Monthly Archives: March 2014

Is travelling with a baby difficult? Not necessarily…

We’d planned our trip to Singapore while I was pregnant with Prince G. It was to coincide with my last month of maternity leave and give us the chance to visit Bill’s uncle and aunt.

Some thought we were crazy for even considering it.

‘An overseas holiday with a 6 month old baby? Don’t be ridiculous.’

‘Don’t go booking anything yet. You don’t know what type of baby you’re going to have!’

‘He’ll probably be teething and ruin every minute you have…’

But we did it anyway. And you know what? It was better than expected. In fact, it was almost easier than traveling without a baby. Let me list a few of the privileges we experienced when we had baby Prince G in tow.

Queue-jumping at the airport

Passport control at Sydney International Airport is a zoo. There are usually always massive queues that snake ten rows deep at passport control.

Bill and I weren’t in a rush. We’d left plenty of time and although I had Prince G strapped to my chest in the baby carrier, he was happy enough staring at all the strange faces passing by.

A couple behind us were hopping from foot to foot impatiently. The woman, between bites of her nails, was telling her husband repeatedly that their plane was due to leave in half an hour. At a turn in the queue, I waved them ahead of us and they thanked us gratefully.

A few minutes later, a security guard pulled us out of the queue and sent us directly to an empty passport check desk. ‘Can’t have the baby waiting,’ he said.

Once through the checkpoint and amongst the perfumes and spirits of Duty Free, I turned and saw the frantic couple, still in the queue not far from where I’d let them in.

Oops! They should’ve brought a baby.

Travelling with a baby is like a walk in the park (image by Jessie Ansons)

Travelling with a baby is a walk in the park (image by Jessie Ansons)

VIP check-in at the hotel

We stayed three nights with Bill’s uncle and three nights at the Marina Bay Sands. The hotel is monstrous; the hotel foyer is a cavernous space full of people scurrying about.

So many people stay at the hotel each day that they have crowd-control ropes at the check-in desk to manage queues. However, with Prince G in the stroller we had barely joined the queue before we were whisked away to the VIP check-in room hidden behind the main desk.

I didn’t know that rooms like this existed! This magical world was like a top-notch airport club lounge. There were snacks and drinks, soft lounges and magazines. You sat down to check-in. The room had no one else in it expect for a businessman who looked like he was rich enough to belong there. We on the other hand, in our jeans and boardshorts with an $80 stroller from Mustafa’s certainly didn’t belong.

Marina Bay Sands gets brilliant online reviews. It’s the one with the Infinity Pool 50 storeys above the city. There’s only one main thing people complain about: the time it takes to check in.

Oops! They should’ve brought a baby.

A special exit ramp at the Tea Shoppe

We had afternoon tea at this fancy tea house that served over 1000 different types of tea. The café seating area was raised, so Bill and I quickly lifted the stroller up and climbed the stairs.

When it was time to go, we bent down to lift the stroller once more. The head waiter immediately appeared and said ‘Oh you mustn’t!’ before ushering us around a corner to a ramp that was cordoned off by a velvet rope. He unclipped the rope and, feeling like no less than the royal family themselves, we walked down the ramp.

Everyone else had to use the stairs. Even the man with a limp and the elderly couple who shuffled their feet along the ground.

Oops! Well, they should’ve brought a baby.


In Singapore, we felt like royalty at every turn. With Prince G on board, in the baby carrier or the stroller, it was as if the sea parted around us. People would hold lift doors, let us go first and stop to say hello to Prince G, even when every other part of the bustling city seemed to moving at great speed. A couple of times strangers took photos of him just because ‘he’s so cute!’

Well, who am I to argue?

When we were first off the plane back in Sydney and first in line at passport control I turned to Bill and said, ‘We should have had a baby sooner!’

He nodded, in one of those rare moments where we actually agree, ‘Or at least borrowed one for travelling…’


Filed under BLOG: The Duchess of Charlestown

Starting the climb (Friday Fictioneers)

Image by John Nixon at

Image by John Nixon at

‘Hurry, scurry!’ she says impatiently.

