‘Something to remember me by’, whispered my holiday to my purse… and “poof” – it sprang open!


Have you just finished your first week back at work? Or are you starting back on Monday?  It’s around this time, a large portion of the population packs up their holiday gear and heads home – holidays over for another year. Ahhh…. I can hear a huge collective sigh as we fold up the beach towels and shake the sand out of our hair. Forget those sleep-ins and hours basking in the sun – time to grab that briefcase and toe the line.

Like you, I have to put my head down and bottom up, if I’m going to make a fist of this blogging caper. My holiday is over now too. No mid-week coffees or lunches with pals, so don’t even phone me okay? But I do have one last holiday story I want to share with you.   There is a treasure I will be wearing around my neck as I tap away at my laptop. It’s a special necklace that I SHOULD NOT have bought (but did!!) and I am now going to offer a perfectly acceptable rationale as to how it came to be a part of my life.

Allison Heyes

Alison Heyes


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, several girlfriends happened to be in Lorne at the same time as us, and one night Allison (we call her Al…) organised a gathering at her family home, high up in the hills. She wasn’t just being hospitable. This was a business evening. Al used to be a schoolteacher. Now she designs and sells jewellery. After twenty years in the teaching game, she and a girlfriend, Sue, decided they needed a change and set up the Missie line of accessories.


And how could you say ‘No’ to a party that offers the best view in Lorne? Check this out.

Party with a view - Lorne

Party with a view – Lorne

Not bad, huh? And the jewellery, clothes and accessories Al sells are quite special. Not that cheap, landfill crap you buy at chain stores – rather, serious silver and gold pieces that are built to last. Likewise, all the handbags are made from beautiful quality leather.

When they set up the Missie business more than five years ago, Al and Sue flew to Hong Kong to meet with a family friend who had ran a diamond and pearl company. He gave them some expert advice on how to get started. Now they sell on-line, as well as stocking boutiques across Australia. Occasionally, they also hold jewellery parties like this one that I attended last week.

Al says the best part about the Missie range is that it appeals to all age ranges. ‘We pride ourselves on being able to match a piece of jewellery to anybody. It’s upmarket, but in a very good price range. We have some bracelets that sell from $20, and our most expensive piece is $250,’ she said.

Here’s just some of what Al had on display when she invited me and about twenty other women to visit, have a wine or two and try on her wares.

A table of treasure

A table of treasure

Pretty in pink

Pretty in pink – long pink coin necklace $80


Silver cross bracelet - $150

Silver cross bracelet – $150


Green cluster necklace $65

Green cluster necklace $65 (Also comes in pink or black)






Bone cross $80

Bone cross $80




Genuine pearl necklace  or bracelet - large $190

Genuine pearl necklace or bracelet – large $190









It was very clever of Al to rope hubby Michael in, to help serve drinks. And a fine job he did too. Always with a broad smile and a full bottle on hand, like a boy in a candy store – being the only bloke among the chicks. It’s amazing how much more open one feels about spending after a glass of wine. Or two.

Michael the diligent waiter

Michael the diligent waiter

Silver disc necklace - $220

Silver disc necklace – $220


There was one particular necklace that caught my eye – sparkling in the sunlight. Al’s business partner, Sue, was wearing it with a simple black shift dress and the combination worked a treat. I enquired about the price and yes, of course, I had picked the second most expensive piece in the range! The most expensive is a gold cuff that sells for $250.



Summer dresses - patterned $90, Plain $80.

Summer dresses – patterned $90, Plain $80.


The dresses are fun and floaty – perfect for summer. The shift worn by Sue comes in a range of colours and is perfect for dressing UP at a party or DOWN at the beach.



Al and girlfriends

Al Heyes and girlfriends


By the end of the evening, the patterned dress was proving popular, snapped up and worn on the spot by several guests – probably because Al proved such an excellent model.



Grey zip bag - $180

Grey zip bag – $180


Then I spied the handbags… A denim suede number was begging me to buy it, but I had to consider the silver necklace. At $180, I couldn’t buy both. Love the zips, and that colour would work with just about anything… hmmm, what to do?


I went back to the necklaces to reconsider. Emma tried on a lovely silver ball necklet that was another option worth considering… and more economical.

