New Year’s Eve Traditions

Somewhere in the world there must be a tradition that says you should approach New Year’s Eve relaxed, refreshed, and regroomed. If not, I might start one.

Sis and I were sitting on the balcony lingering over our light breakfast, coffee, and chat, plotting how to do a spa/salon-at-home day on it (the balcony), when the pleasant ocean breeze picked up. And up. And up. They don’t call this Windy Wollongong for nothing.

So we spread some old towels on the living room rug and lifted the outdoor table onto them. We were still only a few feet from the gorgeous golf course and ocean view. Then we sat up at either end, with all the tools of trade of a beautician spread between us. I won’t tell you what those doodads were, because apparently a lady is not meant to share those secrets, although since I grew up with only an older brother and his mates, I didn’t get that memo. This was to be the first time my sister and I had ever had a self-care pamper day together.

To enhance the experience I mixed a jug of 50/50 lemonade and iced water, with a dash of Agnostura Bitters and slices of lemon, served over ice in large stemless wine glasses with bendy straws; asked the home assistance device to find meditation music; and then we plunged our hands into bowls of warm, soapy water and closed our eyes for ten minutes while we soaked. It was divine. There! No more secrets. Suffice to say that when Bill came home some hours later, after playing eighteen holes of golf, we were still in the final throes of spoiling ourselves.

It was such fun! And much more relaxing – not to say cheaper – than risking COVID exposure at the professional salon. We coached each other through, interpreting the various instructions, etc, of the things we had bought. Honestly, if you have a trusted friend or neighbour, I can recommend it to my female followers as a great way to fill an afternoon. Of course, men can do it too if that appeals.

After a quick lunch based on picnic leftovers, we set to making something to share with others for NYE. It was supposed to be a catered event in our on-site restaurant, but with rising COVID case numbers, that event had been cancelled a few days earlier and the restaurant closed. So residents came up with various alternatives. Some celebrated in each other’s apartments, some outside at the BBQ area next to the tennis courts, one group in the “Zen” garden off our library. Sounds a magical place to live doesn’t it? We settled on a ‘do drop in’ in our communal lounge area. In the end we were a small group of ten, with everyone bringing their own wine and a plate of something. My sister was a great hit – I joke to people that she is the nice version of me – and she enjoyed meeting even more of the friends I have made since moving here.

Landscaped gardens
The Zen Garden. Source:

One kilo (2+ pounds) of minced (ground) beef in the fridge made our choice of bite-sized meatballs a no-brainer, and we tried to stay healthy by baking them. That worked pretty well, once we’d dealt with a surplus of fat run-off. Then I suggested we make a sweet and sour sauce and drop the meatballs in it. Here, the leftover juice from the picnic’s pineapple came in very handy. I can’t share the recipe, because it was one of those things that just happened – but I can assure you they were well received.

One lady prepared an amazing dish of a loaf of sourdough bread, with ham and other things poked between the slices, topped with tomato salsa and cheese , then baked in the oven. The recipe was touted as a bread pull-apart making use of all that ham that gets leftover from Christmas…Intriguing and filling!

The 9pm family-friendly fireworks, staged in the protected area of Belmore Basin, are a staple of NYE entertainment in Wollongong. This year, someone on the local council had the smart idea of having them fire higher in the air, so that people did not need to congregate and crowd around the basin. All other entertainment had been cancelled a month before..

File:Wollongong Harbour 2.jpg
A panoramic view of Wollongong Harbour. On the left, the northern breakwater protects the private fleet in the foreground. On the opposite side of the harbour entrance is the historic Breakwater Lighthouse, and part of the inner Belmore Basin housing the commercial fishing fleet can be seen. In the middle distance is the Wollongong Head Lighthouse on Flagstaff Hill / Flagstaff Point. The flat roofed grey building to the right is the Fisherman’s Co-Op and a restaurant.
Date 21 December 2008 Source Own work Author Grogan deYobbo (from Wikimedia Commons)

And below are a couple of other photos (mine) taken from the far side of the above shot. Now you can clearly see the commercial fishing fleet and the Breakwater Lighthouse, with Belmore Basin behind. Wollongong is distinctive for having two lighthouses in close proximity.

At 9pm, residents came from various directions (irony intended) to gather on our communal outdoor pond deck, and we waited, and waited. The winds had not dropped all afternoon. After about fifteen minutes we drifted back to our parties. No sooner, the wind suddenly dropped, and minutes later the first boom of an exploding rocket was heard. Back out we rushed, and it was quite the show. I’m always a bit cynical of fireworks, thinking of all the money that goes up in smoke – but there is no denying – they do put the spark in New Year’s Eve.