Her toes grip either side of the trunk and she pulls up onto the next branch.

She’ll say that to me one hundred and fifty-three times. As we ride our bikes along the pier in the rain, as I clamber through her window on a warm Tuesday night, as I leaf through the menu at La Petite Castille, as I muddle my words down on one shaky knee, as I work out the meaning of two lines versus one.

‘Hurry, scurry!’

But for now, she simply wants me to climb the tree.


Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochout elle Fields where writers around the world create 100 word stories inspired by the one image. For more information see:


Want to read more from Jessie Ansons? Check my post on the search for the perfect Una-don called It’s a moray: My love for Japanese eel.


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One tiny window (Friday Fictioneers)

Front door battered and scratched. Lift the lock while you turn the key. Great location.

Up a flight of stairs. Along a dark narrow corridor. Up a steep wooden ladder.

This was the room for rent.

Small. With one tiny window overlooking the Plaza de la Merced. A bed, a desk and a chest of drawers.


Stairs. Corridor. Ladder. One way in.

Later that night they finally found her. Looked like she’d been trying to push her blackened body through that one tiny window.

Great location. Views of the Plaza. One way in.

One way out.


Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochelle Fields where writers around the world create 100 word stories inspired by the one image. For more information see:


Want to read more from Jessie Ansons? Check out my recent blog post called: Why living with a brainiac is annoying.


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Field of Flowers Award

I was thrilled to find that Karen Whitelaw nominated my blog for this award. Karen teaches creative writing classes at our local community-based education centre and I enrolled in one of these classes a couple of years ago. At the time, I didn’t realise how much Karen’s guidance would forever change the way I looked at my writing. It was Karen who motivated me to take my writing seriously and make it a regular part of my life.

Karen blogs at ‘The Writers’ life’ at The placement of the apostrophe in her blog’s title says it all: Karen doesn’t see herself as one solitary writer, but part of a community of writers who can all benefit from discussing, critiquing and sharing knowledge about all things related to writing. I would highly recommend you follow her blog to discover how writing is much more than just words on a page.

I’ve nominated 7 blogs below that I personally enjoy and make sure I read every post that comes through.



Other Side of the Sun shares what it’s like to be a Spaniard in Australia with a strong passionate voice and entertaining comparisons. Her Spanish background and proud connection to my home town (Newcastle, NSW) shine through in every post. The name of her blog is brilliant and reflects what it’s like to move to the other side of the world to a place that is so different yet so similar to her home town.


I discovered Rochelle’s blog when participating for the first time in Friday Fictioneers. Rochelle works tirelessly each week to initiate and manage FF, allowing hundreds of writers around the world to be inspired by one photograph and write a 100 word story for others to enjoy. It’s a fun, achievable project to keep you writing each week and is VERY addictive!


Ian McHugh is a sci-fi and fantasy writer with a blog that covers all things writing. It’s a good looking, well-designed blog, and true to his genre, there’s a hint of sci-fi in every post. His posts make me think about aspects of writing I’ve never considered before.


The Open Suitcase has helpful snippets about everything to do with travel, from family tales on the west coast to what to pack in a toiletries bag. She has even inspired me to dust off my first draft USA travel novel and start reviewing! The blog is nicely laid-out and you can tell the author is a genuinely lovely person who cares about her readers.


101 books is an awesome blog where the author has set himself the challenge of reading Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels since 1923 (plus Ulysses). He has read almost 70 books so far and ranks them on his blog. He also gets deep into the characters and the stories, writing quite humorous posts such as which characters he would like to have a beer with and why.


With its catchy title, High Five and Raspberries is a sweet blog that showcases the author’s love of writing through gentle, poetic pieces. She commits herself to a number of weekly writing challenges and doesn’t miss a beat. Hats off to her dedication!


