When Sam and I decided to move our wedding forward so that we could travel later in the year it meant we’d be having a winter wedding. We found that although we wouldn’t have the advantages of longer days and warm weather that you have with a spring wedding, it provided us with significant benefits.
1. The price per head, that reception venues charge, is cheaper in the winter. Also, keep an eye out for an added winter discount. Many reception venues advertise price reductions to attract bookings during, the slow months of the year. We saved almost a third on the cost of the reception at Ballara Receptions and were given exactly the same service and quality of food that we would have had in the spring time.
2. Finding a venue that suits you with dates available is much more likely in the winter. Spring weddings for popular venues are usually booked eighteen months to two years in advance but winter weddings are obviously much less in demand.
3. There are no worries about if it will rain and ruin a garden wedding. It probably will rain in the winter, so have a lovely chapel or beautifully decorated space organised to marry in. We chose a venue that had a chapel attached which came decorated with white flower garlands and urns as part of the hire price. I loved the gazebo effect of where we were married.
4. The days are shorter but you get gorgeous twilight photography opportunities. We had a skilled photographer, Peter Layton, take our wedding photos which I'm also using in this post. So far as taking photos outside, on our day it did rain on and off but we were able to gets lots of good shots between showers. I got sprinkled with light rain when Sam and I were having our photos taken after the ceremony but you’d never know from the photos.
5. Winter wonderland charm for your white wedding. In Australia, winter is in the middle of the year so we often have Christmas in July, I took it a step further and had a wedding in July. On Pintrest I saw a picture of a bride wearing a white fur stole and decided that's how I wanted to stay warm. I also really like the lacework of the bare branches on the trees at this time of year.
6. You can savor a hot meal when it’s cold outside. We had hot appetizers, entrees, main meals and hot puddings for dessert. The food at our reception was delicious. Our guests raved about how good the food was. The quality was exactly the same as if we’d paid the high season price and we got to enjoy our hot meal more because of the cooler weather in winter.
7. Choosing the desired celebrant, photographer and DJ/master of ceremonies, and singer for the ceremony is easier as they are less booked up in the winter. I have a post on making our wedding plans and who we used and I'll link it here.
You can still get lovely flowers in the winter. There are flowers grown in hot houses or shipped in from warmer climates available. It's even possible to put a bouquet together the day before the wedding, like I did. Your florist will be able to advise you.
Time of Ceremony
Plan to wed earlier in the day. We had chosen a lovely venue whose staff were experienced with winter weddings. They were able to advise us what time to plan the ceremony in relation to the daylight hours we would have, how long it would take for photos. They had a warm reception foyer where our guests were served canapes during that in-between time. On the day, it was perfect timing.
If I had my time over, I would still choose a romantic winter wedding.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
I rose about seven thirty and had breakfast of tea and toast with Sam. We talked about our excitement for the day ahead and nerves bubling under the surface but were very happy that the day had arrived at last and were sure it would be a wonderful day.
Sam dropped me at my sister’s house where I was to get ready, he then went on to his best man’s house.
The makeup and hair artist arrived around 9 o’clock and started working on my sister's hair and makeup. About 10 o’clock, my matron of honor arrived. My sister done they started on my hair which was curled with a hot tong and pinned up to set. The make up artist then worked on my matron of honor's hair and makeup. Lastly my makeup was done and my hair finished off. But I they weren't quite finished when the photographer arrived.
The photographer took photos of my dress, headpiece and flowers while he waited for me.
I must have been getting a little nervous so didn't realize that I'd been sent to put on my dress before having my lipstick done. The photographer wanted to capture the getting ready journey and started taking photo's when I still didn't have any lipstick.
But I think they look okay. Sam says he likes it because I look natural. Don't you just love it? What do they know? My lips were the only natural part of my face .
Then it was time for photo's in the park behind my sisters house.
With my fur wrap on it was time for Dad and I to leave.
Getting married was intensely tender and heart warming . I'll never forget how he looked at me.