Silver ball necklace $60

Silver ball necklace – $60

Other silver options: Multi-heart strand $220 or a single heart, $210

Other silver options: Multi-heart strand $220 or a single heart, $210







And THEN I spied one of the most original handbags I’d ever come across! Check this out. An evening bag that doubles as a bracelet accessory. The bangles are solid silver and it hangs from the wrist, meaning you don’t have to do that awkward juggle at a cocktail party, trying to balance a champagne glass and clutch bag while grabbing at finger food. How inventive! AND just the right size. I was sold. But I opted for black – thought it would be more versatile, although the silver was tempting…

Bracelet bag - $90

Bracelet bag – $90

Bracelet bag in silver - $90

Bracelet bag in silver – $90









By the end of the evening, I was obsessed with practically every item Al was selling, but I knew I had to make a choice. It would be rude to turn up, drink her wine and leave after only buying one teeny, weenie handbag, wouldn’t it? I should at least buy ONE more piece. The chatter and laughter among the women was reaching fever pitch, as more and more pieces started disappearing, being sold fast. All I wanted was to take home that silver necklace with the discs sparkling in the evening sunlight… How to justify buying a bracelet bag AND a necklace? Ah ha! The answer sprang to mind like the popping of a champagne cork. I had enjoyed SUCH a wonderful holiday at Lorne, I needed something to remember this perfect holiday by. Surely that was a good enough reason?

My new necklace

My new necklace


I peered at the necklace ONE MORE TIME through the wine glasses and knew it had to be mine. SOLD. And that is the story of how I came to own a beautiful new silver necklace as a memory of a very special holiday in Lorne. Justification, ladies. Works every time.




If you’d like to check out more of the Missie Jewellery range, or to book your own jewellery party, go to http://missie.com.au



Why my husband goes missing for hours on end…

Some women might get suspicious. Imagine the scenario. You’re on holidays with your husband and then suddenly he disappears for hours on end – mostly unable to be contacted. This happens again and again. Mostly in the evenings and sometimes you wake in the mornings, and he’s no longer in bed. Vanished again, for God knows how long…

Me though, by now I’m pretty used to it. And there IS a reasonable explanation.

Actor Benji McNair who played Mal Kennedy on Neighbours

Actor Benji McNair who played Mal Kennedy on Neighbours

Fletch has long held a passion for photography. In fact, some of you may not know it, but well before and during the first few years of working on Neighbours, Fletch also worked as a professional photographer, taking head-shots of other actors.

In fact, when I was writing for newspapers but wanted to break into the world of electronic media, I booked in with Fletch to take a headshot of me. This was before we’d even started dating.  Funnily enough, we never did THAT photo shoot as a newspaper photographer I worked with kindly offered to take my headshot for free, so I cancelled my session with Fletch – not knowing that in the future we would end up married.


Sunrise on the top of Mt Batur, Bali

– Sunrise on the top of Mt Batur, Bali – 1989

Then, after dating for more than a year, we planned our first overseas trip and went to Bali for three weeks. Little did I know that Fletch had decided if we could also travel well together, he’d propose. I think he wanted to test me for patience too. Patience with putting up with his need to pull over the car at any moment to set up his photography gear to take shots. That took FOREVER. Like when we climbed to the top of Mount Batur for a sunrise shot about twenty-three years ago… I didn’t mind that so much. It was the daggy mustard-coloured photography vest he wore that drove me insane. I hated it. Threatened to throw it out several times but he’s still hoarding it. Ewww….


These days, it would take a lot to get me out of bed at FIVE AM. I’d usually say the same for Fletch, but on holidays, he’s as keen as ever to conquer new photography heights.

Here in Lorne, I must admit he’s taken some beauties. This is my favourite so far:

Lorne sunset 2013

Lorne sunset 2013

Then there’s a sunrise…

Lorne sunrise 2013

Lorne sunrise 2013

And a stunning snap of the Cora Lynn Cascades.

Cora Lynn Cascades

Cora Lynn Cascades


Just for fun, I thought I’d tape a quick interview with Fletch. In all our years together, I’ve never interviewed my own husband. The concept amused me. Here’s how it went:

Jen: So what do you love about photography?
Fletch: I love many things about photography.

