skinned and I’d needed a jacket the day before. And anyway I thought that hole in the ozone layer was plugged years back!

A week later we notice smoke on the top of the escarpment behind our coastal village.  It’s a bushfire, closer than we have experienced in our seven years here. Close enough to shut the main highway, not close enough to threaten us. What caused it? Who knows? We only know the temperature shifted ten degrees Celsius from one day to the next.

About four days later, which is just recently, we had a tornado. I KID YOU NOT. . . . A . . .  TORNADO! . . . Bill and I watched it roll along the ocean from the south. The spray whipping up looked like a massive wave, something like a tsunami but not as dense with water. At first it stretched along the horizon, rolling along, and forming a connection between sea and sky. Then we watched it swirl up into a waterspout, and as it moved north, out of our sight, it must have come closer to shore, and when it hit land, it hit hard! If you don’t believe me, here is just one news article on the destruction it caused.

In between these two events we filmed the in-studio segment of  “The Good Life”  Episode 3. The weather that day started out fine and hot enough. But by early evening thunder storms were rolling in. To avoid the sensitive microphones picking up any stray rumblings – and, for goodness sake, I didn’t want any chance of hail on ‘Red Dwarf’* which was parked in the open – we pushed through the news reading.

(* aka our “Fiery Red” Hyundai i30. We used to have a Blue Mitsubishi Magna – a larger car I nick-named “The Blue Beast”.)

I had a small problem though. What is the correct pronunciation of CONTROVERSY in the current vernacular? Left to myself, I give each syllable a light equal weight con-tro-ver-sy.

Apparently though, the preferred pronunciation is conTROversy. This seems to emphasise the word, that it has caused two schools of thought, as in: created one thing that is CONTRO to another.

On the other hand, when I lived in Leeds (England) for a short time in the late 70s, I noticed Northerners had a habit of coming down very hard on the first syllable of any word starting with ‘con’. So I guess their preferred pronunciation would be “CONtroversy”.

Pete Gatwood and me return to the sticky subject of pronunciation in the Cooking Segment. How should we pronounce ‘Oregano‘? I am part Italian. I follow the rule, ‘when in Rome, speak as the Romans do.’ So – I threw in a variation using full-on ‘Ocker’ Australian. After all, the dried herb we were using was made? grown? in Australia. That’s another thing you can never be sure of these days . . . perhaps it was “dried in Australia using imported ingredients”.

Pete and me filmed outdoors earlier this week, and guess what? It was blowing a gale. It was blowing so hard, that when he tried to pour oil into a presentation jug, the oil blew sideways!

So . . . that has only taken 800 words for me to present . . . TA DAAAH!!!

Episode 3 of The Good Life YouTube Channel for over 55s, 

The cooking segment starts at 18.39. Relativity, the production team, has managed to edit down to about half of what was filmed. They do a good job with continuity and post-production don’t you think?

(and it wouldn’t be an Aussie barbecue unless the flies turn up when the food is served. That is the black spot on my cheek just as I am about to eat the prawn).

Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy, and Safe Festive Season. I hope it is filled with family and friends, and much love and laughter, Garrulous Gwendoline, Wollongong, 20 Dec 2015



24 thoughts on ““The Good Life” Episode 3 – Summer in Australia

    • Funny you picked up on the voice. It had a raspy quality to it this month, whereas normally it has a deeper timbre. I tried breathing and humming before the studio recording, and couldn’t get any vibration in my diaphragm. All the sound was in the throat and nose. Same thing today. The outdoor tone can be explained by the feeling we were shouting over the wind, and just plain nervousness, but the studio tone is a bit off. Any hints? Our Christmas / New Year was great. Just waiting now for three grandchildren to arrive. That will be chaos for another week, but always great to see them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. How fun to know such a celebrity! I never thought about all those words and worrying about the pronunciation but I guess stardom requires perfection haha!! You are so multi-talented. Love all the information about the weather patterns going on in your neck of the woods. It seems so odd to me to think of Christmas in the summertime and I have to wrap my head around that it’s different in many places. Anyway, happy new year


  2. Lovely start to my week – really enjoyed your version of ‘Twister’!!! I’m guessing from your clothing it was a very, very warm wind (well I hope it was). Ten out of ten for seeing it through to the end with confidence and a smile. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Luckily we were quite warm enough. We were both quite nervous, so I tried the Laurel and Hardy approach, being the comedic sidekick to Pete’s straight man. My wisecrack about “at what point, Pete, did you think this was a good idea?” Must be on the cutting room floor 😀


  3. Oh Gwen just watched the good life it was fantastic!!!!!
    OHMYGOSH the sky is the limit for u!!! I loved it all!!! Loved the pond deck feature and all that wind. U looked like u really enjoyed every minute!!!
    Well done dear lady!!!!
    Love Fran


  4. I like my prawns in garlic & ginger tossed in a pan, quick and less messy and really tasty, and I always toss the salads with my fingers and hands never spoons, just like Jamie Oliver 😀 you should try it that way, much more fun and mixes better too.
    I do believe your pronunciation of controversy is correct although conTROVersy seems to me to be the way to go these days.


    • Ah I see where you are going with that pronunciation, stress the “V” as well. I am not sure if you can pick up in the video that I was so confused which way to jump, that by take three I am making faces in the effort to keep reading the Teleprompter. And the night before, there had been a discussion about the ‘S’ plate proposal over drinks and you can imagine what the guys with fifty+ years’ driving experience had to say about that! Their comments were still ringing in my ears 🙂
      Your prawn recipe sounds delicious, and I agree, mixing with the hands is much better. I was trying to look polite for the cameras, by ineffectually stabbing at the full salad bowl with the spoon closest to hand. Everything was blowing around in the wind, even the prawn shell as it was being taken off the flesh (which is why I am laughing maniacally).


    • Oh thank you! Pete and I are both still at the self-critical stage, and looking forward to the day it will seem old hat. So far, no one filming event has been the same as another, so we are still on a steep learning curve. So all positive and re-affirming feedback is greatly appreciated.


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