Next we had lots of photos taken in the beautiful gardens of Ballara where we were married. I'm only including one of me and Sam but of course our bridal party were a big part of it as were lots of our family.
Cutting the cake and our first waltz were naturally highlights of the reception but being married to this dear, kind man is the joy I'll have every day from now on.
Our wedding day was supported by friends and family to make it a warm and uplifting celebration. My girlfriend made the flowers for the tables as her gift. My dear dad gifted my dress and my sister gifted my headpiece. My matron of honor and sister bought the wedding cake as their gift, a delicious Coeliac quality gluten free mud cake so I could eat it. (I DIY'd the decorations myself using silk flowers and fabric lace.)
The support we had on the day was wonderful. My sister opened her house for me to get ready and hosted a delicious gluten free lunch. Sam's best man and his wife opened their home for Sam to get ready and hosted a family lunch for him. We each had family and friends travel from far away to be with us on this most important day. All of this kindness touched our hearts.
I've got lots of lovely memories to use in my writing now. It's been quite a journey to reach this milestone but I wouldn't change a thing. It all added up to a very special day that has added depth and joy to our already beautiful relationship.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance
Luck was with us on the day we'd planned to have lunch at the Bankvale Run Restaurant at Marnong Estate. A rare warm day in late Autumn made the day perfect, from the drive through Melbourne's northern rural outskirts to enjoying 180 views of the country side.
Alpacas roamed in the field as we perused the menu and sipped a glass of sparkling wine. From the many GF options I chose Calamari S&P crust, chorizo, soft herb, hydroponic tomatoes for entree and Butterflied whole spatchcock Tuscan rub, olive oil, lemon, oregano for my main. Each dish was flavor packed and was complimented by the shared sides of GF chips and roasted carrots.
Good company, food and wine combined with 180 degree views from the dining room made this a very special day.
The walk around the grounds after lunch was a final delight.
A surprise on the way back to the car park. A giant chess board adding whimsy to the formal grounds made me want to stay and play a game but it was time to go.
Even the walk to the car park is a treat for visitors. The charming views around the estate just keep going.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Marnong Estate with me. Something about being in the beauty of the outdoors is so refreshing that it feels more like I've been on a holiday than just having lunch out.
Next blog is about my garden in late Autumn, talk to you soon.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
It's a lovely day to celebrate all the wonderful women who raised us. Yes, they are a part of us now. All the love that they gave us resides within and will never fade. Every school lunch they made and every night they sat up with us when we were sick was love in action.
It only takes a moment to think of your Mum on Mothers' day. If she's like mine, it creates a warm glow that lights up your heart and spreads to your cheeks.
Two years since my mum passed and I'm doing okay. I miss her like anything. A hug and a cup of tea with some of her home baked cake would be truly heaven. However the light she shone in my world continues to glow in my memory and I'm blessed with many wonderful times to remember.
If you still have your mum here to visit on Mothers Day take a moment to be really grateful for the time you're sharing. Give her an extra hug from me.
I know that lots of readers have children of their own, as I do. It's your day today also and I hope you've planned some downtime to enjoy being spoiled by the next gen. I'll be putting my feet up after dinner and let my visiting children clean up.
If you're stuck for some last minute gift ideas here's a few of my favorites and they were my mum's too. It's lovely to receive presents and I think the inexpensive ones are best. A picture of my kids in a frame is always a winner with me. A home decorating or gardening magazine that I can flick through with a mug of tea is a treat. Speaking of tea, special Twinnings tea bags are also an easy pick up from the supermarket. You should also be able to snag a card there too.
My children sometimes make a card which is soooo special and they write a little bit of how special I am to them. This is the absolute best part of Mother's Day. So take a moment to really think about what you're grateful to your mum for.
I hope you all have a really lovely day on Mother's Day and enjoy the special moments and celebrate the amazing work mothers have done and continue to do, loving, guiding and raising the next generation.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance
My most treasured things are second hand. Even though new things are very nice, there's nothing like the character only a second hand find delivers.
