Mix Tape….

Whether it’s live or on records, tapes, cd’s or downloaded, most of us like music.

The genre we prefer may differ from individual to individual but we all make a connection to music in some way. Whether it’s classical, instrumental, rock, pop, country, hip-hop, punk, funk, folk, big band, heavy metal, jazz, electronic, dance or the stuff they play in elevators….we all have our favourite style, we all have pieces of music or songs that we connect with in some way.

For many of us and definitely me, music is a direct connection to emotion and a source of nostalgia. I can listen to a song and it will instantly transport me back in time, it can remind me of holidays, old boyfriends, old friends…..it will take me directly to where I was when I first heard it. Music has the power to change a mood, a source of inspiration or commiseration. It can calm us down…or lift us up. It helps us escape in bad times and celebrate in good times.

Sometimes it seems like only the person who wrote they lyrics to a particular song we connect with understands exactly how you are feeling at any given moment. I can listen to a song if I am feeling down and feel like the song was written just for me….I can cry and weep and know that someone gets me.

If I had to choose one era of music to listen to for the rest of my life it would be the 70’s. I have a great love of 70’s music, particularly 70’s classic rock or easy listening type of stuff. When I hear songs from my childhood, I am transported back in time. I am always saying….Oh, this song reminds me of when I was a kid and we used to live here , of that birthday or that Christmas, or walking to school, or that girl I was friends with, that neighbour who was really funny…..or one of a million little things, that for whatever reason, get tucked away deep in our memory bank, only to be revived on hearing a certain song or piece of music.

Yesterday I thought, if I were given some radio play time and could compile my own play list….what songs would make the cut. What songs are my very favourite, that I can listen to over and over again and never tire of, what songs do I connect with the most, what songs comfort me, uplift me, make me happy?

In a 90 min set, on advertisement free radio, I’d get to play around 30 songs. So, here’s my carefully selected play list…my perfect mix-tape from the 70’s.

1. Gerry Rafferty – Right Down the Line.


2. Cat Stevens – Peace Train.


3. Seals and Crofts – Diamond Girl.


4. Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes.


5. Rufus and Chaka Khan – Tell Me Something Good.


6. Elton John – Benny and The Jets.


7. Looking Glass – Brandy.


8. Fleetwood Mac – Landslide.


9. Hall and Oats – You Make My Dreams Come True.


10. Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light.


11. Simon and Garfunkel – The Boxer.


12. Richard Clapton – Deep Water.


13. Steely Dan – Do It Again.


14. Manfred Mann – Blinded by The Light.


15. Boz Scaggs – Georgia.


16. Neil Young – Heart of Gold.


17. Gordon Lightfoot – Sundown.


18. Bob Marley – Is This Love?


19. Procol Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale.


20. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile.


21. Bob Seger – Still The Same.


22. Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?


23. Paul McCartney and Wings – Band on The Run.


24. Axiom – A Little Ray of Sunshine.


25. The Manhattans – Shining Star.


26. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here.


27. Billy Paul – Me and Mrs Jones.


28. Gladys Knight and The Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia.


29. Country Radio – Gypsy Queen.


30. The Steve Miller Band – Rock Me Gently.


So, there it is, my play list….my mix tape. I hope the youtube links all work so you can listen to my selections with just one click, (probably best to right click and open a new tab)….if not, you can find all the songs on my list be going straight to youtube and doing a search.




I love bacon.

I tried to become a vegetarian not so long ago, for many good, just and valid reasons….but I failed. The one thing I missed the most was bacon. If bacon were a vegetable, I’d probably still be plugging away coming up with new and exciting vegetarian recipes. But, bacon is a meat and I am no longer headed down the vegetarian path of life.

Think of all the ways bacon just makes everything better…….

Bacon and eggs just wouldn’t be the same if there were no bacon….then it would just be, well, eggs. Let’s face it….eggs aren’t very exciting.

A BLT without bacon would just be an LT! Who craves an LT? Ummmm…no one!

Pasta Carbonara without bacon? What’s the point of that? Meh…no thanks. Yawn.

How about Christmas without little bacon wrapped cocktail sausages….well, it just wouldn’t be the same.

I cover my meatloaf in bacon strips before baking it in the oven….it gives the meatloaf a crusty, yummy outer edge and holds the whole thing together. Now, if I omitted the bacon, what would be left? A lump of boring mince meat…..that’s what!

Have you tried bacon pancakes? Fry the bacon strip and when it’s just about perfectly cooked….pour over pancake batter….wait until it bubbles, flip it over….give it 2 or so mins on that side…..then remove from the pan, cover in Maple Syrup and enjoy. It’s awesome.