Momdeavor is a new blog started in February 2013 and looks like it’s really taken off with regular posts and regular readers. The author is honest and consistent and comes across as a truly caring and enlightened person willing to share her positive outlook with others. Oh, and did I mention she’s a mother of 9 kids?

I hope the 7 nominees will accept this award. It’s a small thank you and an acknowledgement for the pleasure your blogs give me and, I’ve no doubt, many other readers.

All awards come with conditions with which to comply.

Rules of “A Field of Flowers” Award

▪ Thank the blogger who nominated you
▪ Place the award on your blog
▪ Nominate 7 other bloggers and write a little something about why you would give these bloggers “A Field Of Flowers”
▪ Let your nominees know that you nominated them


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Why living with a brainiac is annoying


Brains are so annoying
Image by Steve and Shanon Lawson at

Bill knows a lot of stuff.

You might say it’s a good thing to have a husband that knows so much, but sometimes it’s just plain annoying. You see, it’s really hard to talk to him about anything without him saying ‘I already knew that’…

So I was pretty excited the other day when I found out something about Newcastle’s history that he wouldn’t know. I was with my mum and Prince G at the Lovett Gallery seeing the she: true stories exhibition. It’s a collection of ordinary women sharing extraordinary stories, including a story from fellow blogger Elena Terol Sabino about her mother. In the adjacent room was another exhibition called The Mystery of the Canoe Pool. I would have ignored it, but Mum was attracted to the old photographs and wandered in there so I had no choice but to follow with the pram.

For those who know Newcastle, the Canoe Pool is the round shallow ocean pool next to Newcastle Ocean Baths. Its the one where the kiddies play in the sand with their buckets and spades. It also has a fascinating history.

The pool was opened in 1937 and contained a concrete map of the world where children could both play and learn about geography. Unlike traditional maps, this one had Australia in the centre, with the other countries of the world around it. Children could ride little canoes around the outside. Over time, the map wore away and they eventually removed it. Today, you wouldn’t know anything like that ever existed and the pool has nothing but a shallow sandy shore.

I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Bill about this piece of history.

You see, moments like this are few and far between. Often I’m excited about an unusual new fact, only to find out that Bill has somehow already known about it for weeks. Or, something I find absolutely extraordinary will not surprise him at all.

Like today as an example: I was reading the Open Road magazine and there was a photo of these airbags that they now have on Volvo cars that pop out of bonnet and cover the windscreen. I showed the photo to Bill and he stated matter-of-factly that they were probably for when you hit pedestrians.

‘Pffft!’ I said. ‘They wouldn’t go to all that trouble just for pedestrians!’

So I Googled it. And guess what? Yes, they are for pedestrians.

But it gets worse.

When I was reading about these pedestrian airbags on, I came across some other interesting facts.

‘Wow! Guess what percentage of road fatalities are pedestrians?’ I asked Bill. The article said 13% was the current rate, which had dropped from 20% in 2009. I thought 13% was still surprisingly high!

’15?’ he said, shrugging his shoulders.

See how annoying it can be?

‘No, 13. But you were really close.’

‘I was going to say 13, but I thought I’d round it up.’

Of course he did.

I read on.

‘Oh my God!’ I said. ‘Guess how much it costs to replace one of these pedestrian airbags once they’ve popped?’

‘I dunno. Maybe $3000.’

I felt like throwing the magazine at his face. He’d picked it. Exactly to the cent.

Sometimes I think he’s psychic or something.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait to get home from the Lovett Gallery the other day to tell him about the Canoe Pool. As I burst through the front door, a sleepy Prince G perched on my hip, I said:

‘Guess what I discovered today?’


‘You know that big round pool near the ocean baths where the kiddies play with their buckets and spades?’

Bill twisted his mouth thouthfully before replying:

‘You mean the one that used to have that map of the world in it?’


Filed under BLOG: The Duchess of Charlestown

The one-way walk (Friday Fictioneers)


Image by Adam Ickes at

Click-a-clack. Click-a-clack. Click-a-clack.