This second hand cane lounge suite is my favorite possie to drink my morning coffee. I looked everywhere to find an affordable romantic looking outdoor setting for this space, without any luck. This second hand suite was given to me after my sister sold her beach house. Her husband originally found it in an op-shop. I find that to get the character I want, second hand is most often where I find it.
When searching for a shabby-chic mirror, I went online to the usual home ware sites, like Ikea. I had no luck at all, but in the second hand Facebook market place, I found the one I adore.
The roses and ribbon that crown this curvy mirror say romantic, shabby-chic to me. Although I love the gold, I need a light and bright color scheme in this room. There are veranda's outside both windows which can make it quite dark. I have plans to paint it white using a little pot Annie Sloan chalk paint. The dark brown lounge is too dominant for the space. I'd really like a new one but I can't afford that. I'll make do with what I have and recover it in a cream or beige fabric.
You can see the chandelier refection in the mirror. This will also get painted white.
I've been visiting op-shops (thrift stores) in search of cardigans for winter. I did find some, but I also found some shabby chic picture frames and some very pretty tall glasses. The picture frames will be painted white and I'm going to get out my paints and create a still life of pink roses from my garden to go in them.
When walking in my garden I love noticing my second hand plants that add character. Plants I've taken from diving clumps of iris in Mum's garden and lambs ears from my sister's garden have taken off very well.
Cuttings of hydrangea, a neighbors gave me, have all grown well this year. A little burnt in our very hot summer, but they are budding up beautifully for next spring.
Dad gave me his grandfather's crown of rhubarb. It makes a lovely show of foliage in the border and I think of Dad every time I see it. Recently, I harvested some for a Rhubarb sponge desert to have for Easter lunch.
I harvested about a dozen stems and washed them well before cutting them into one inch peices. I placed them into a saucepan, covered them with water and added half a cup of sugar. I let this come to the boil and simmer until the Rhubarb was soft. I overcooked it a bit but it still worked out great. I added a little cornflour dissolved in water to thicken the syrup before turning off the gas. I spread it into a greased lasagna dish and then set it aside to cool a bit while I whipped up a packet mix of GF sponge cake.
I tipped a ribbon of cake mix over the top of the Rhubarb, moving the bowl up and down until the top was almost all covered. I lightly filled in the gaps with a spoon.
I baked it for about 40mins on 175C until the top was golden and the sponge bounced back when pressed in the middle. I can't believe how nice it tasted. As I'm writing this I'm sorry to discover that I don't have an after picture to post. It was Easter Sunday and I'd had a few glasses of wine so I'll hope you forgive me.
Imagine the sponge puffed and golden with the sweet and tart stewed rhubarb base steaming hot. I served it with whipped cream and it was very popular.
Because I feel bad, I'm posting this pic of some Easter eggs instead. By the way, they are sitting on a marble table that I bought second hand.
Creating a romantic home and garden doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I get to have fun seeing how far I can make my money stretch, decorating and creating a garden in my romantic style, but I also find the character filled pieces that bring my home and garden to life.
It's not something you can achieve quickly. A romantic home and garden is curated over time, but it's absolutely worth it and you always have a reason to drift through your local thrift store and see what treasures you might find for a song.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter and I wish you happy thrifting for items that will add character to your romantic home.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been to hospital twice. But in between, I've still been planning our wedding.
A chronic health condition, that I’ve had since childhood, decided to make its presence felt. I needed a couple of days in hospital waiting for that to pass. Fortunately, I recovered in time to attend a food tasting at our wedding reception venue but then had to go back for a day procedure. All is under control now, as long as I make sure to get adequate rest periods, all will be well.
Fortunately, feet up with a laptop counts as rest and as my head is clear of strong pain killers and anesthetic residue, I can get back to normal. I managed to put together a post for my regular spot on Romancing the Genres, about an adventure I had on my way to Jane Austen’s house. Follow the link to read that. It was the inciting incident that sparked my book the Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover. It was my first time overseas and I was on my own. I got hopelessly lost and had to rely on ‘the kindness of strangers’.