Bacon goes with egg salad sandwiches.  Wrapped around prunes. On pizza.  In hash browns. It makes chicken taste better. Wrap it around scallops for a perfect appetizer. Toss bacon bits with spinach for the perfect side dish. Bacon and cheese anything….yum!

Have you ever tried banana and bacon on toast under the griller? Do it, you’ll love it.

The list is endless….bacon is awesome!

And Then………

Just when you thought bacon couldn’t get any better….the good people at M&S went and did it again, with yet another brilliant idea.

Bacon on a stick!

Yes, someone at M&S obviously loves bacon as much as I do and thought to themselves, “How could we make bacon even better? I know, lets wrap it around a stick and make bacon twist lollipops.”  He took this idea to the head honcho’s at M&S. “What a bloody brilliant idea”, they all agreed, let’s do it.

A minion was sent scurrying off to find the perfect stick on which the bacon would be wrapped.

A while later, in a flat in Hammersmith….Marc and I were sitting at home, with the delicious smell of bacon wafting from the oven….and in 15 short minutes our lollipops were perfectly cooked.

We sat and nibbled the yummy bacon off those perfect sticks and we were in bliss. The edges go crunchy and the bacon in the layer underneath is sweet and soft. What a great combination. We had the perfect little stick to hold onto, so no greasy fingers. We decided this was the best idea ever. Perfect for parties, perfect nibbles with a beer…..and a perfect snack whilst watching Law and Order SVU at home on the couch.

Here’s two thumbs up to bacon and two thumbs up to M&S for bringing us bacon on-a-stick….or as I like to say, as it should be.

The Stack….

There’s something I like to make for breakfast that I refer to as The Stack.

It’s a combination of toast, hash browns, onions, spinach, bacon and egg. All piled up on top of each other….and it’s delish. Thought I’d share the recipe with you for today’s version.

Step 1. Finely dice and fry off one onion and a clove of garlic until transparent.

Step 2. Chop up some bacon into little pieces and throw that in with the onions.

Step 3. Once the bacon starts to brown….add 3 large peeled and grated potatoes.

Step 4. Stir in a couple of handfuls of washed spinach.

Step 5. On a fairly high heat keep tossing and stirring the potato, spinach, bacon and onion mixture…..have a little nibble along the way and season to taste with pepper, parsley, chives and a pinch of salt.

Step 6. In a separate non stick pan fry up a couple of eggs in a good knob of salted butter….I suggest over easy for this recipe but cook them to your taste. Poaching is also very nice and worth the effort….but if you can’t be arsed, like I usually can’t, then frying works just fine too.

Step 7. Make a couple of slices of toast whilst the eggs are cooking…..don’t forget to give the potatoes a quick flip and stir while you are at it too.

Step 8. Butter the toast. Get a nice big scoop of the potato/bacon/spinach/onion mixture and place on top of one piece of the toast. Slice the other piece of toast and serve on the side.

Step 9. Balance the 2 over easy eggs on top of the toast and potatoes.

Step 10. Eat.

There are a few different versions I make. Sometimes I make the onions and potatoes but cook the bacon separate in big strips. I’ll stack that on later. Sometimes I stack toast, ham, potatoes, bacon then eggs. Sometimes I top with Hollandaise sauce. Sometimes I stack with scrambled egg on top.

You can think of your own versions too and be sure to let me know…..but stacking it all up, one ingredient on top of the next is really yummy.

Try it….you might just like it. Breakfast….Stacked….as it should be 🙂


I live in London.

The meaning and the way I feel about those words changes from time to time.

Some days I’m quite blasé about the whole thing. Yeah, it’s where I live…yada-yada, no big deal, it’s just a city….whatever.

Then other days, I’m absolutely amazed. OMG! I live in Londuuuuun! How brilliant is that! 

It’s where on any given day I can see Big Ben or Parliament House, red double-decker buses and Black Cabs, Tower Bridge or Buckingham Palace….the very same things that people who live in other parts of the world can only dream about.

My Grandmother is from London and despite living in Australia for 60 odd years, still retains her very Queen like accent, I’d listen intently to her stories of growing up in London and going to boarding school. Back then, I imagined it would have been adventurous and exciting and lots of fun, just like the Enid Blyton, St. Clare’s and Malory Towers series of books I loved to read as a young girl, though I am sure the reality for my nan was nothing like the adventures those girls got up to. Still…I always fantasized about the day I’d get to go to boarding school in England. That day never came sadly, but my yearning to one day see London for myself stayed with me.