That’s the sound 3-inch stiletto heels make on a boardwalk.


Her body is hidden under the loose pants and man’s jacket. From a distance you wouldn’t know she’d dressed up.

Click-a-clack. Click-a-clack.

But he always had a thing for heels.

Click-a-clack. Click-

She stops at the end of the boardwalk and peers over the edge.



That’s the sound 3-inch stiletto heels make when dropped into water.

Her face is covered by sunglasses. From a distance you wouldn’t know she’d been crying.

Silently, she turns and walks back to the shore.


Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochelle Fields where writers around the world create 100 word stories inspired by the one image. For more information see:


Want to read more from Jessie Ansons? Check out my recent blog post about how my husband proposed: The greatest of all marriage proposals


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The greatest of all marriage proposals

Bill and I have travelled to some extraordinary places.

We had dinner in Bangkok in the rooftop restaurant of the Banyan Tree Hotel, above the noise and the smog of the city below, and ate at a table for two with white tablecloths.

We stood alone at the Byron Bay lighthouse at night and looked out into the dark blue sea from Australia’s most eastern point.

We climbed the Statue of Liberty and gazed back at the city of New York on a clear winter’s day, rugged up in scarves and jackets.


The perfect location for a romantic proposal (near Whistler, Canada).
Image by Derek Purdy at

And every one of those times I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Is he going to do it now?’

You see, when you’re approaching 30 and you’ve been with someone for almost a decade, you start to believe that a marriage proposal is lurking at every romantic destination. Excitement builds, you get sweaty palms, you have trouble breathing as you prepare the acceptance speech in your mind.

Then, at dinner, at the lighthouse, at the top of the statue’s staircase, Bill drops to one knee and…

Ties his shoelaces.

Picks up a $2 coin.

Takes a photo of New York from the lower perspective so he can ‘fit it all in’.

I would let out the breath I’d been holding all morning. Bill, oblivious to my expectations would make a random comment about the view.

Great. Yeah, I guess.

This was how it went a thousand times over. Even at dinner on our 10 year anniversary when I was certain a proposal would happen he didn’t even order dessert, claiming he was tired and felt like an early night.

So how did he do it in the end? How does a man top a thousand magical destinations and declare a lifelong commitment to his wife-to-be?

Sitting on the lounge at home in our pajamas watching Futurama on the TV, he whips the ring out of his pocket and says ‘I was wondering if you wanted to marry me?’


Filed under BLOG: The Duchess of Charlestown

A load of rubbish: teaching students respect (ABC Open 500 words)


How do you make high school students respect their school grounds?
Image by Simon Brass at

This is my March 2014 contribution to ABC Open 500 words (topic: CRINGE). Read about my leadership attempt in high school that (almost) achieved brilliant results.

Here’s the link:

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Mirrors – The Writing Workshop Anthology

My piece will be included in this anthology. And yes, I’m VERY excited. Looking forward to the launch!

The Writers' Life

Mirrors The Cover Mirrors
The Cover

Remember your first time?

The first time a piece of your writing was published? How your heart tap-danced on your ribs? How you wanted to stick your chest out proudly and at the same time hide under your bed?

Remember how it felt the second time? Or the third? Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been published I still feel that same ecstatic thrill.

It’s building up now that MIRRORS is ready to be launched. Times it by 8 other writers and that’s a lot of very excited authors.

Within the next few weeks the Writing Workshop anthology will be available on Amazon and we couldn’t be more thrilled. You just can’t see how excited because we’re under the bed.

Keep a watch for the final launch details here.


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Personal challenge: more than 30 engaging stories in 2014 (ABC Open 500 words)


How quickly do you write?
Image by Walt Stoneburner at

This is my February 2014 contribution to ABC Open 500 words (topic: PERSONAL CHALLENGE). I talk about my personal goal to write a blog piece every fortnight and submit to ABC Open every month in 2014.

Here’s the link:

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