As I’m writing this blog, it occurs to me that the heroine of that book, Natalie, is an event planner. Like her, I’m in full-on event planning mode, organizing Sam’s and my wedding. As it’s in July I need to get cracking. So have laptop, will wedding plan. The other day, Sam sat beside me on the couch and we researched at least ten different photographer websites. We settled on Peter Layton and made an appointment to see him.
We sat on a comfy couch and watched samples of his photography on a big screen TV. He takes very romantic shots and is familiar with our wedding venue. We chose a package that suits us which includes a printed wedding album. He also helped with working out the timeline for the day because he needs to plan to be at the best man's house first and then go to my sister’s where I’ll be getting ready and then arrival at the chapel for the ceremony and reception after.
The night out at the tasting exceeded my expectations. Ballara Receptions is a beautiful venue with stunning gardens. The walk from the car park goes through them, past the central lake and mini waterfall. We were able to walk through the chapel again which sent shivers of excitement through me. We mingled with other couples and enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine and were served can-epees in the foyer. We went into the main reception room for a sit down dinner and had the experience our guests will have. Sam and I enjoyed the food samples very much, and tasting the wines. It helped us make our menu choices easy.
They had sample table settings and also a variety of place cards and bomboniere. I really liked the idea of chocolates as a thank you to our guests for coming. I wanted something I could put together myself. I also took a photo of the table setting that I liked, the crystal ball bling is so beautiful. I love sparkles and flowers.
My girlfriend is going to do the table flowers as our wedding present so she can use this photo to see what will work well.
Sam was very keen to have a singer at our ceremony so after some research, we engaged the services of a wedding singer called Sharon Crossman. She sings while the guests are arriving and then during the service. We chose a DJ who is also an MC for the reception. Grant from Le Grand Style Weddings is on the Ballara preferred supplier list and so offered a discount as well. The internet was terrific for choosing these musical people. Sharon’s website has samples of her singing some lovely songs and she has a suggested list of songs for different types of weddings. If you look for her on YouTube there’s a lot more clips of her singing.
The bridesmaids are wearing navy dresses which have been purchased. Sam and the groomsmen are going soon to order their suits. The Next job is to order invitations and mail them out. I’m still looking for a package I like that includes place cards and thank you tags for the bomboniere. I also still need to find a makeup artist and hairstylist for the morning of. I have yet to decide if I’m going to make my own bouquets or get a florist to do them.
For the reception I need to get photos of my mum and Sam’s parents ready for the memory table and a guest book. I need to make a seating plan and have it printed out on A2 paper. Ballara has a lovely white frame to put it in but I’ll have fun with fonts and graphics . I’m going to fill organza bags with a few chocolates for the guest gifts and attach a thank you tag but I haven’t sourced these yet. So it’s on the list.
The color palate for the day is navy and pale pink which I absolutely love. I’m enjoying this journey to our wedding day. I believe all of our care and attention to the details will make the day a rich experience that will stay with us throughout our marriage.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate, romance.
When I need some calm and beauty I head to a garden center, preferably one with a cafe. 'Lillies on Brougham' has long been a special place for me to visit. It's french provincial garden, cafe and shop are a delight for my senses so it's here I headed when I wanted to take the afternoon off.
I love this muted pink linen dress.
Balance is what they do so well. That is what makes it so calming and serene for visitors. The shop contains, soft textured clothes, dolls and cushions which contrast with and shiny pottery, glass and jewelry. Even a meal in their cafe is gorgeous to look at. Of course it tastes amazing as well. A perfect balance of sweet, savory and acidic flavors married with herbs and a mix of creamy and crisp textures to entertain the palette.
The seating area is a long space with views through to the established gardens that beckon diners to wander the pathways after breakfast or lunch.
After browsing the shop and eating a delicious lunch it's time to walk the grounds and take in the carefully considered, elegant garden.