I was 35 when I finally made it here, by chance. I met my husband back in Melbourne 10 years ago. We were dating for a bit but I had no plans to include a man in my life at the time….I was going to move to Queensland and get myself some sunshine. Anyhow, you know what they say about making plans….life tends to get in the way, right.

Next thing I know, Marc and I are a couple, are on a plane and then touchdown…London Heathrow airport!

It was very exciting. We had no jobs, no plans and bugger all money. We found a hotel from a noticeboard at Paddington Station, grabbed a cab, went and checked in, threw the luggage in our room, then we were off walking. I had only one destination in mind.

Walking through Hyde Park and Green Park was just lovely, all the statues and gorgeous big trees, people walking their dogs and jogging around The Serpentine…..but when I saw, for the first time, with my very own eyes Buckingham Palace….I burst into tears. I was so happy. Marc thought it was cute that I got so emotional, I was a little embarrassed at how overwhelmed I felt. It’s hard to explain but it was kind of surreal, (I hate that word and try to not use it….but it really does fit here).

I had seen it on television, in films, I had read about it in books and magazines, I’d had my nan and others who had seen it for themselves try to describe it….but being there and seeing for myself, in person….well, it was just fantastic. All I could think was…I’m in London. London! I’m really here….at Buckingham Palace. Pinch. Yep….this is really happening…..more tears.

Over the years we have lived here, it’s really become home. I no longer feel like Australia is home. I still use the expression, “back home”….but, home in the Australian sense means where we are from, originally. Home, in the British sense is more than where we live, it’s where we feel  truly at home.

There are things I miss about Oz, and always will. I miss the casualness and friendliness of the place. It took me a good 6 months before I realised that people in London weren’t being rude, they were just keeping to themselves, minding their own business….not something  that happens in Oz. People in London will happily come for dinner or coffee if invited, but rarely, if ever, just “pop round” unexpectedly like they do in Oz….I miss that. I miss someone just being in the area, calling to tell me to put the kettle on, they’ll be there in 5mins.

But London has so much to be happy about, to be grateful for….so much that makes me love the place.

Yeah, the skies are grey a lot of the time….but when the sun shines through those clouds, Oh, how the people rejoice. People instantly get a pep to their step and will smile and say good morning. We do not take blue skies for granted here….it’s something to be celebrated. I like that.

Yeah, it  drizzle’s a lot, it can drizzle non stop for days, weeks even…..but when it stops, people will talk about it being a “nice day today”. I like that….focus on the good, focus on today.

The flats in London are fabulous, all that Georgian and Victorian architecture….I love it.

The galleries, are endless and free! Perfect for those drizzle and grey type days.

Want to see a play….no worries, take your pick….there must be at least 50 different choices in London on any given day.

The summer concerts and festivals pack every weekend with the very best in music that the world has to offer….and they are all here, in London….or not far from London, every weekend, every summer!

Want to duck over to Paris for lunch….no worries, the Eurostar will have you there in 2 and a bit hours. Pop over in the morning, come back after lunch. Easy. How could anyone not love that?

Europe is just over there….anywhere you want to fly to for the weekend, or a week, is just a quick flight  away. Zip to New York in around seven hours, Black Friday sales anyone? Brilliant.

I love walking along The Thames from Hammersmith, down to Putney, over the bridge, head to Barnes, stop for a pint and lunch, cross back over and head home through Chiswick. It’s a fabulous walk and a perfect way to spend a Sunday. Watching the rowing clubs practising on a misty morning, joggers out jogging, walkers out walking. I love it.

I could go on and on about London and all the fabulous little things that make it the greatest place to live….the sense of humour of Londoners is unique and very special. Grab a cab in London, they ALL know where they are going and boy-oh-boy do those cab drivers love a chat, I love that!

Portobello Market, Borough Market and Camden Market are brilliant. The sheer amount of choices one has in London is honestly mind boggling. The food, the pubs, the clothes, the parks….there’s something for everyone….all the time!

London is my home, she is a part of me now….and I am very happy about that.

Super Powers….

So, today I got to thinking about super powers.

What power would people choose?

X-Ray vision, Strength, Invisibility, Telekinesis, Mutation, Shape-Shifting, Flight, Speed, Teleportation….the list of possibilities is almost endless.

For me however, there’s only one option. Linguistics! If I could choose a super power, it would be fluency in every language on the planet.

I think if a person had the ability to understand and converse with every other person on earth, what an advantage in life that would be, can you imagine all one could achieve?