IRT Links Seaside - Retirement Village Golf View
Part of the Pond Deck. Source:

The big surprise was what happened next.

Yes folks! We actually made it to New Year’s Eve! No hugging, kissing, popping corks, linking arms and singing Auld Lang Syne, but we got there, healthy and safe. Not to mention relaxed, refreshed, and regroomed. Okay, maybe a bit frazzled by midnight – but you get the sentiment.

Mid January is a bit late to be wishing all my followers a safe and healthy 2022, but that sentiment, also, still holds. Was anyone brave enough to make a resolution? Or shall we just continue to buckle in tight and wait to sit out the continuing storm?

If this video plays, it is courtesy of my sister.

18 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve Traditions

  1. Wow! What a great way to celebrate and still manage to stay reasonably safe. The Zen garden is gorgeous, and the fireworks were outstanding (thanks to your sister). I also loved seeing and reading about the harbor. What a lovely, neighborly place to live. Things over here are in a grand mess as usual. Still, I’m happy to say David and I are fully vaccinated and boosted, wear those fancy face masks when necessary, and have home-kits for testing (in case we have symptoms of Covid). I can’t imagine how extroverts over here are getting through all this semi-isolation. Happy (belated) New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, hopefully no one is 100% extrovert or introvert, so hopefully they find a happy medium. Very hard on the young people who feel that life is passing them by (of course, some choose to throw caution to the winds, but that is human nature).
      It is a lovely place to live, and so nice we look out for each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: All Good Things Must Come to an End… | The Reluctant Retiree

  3. Yes Gwen it was a great night! Your meatballs were the best I’ve tasted. Lets hope NYE 2022 can be a bit more normal but, you’ll go a long way to recreate the marvellous camaradie of our 2021 time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What did our Premier say the other day? “We just have to push through the pandemic?” What does that actually mean?
      All I can do, I figure, is try to remember the recipe for those meatballs. There’ll be many more of those small, safe, relaxed 2021 NYE gatherings before we start popping the corks again.


  4. Glad you braved ‘other people’ and had company for NYE. Here, we’ve been told everyone will get Omicron sooner or later and to make sure you’re triple jabbed and as healthy as you can be (?). My sister’s just had it (late 50s, fully vaxxed) and wasn’t too bad, but not a pleasant experience and it did wipe her out for several days. By the way the ‘bread pull-apart’ I think we call it ‘tear ‘n share’ bread here. Do you think that’s the same thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be the same bread dish.
      Bill has just returned from having his booster and me tomorrow. So in a couple of weeks we should be as protected as possible, together with continuing our cautious lifestyle. The sister who visited here lives and works in northwest Sydney and is more exposed than us. She is longing to retrieve the sense of safety she felt in our surroundings. The other sister came down positive after her NYE celebration. True to her belief in the power of positive thinking she insists that she’s had worse colds, but others I’ve heard from paint a different picture. No hospitalisations within my circle, thank goodness.
      We have the same sense of inevitability, but I’m not rushing out to acquire Omicron or Delta. I’m not feeling restricted in what I want to do at the moment. Writing – like your art – is an introspective activity. So no need to push my boundaries.

      Liked by 1 person

      • From what I read it’s the booster that’s the key to getting through this reasonably okay. Can’t remember if I told you, but my daughter (under 30) had Omicron just before Christmas in London before she was eligible for the booster. She was really quite poorly, high fever with hallucinations, hives, a swollen neck and totally wiped out. It was not good and she was almost at the point of going to A&E when the intensity began to subside on the fifth day. The experience certainly gave her a scare. So pleased you’re getting your booster today. Agree with you there’s no point in unnecessarily pushing the boundaries at present.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Well I don’t think I’ll try the pampering thingamajig stuff. My face and body are a bit beyond it, but it certainly seems that you have had a great time while having your sister around. “The Nice Version”. As far as I can remember you were a reasonably nice version of yourself. The fireworks looked great like fireworks should and it is coincidental that tonight in Ballarat there was a huge display at the lake which I missed because I didn’t know it was on – which is a bit depressing and indicates just how divorced from my local community I have become. They did make a lot of noise and lots of dogs made a lot of noise as well. I am impressed by the ZEN garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John! Hey, with some of the tricks my sister taught me, I might add another two years to this “maturing” face also 🙂
      No local paper free delivery or are they a thing of the past? To hook into what’s going on. Or maybe time to join the men’s shed. You have much to offer in that regard.

      Liked by 2 people

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