An ornate urn draws you down the path toward a stand of pencil pine and globe shaped shrubs. Here the path turns and leads the wanderer to the area where plants are for sale, so you can purchase a little bit of French flair for your own garden.
Even this area is laid out in a way that shows style and balance has been carefully considered. A decorative pond provides a stopping point before rambling among the permanent plantings interspersed with bays of pots of trees and shrubs for sale.
There are a few concrete garden ornaments in the classic style which can be purchased to give your garden a distinctive French Provincial character.
A mud brick cottage creates an overflow space for diners and a focal point. It creates planting opportunities and is positioned so that the garden can't be viewed all at once. The meandering path encircles it.
The time passed quickly and eventually I needed to get back home to normal living but the serenity and elegance of Lilies on Brougham is inside me and is coming home with me.
A last view of the main building before I leave. I just love the simplicity and elegance of those box plants in white urns.
Wendy Fraser-Boyle and Melissa Walder run Lillies on Brougham, they stock the shop with their Lily and Lulu collection procured from France. They also run exclusive ladies tours to France. Oh my goodness, how I would love to do one of those. Maybe one day.
You can find Lilies on Brougham at 62 Brougham street Eltham in Victoria, Australia. Their contact details are T: 0394316622 or E: email@example.com
Dora Bramden writes Heart melting, passionate romance
The other night Sam and I spoke to the celebrant who'll be marrying us. We also made an appointment for our first meeting. The reality that I'm getting married again has suddenly set in.
Not only do I need to start thinking about what I want to have included in our ceremony, but what to wear! Just kidding, but really, I thought I had months before I needed to do this but we have brought forward our wedding to the middle of this year so we can travel in October. It's close to crunch time regarding some key decisions.
We became engaged last October and I posted our proposal story in November. Back then I thought I had twelve months to plan our wedding but that has been slashed in half.
It isn't just the practical side of things that has hit me, but the feelings around being a mature bride and getting married for the second time have also snapped into sharp focus.
I remember the first time I got married. I was a different woman at age twenty four. Naive but full of hope and romantic ideas about happily ever after. I can't help feeling some sadness about how that hope was stripped away and I found myself alone after 25 years of trying so hard and feeling like I'd failed.
I'm sad for her, that young hopeful, naive woman who tried so very hard to make the dream last beyond it's time, but I'm grateful that she learned a lot and has become the fifty seven year old woman I am today. It's wonderful but surprising that at my age, I'm getting married for the second time.
I've got a more realistic approach this time around. Sam and I have been together for five years and lived together for two of those. We can make this commitment knowing that there aren't any guarantees but that we each have relationships experience. We have learned what works and know ourselves and what we each need.
Being compatible is a very big deal. Like a jigsaw, the pieces are all different shapes but fit together to make a full picture.
Second time marriage is about commitment and caring. We want to continue sharing our lives. It's the marriage I want, not just the wedding. Of course that will be beautiful because I want to say those words of love and intention for our relationship to Sam, and hear him say them to me. I want us to be dressed up and enjoy feeling this special moment. I want the people I love to be nearby supporting and witnessing our union, our loving commitment to our future lives together.
There are no guarantees, but who would do anything if they needed that to take a chance in life. No one would ever write a book or create anything if they needed a guarantee. This is my second chance at a loving marriage, and I'm so taking it.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Sewing a dress on Saturday afternoon, to wear on Saturday night, was something I though nothing of doing when I was seventeen. But other than taking up a hem or resewing a seam that has frayed from wear, it's been years since I've sewn my own clothes. I've bought fabric and patterns on sale but haven't actually jumped in at the deep end and tackled a large sewing project.
When I was a student, I sewed from necessity. Dresses were expensive but fabric was cheap. Now it's the opposite, you can buy a dress cheaper than it costs to make it yourself.