The first and most obvious thing to me would be eves dropping on everyone’s phone calls and gossiping conversations, I can’t even begin to explain how satisfying that would be, being the sticky nosed busy body that I am. I could be sitting at a cafe in some far away land, acting oblivious but actually listening intently to every word….that would be brilliant. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

I could work as an interpreter for the United Nations, IMF, NATO or MI6, FBI or ASIO. I’d get to hear all sorts of top-secret juicy information….yes, here’s the sticky nose thing coming out again.

I could infiltrate a crime syndicate or become a hostage negotiator. How exciting!

I could become a Diplomat and be posted to serve in any country on the planet, I’d attend Presidential parties and soirée’s full of fun and interesting people. Of course that position also comes with a much coveted Diplomatic Passport and Diplomatic immunity, both of which, I am sure, would be very handy to have. Oh joy of joys.

I could travel the world and order food anywhere I wanted and know exactly what I just ordered, I wouldn’t have to worry about ordering lamb chop casserole and ending up with a goats head stew.

I could catch planes, taxis, trains and buses with ease in foreign lands with no confusion, getting lost or desperately looking for someone who speaks English to help me.

I could read any book published in any language from any country. I could watch foreign films with no need for subtitles.

I could understand jokes from lost tribes….no more would I hear, “It’s funnier when you hear it in Chamicuro!”.

I think the ability to be the only person fluent in every language would be the single most powerful of all possible super powers.

I would be the worlds foremost hyperpolyglot!

What would you choose?

A hero….

There are a few words people use that make me absolutely mental. It’s not the actual word…the collection of letters that drives me up the wall, but more the misuse or overuse. Today, I’d like to discuss the word her0.

1. Hero:  The  Oxford Dictionary describes the meaning of the word as……a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: a war hero.

I translate this definition in my mind to someone who is exceptional. Not your average Joe Blow. I think the term hero should be reserved for the exclusive use of someone who is the bravest, someone who stands out above all others. Someone who is deliberately willing to display courage for the sake of others with no thought of selfishness or self-preservation.

So why are we using this word to describe anyone who is just doing their job, or is doing something a bit better than average, or is doing something they are supposed to be doing?

It seems to me, hero is the word of the moment….and it’s making me completely insane.

When the media describes every soldier that goes to war as a hero….how do we distinguish the truly brave from those who are just doing their job? Is every soldier a hero? No, not in my mind. The majority are performing the job they signed up for, the job they have been trained for. There is an expectation when one joins the armed forces that the need to go to war, to fight, may be required.

Amongst those thousands of troops heading off to fight….there are a few, maybe a handful who are true heroes. Sure, they are all brave and courageous, but there are a handful who are a level above all others.

The soldier who despite being outnumbered and under heavy attack  single-handedly holds back insurgents so that his platoon can escape to safety, is to me, a true hero.

The soldier who deliberately puts himself in the line of fire, who crosses enemy lines to retrieve the injured and carry them to safety, is a true hero.

The soldier who storms the enemy position with total disregard for his own safety therefore allowing his fellow troops to escape to safer ground or reposition themselves and break into enemy ground, is a true hero.

In the UK, Canada, Australia and NZ we reward these exceptional soldiers with The Victoria Cross,  in the USA the closest equivalent would be The Congressional Medal of Honor.

I think the word hero….in military terms at least, should be reserved for the sole use of these outstanding soldiers only.

I’m not saying that all those who serve in our armed forces are not courageous or brave. I am not saying that I don’t appreciate the work they do. What I am saying is I think the media should be saving the word “hero” for only the most courageous or most brave amongst them.

An act of valour, of true gallantry is rare, very, very rare. By overusing the word hero, are we watering down its meaning?

By grouping together the average and the exceptional and labelling them all heroes….are we diluting the meaning for those who are the most brave, the most gallant, who display the most courage, those who go above and beyond the capabilities of the average.

I think we should save the word hero for only the truly outstanding amongst us…..as it should be.


There’s a West Highland White Terrier that rules my life….and our home. Her name is Dragoncourt Olivia Francis Hocking, better known to us and everyone we know, as Ollie.

On the 29th of January 2006 she arrived into the world, on a farm, in Wales.

A four-hour drive away in London, on the other side of the UK, my husband Marc and I had been talking over whether we should have a baby or not. After much discussion and consideration, we made our decision and settled on not. We did decide however, that now would be the perfect time to bring a new member into the family….we would get a dog!

We did a lot of research. We wanted to have a dog that was a good companion, independent, didn’t shed too much fur, had few health issues as a breed, was hearty and rough and tumble, not too big, not too small. Then one day in Kensington Gardens we spotted a couple of  “Westies”. They were running around, covered in mud, tails upright and wagging and generally having a bloody good time. I immediately went home, Googled everything I could on West Highland White Terriers then embarked on the search for one of our very own.