But I long to feel the thrill of wearing something I've created. Some YouTubers I watch have great tutorials on sewing and it's given me the bug to unpack the sewing machine and actually make up a simple dress. For economy purposes, I'm using a cheap craft fabric that I picked up on sale years ago.
I like that it's cotton though, as I think it will be light and cool as the last hot days of Summer stretch into Autumn, here in Melbourne. But my northern hemisphere friends are eagerly awaiting the warmer days of Spring to arrive. I can imaging wearing this romantic dress to pick the first blooms of the season with a basket slung over my arm and a pretty shade hat to guard my complexion.
The first step is to wash, dry and iron the fabric. Cotton is likely to shrink, so make sure this has happened before cutting out the fabric.
Cut out the pattern using a loose fitting dress that only has four seams, the shoulders and side seams. Fold the dress in half with the back facing out. Place the fold on the fold of the fabric. Cut around it leaving a 1cm seam allowance. Add 4 cm to the bottom for hemming. I didn't because I wanted the new dress to be shorter.
Next, fold the dress in half with the front facing out so the v neckline is visible. Place that on the fold of another piece of fabric and tuck the back under at the neckline, revealing the v. Cut around leaving a 1cm seam allowance all around.
If you want the dress to be longer or shorter simply add or subtract that amount when cutting out. If a shorter dress is desired fold the bottom up to where you want it. A tip is to put it on and insert a pin where you want the hem to be.
Because I had a stain on my fabric I decided to add pockets so had to make sure it would sit under a pocket placement before cutting it out.
To make the pockets, measure a square by eye and cut it on the fold so that makes a rectangle. Turn it wrong sides out and stitch around leaving a gap to turn it out. Sew straight stitch about an inch from the fold. This will be the top of the pocket. The double layer of fabric will give it added structure and strengthen it. Last I sewed on a lace embellishment with zig zag stitch. Top stitched the pockets into place on the front panel. I sewed the pockets to the front before sewing up the seams because it was easiest that way.
Also on the front panel I hand stitched a gathering thread under the bust and pulled it in. I sewed a thick panel of lace over it. However, when I tried it on after the dress was made up, it wasn't gathered enough so I put it on the sewing machine and bunched the lace up as I sewed straight stitch at the top and bottom of the lace panel. This gave it the look I was after. You could instead treat the front the same way as the back, sewing a length of elastic on the wrong side, if you don't want lace. Instructions are following.
I sewed a piece of elastic to the back panel to pull it in like the original dress does which gives the dress shape. Work out where to place the start of the elastic by stretching it out and centering it over the back panel. Keep holding the left edge in place and let go of the other end. Pin the left edge to the fabric. This is where you'll begin stitching.
Start sewing the elastic and then stretch it as you sew to create the gathers.
Sewing the front and back panels together can be done in any order but I like to sew the same direction for each seam. Start under the armhole and stitch down to the hem. I don't flick it over and sew up, but start at the other arm hole and sew down so that the dress falls evenly. I used quilting clips to hold the seams together until they were sewn but pins work great too.
As this is a pull over your head style of dress you don't have to worry about buttons or zips however I did add lace for interest and to bind the neckline. I sewed the lace to the wrong side and flipped it over to the right side and top stitched it down. You could sew it to the right side and fold it inward and stitch if you don't want lace to show or use bias binding.
I hemmed the dress turning it over about 2cm and then another 2cm and stitching it down on the machine using straight stitch. The arm holes were hemmed the same way but turning it over half a cm twice and stitching down.
After trying it on it felt too plain at the hem and too long, so I added interest by sewing two bands of folded over fabric, parallel with the hemline. I made them the about the same width as the hem and the top stitching on the pocket so that elements were repeated and made the design cohesive.
Here's the finished dress. I added lace because felt the all over small print needed something to lift it. I also like to accessorize with a strand of pearls.
I've worn this dress quite a bit since I made it a couple of weeks ago. It's so comfortable and roomy. Being cotton, it's cool and breathes in the hot weather. Anyone could make a version of this dress, the lace could be left off. It would be beautiful with a matching bias binding around the neck and sleeves.