I came across a lady in Wales who had a litter that was just about to be born. We decided that we would get a boy and I put my name down on the list of potential parents. I had decided on the name Oliver, but we would just call him Ollie.

Anyhow….the 29/01/06 came about and the litter was born. There was only one boy in the litter and he was already accounted for, so we would, in 10 weeks be taking the drive to Wales to pick up our fluffy baby girl, who I still wanted to call Ollie….so Olivia would be the name on her birth certificate, I also decided to add a middle name for her, Francis, after my dad, that was his middle name and Dragoncourt is her kennel name. So, Dragoncourt Olivia Francis Hocking it would be….from now on to be known simply as Ollie.

I couldn’t believe how little she was. She was shaking and so scared. I was taking her away from her mummy….but the drive back to London gave us time to bond. She sat in my arms the whole way home, cuddled up to me…..she was perfect and I loved her with all of my heart already.

Marc had kind of made the rule that Ollie would not sleep in the bedroom, least of all our bed. That lasted about a nanosecond. I had decided that as a dog, she was a pack animal, we were now her pack and wherever we were….she should be.

So we set her bed up in our bedroom, on my side so I could reach down and comfort her if need be. We bought her new bowls and a cubby to hide in, fluffy toys and squeaky toys, balls and bones and everything a growing puppy could ever possibly need.

She grew and grew and grew and finally after all her shots and the waiting period had passed…off we went to the park to meet other dogs and make friends. I didn’t understand it that first time….but very soon, time at the park and all the doggy people would become my world.

We went to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park every day. We met so many fun and interesting people, we’d walk around together, people would come over and say hi, talk to us, ask me about Ollie. I taught her to swim in the duck pond. She chased joggers and I chased her! We would come home and she would sleep….exhausted from all the running around and sniffing. I could get some housework done or quickly duck to the shops whilst she snoozed….but when she woke up, off we’d go again, for a walk around the streets of Notting Hill and Bayswater.

Ollie and I are almost always together, in fact if locals see me without her by my side, they always ask….”Where’s Ollie?”.

I can’t even begin to explain how much I love her but let me try. She is the one I always want by my side. She is the first one I cuddle in the morning, she is the one whose belly I will rub for hours on end….I have to, if I stop she nudges my arm with her nose. When I am away from her, I miss her and when we are making plans to do anything at all, I always consider Ollie in those plans. She makes me laugh when she talks and “walks” in her sleep. She comforts me when she can tell I am feeling sad. I love smelling her head after she has a bath, I love her fluffy fur. I love how excited she is to see me after I’ve been at the shop for a whole 3 mins.

I love the way she talks to me and can tell me exactly what she wants. She doesn’t use words like we do….but if she wants something she will let me now. She will scratch on the door if she wants to go out, she’ll go to the cupboard and look up at it if she wants something to eat, she taps you with her paw if she wants attention, she nudges for a cuddle. She is the fussiest eater on the planet. I couldn’t tell you how many varieties of dog food we have tried….but she prefers her mums cooking, what can I do? I make her chicken and rice and she gobbles it up. She loves roast pork and lamb shanks. She loves treaties….but not all treaties. She must sniff carefully and consider before she eats….it’s just the way she is.

She has her spot on the couch and Marc and I have learned that if we are in it….we best bloody move out of it if she wants it back. She sleeps between our pillows and takes up way too much room, we have learned to live with that. She goes crazy and barks at animals on the television, so we have to watch any show with animals in it when she is sleeping. She loves to go to the pub and will walk up to the pub door every time we pass by, it takes careful negotiation to get her to move. She hates cats….people should keep cats indoors….or don’t be angry when she wants to chase one down the street barking her nut of at it. She will sit patiently waiting for squirrels and enjoys stalking them….she’s never caught one yet. She loves swimming in the river….I indulge her this, but only when I have hours to spare, getting her out of the river is quite a challenge. She loves long walks on Sundays, exploring the streets of London, she is very scared of buses and trucks….so we take the back streets.

People have said to me in the past…”she’s just a dog”, “she’ll be OK for a few hours”, “who’s the boss here”, “make her do it”, “she’s so fussy”, etc, etc.  I find those comments ignorant and hurtful. Only someone who has and loves a dog can understand the connection and the concessions we make for our dogs. My Ollie owns my heart, I love her in my life, I need her in my life. She is my soul mate and without her I would not be complete. It’s as simple as that. If I can make her happy….that makes me happy, it’s my pleasure.

So, here’s two thumbs up to Ollie for being my constant companion and my best friend for the past 6 and a half years. Love….as it should be.