Because you make it from a dress you already own, it will fit any size. Use a shift or caftan style dress already in your wardrobe that you can pull on over your head. If you'd like it more fitted, elastic can be added all the way around under the bust line or at the waistline, whichever suits you best. The hemline detail required measuring and careful pinning to keep the lines accurate but this feature and for that matter, the lace wouldn't be needed on a larger print.
A short stint working in the office of a fashion house was part of the inspiration for the book I have recently finished revising. Ruby is a fashion designer and, like me, grew up making her own clothes. I hope to have her story for sale this year.
If you haven't read the Katrina or Natalie's stories you can find them here.
Heart melting, passionate romance.
My current work in progress is set in the music industry. It's a story that is partly inspired by my time working in administration for a rock music venue. I met some famous people, which was wonderful but most interesting was learning what when on behind the glamour. I've always loved being where music is playing, so it seemed a good fit when I was invited to work there.
I'm not surprised that I was drawn to work in the music industry, having grown up with music playing much of the time. Besides my father playing classical records on Sunday mornings, my older sister played records like the Bee Gees and the Beatles every day. But live music was also a huge part of my early life, performed by friends and family on our heirloom piano in our modest lounge room.
I can still smell the Mr Sheen as I polished my great grandmother’s piano. The carved scrolls enchanted me with their fairyland quality, as I revealed warm glossy hued timber swirls from beneath their coat of dust. For me it was the magical center of our house. Not only did it look majestic and beautiful, from it came sounds that transported me to another world.
Aunty Bev, Dad's sister, played by ear. She would say, "Sing the tune for me," and then she could play it straight away. Family gatherings were common, a highlight would be when she'd sit at the piano and begin playing the songs we all loved. Her brothers would gather around with their wives and all my cousins and we'd sing together. I was aware of belonging to a warm and loving family and felt happy, oh so happy.
I also loved it when my sister played for me. Mostly she had to practice her lessons but sometimes she play for fun and I’d sing along standing next to her. I wanted to learn but couldn’t make my hands work independently of each other. I learned guitar instead and could play and sing as often as I wanted.
As time went by, I developed thick calluses on the end of my fingers from playing so much, but I didn’t mind. I did very well at playing beginner chords and even achieved a first place certificate for best in the class. However as soon as I needed to play the more advanced bar chords it got too hard for me. My wrists weren’t strong and they didn’t toughen up. But I continued to play adapting songs and fudging the chords a bit. I enjoy the guitar sound so much, because like the piano, it is the strings vibrating that makes the sound.
Dad’s best friend loved creating beauty around him, gardening and painting, but particularly music. He was a concert pianist during the second world war and played many famous classical pieces on that old piano in our lounge room. His music somehow became a part of my soul. I can recall, all these years later, how it felt, how it sounded as if it were yesterday.
I’d stand at the end of the keyboard and watch his fingers move incredibly fast across the ebony and ivory. How was he able to strike so many correct notes in perfectly timed succession? The sound waves vibrated inside my lungs as I breathed the music in, closing my eyes. I’d think only of the sound and let it become a tangible living thing inside, transporting me to another dimension where only beauty exists.
I hear those tunes now when my father plays his recordings, and it uplifts me as only something loved and familiar from childhood can do. It can’t be the same experience I had as small child, standing beside Uncle Keith, with the sound waves of uplifting beauty reverberating through my body and flooding my senses. But music still transports me to a world of magic and beauty.
I'm so fortunate to have had that experience at a young age, and while we lacked some things, in regards to music our family had an abundance. It had a healing effect, soothing worries away and bringing joy. In the novel I'm currently writing, music is the hero. Helping to bring a woman home to where she remembers the joy music brought her in childhood and into the arms of a Country/Rock-star that needs her to love him.
While I write I'm drawing on the memories of my child self, listening in wonder to the magic of music and the strong family connection it holds for me.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, recusing roses and planting new ones.