Jen: But what keeps your out there for hour after hour? Don’t you get bored?
Fletch: No, because particularly with nature photography, you’re communing with nature and connecting with nature as well. You’re not taking photos the whole time. Often you’re just absorbing the scene and working at how you feel about it.

Jen: But for hours and hour and hours?
Fletch: Yes, it can take hours and  hours and hours because sometimes the sun is at the wrong angle and you have to wait for it to change. or someone arrives and puts their body in the scene and you have to wait for them to leave, or you have to experiment with different filters and exposures. And of course you need to wander around and play with your compositions as well.

Jen: And it’s also weather dependent…
Fletch: It’s extremely weather dependent. It requires a lot of patience.

Jen: And as you said people can get in the way, like when we were at Erskine Falls yesterday and you needed the platform to be completely still and tourists kept jumping on it. That must be so irritating. Did you want to hit them?
Fletch: No. Everyone is entitled to go to these beautiful places. The idea is to go to these beautiful places when not so many people are there.

Jen: Are you going to have an exhibition of your works?
Fletch: I’m not planning one.

The photographer at work.

The photographer at work.


Jen: Well what’s the point in taking so many thousands of photos?
Fletch: Well, you can develop a reputation as a photographer commercially without having exhibitions. And there’s a deeper satisfaction. It’s like fishing. Some people fish just for the thrill of the catch and then thrown the fish back while others make a living out of it. I’m more like the fisherman who throws the fish back. I do it for the love of it.



Jen: Do you think you might one day be better known as a photographer than an actor?
Fletch: Yes, that’s possible because people have very short memories. As an actor I’ll probably fade away quite quickly.

Jen: Rubbish. Dr Karl will never be forgotten.
Fletch: Perhaps. (laughs)

Jen: Where’s the reward with the photography then? Is it when you get that zinger shot?
Fletch: Of course.It’s exactly the same as for a writer.

Jen: So self-satisfaction is all you need?
Fletch: There’s all sorts of satisfaction. There’s commercial satisfaction when someone buys what you’ve written, but there’s also the pure joy of creating something yourself. Like for an artist – a pure piece of pottery or jewellery. For me, it’s a photograph that is purely my interpretation of a moment in time that contains your heart and soul.

Jen: Maybe you could ask the story-liners to write photography into the Neighbours scripts – that Dr Karl becomes a photographer and then you could show off your real photos on Neighbours and also become well known as a photographer?
Fletch: That sounds a  little manipulative to me. I’m already doing music on Neighbours.

Jen: Yeah, you’re right. Maybe I should take up photography too, so we could see more of each other?
Fletch: That would be a good idea. Photography and golf.
Jen: That might be a bit much.

Well let’s see if I have any natural talent. Here’s two shots of the same scene – one by Fletch and one by me. Guess who took which shot?

Erskine Falls (2)

Erskine Falls (2)

Erskine Falls (1)

Erskine Falls (1)



Yep, I bet you picked it. Fletch’s shot is the winner on the right. Guess I’ll stick to writing. And ask him sweetly when I need new photos for the Blog.




OH NO – A Hiccup in the Sugar-Free Mission….

Apologies folks, It’s only Day Four of my ONE LINE RULE challenge, and already I’ve broken one of my own guidelines. I haven’t strayed from the ONE LINE RULE when it comes to food – just drinking… But I have a fabulous justification. Really, I do!

I blame my girlfriends. Because of them and their persuasive ways yesterday, I’m not going to be able to meet my three alcohol-free-days quota this week.

It started out as a simple beach outing. There we were – sitting on the sand, happily enjoying each other’s company and keeping an eye on the kids splashing in the surf. We chatted about the perfect weather (unlike today’s stinker which has forced most on us indoors) and how wonderful it was that all four of us could be in the same holiday spot at the same time.

Lorne beach yesterday

Lorne beach yesterday

But after that, the wine came out. Now, of course I could have said ‘NO’. And I did. Well, for the first half hour at least… But then the questions began. ‘Oh come on, Jen, you’re on HOLIDAYS! Can’t you have ONE drink?’ ‘You’re being too hard on yourself, aren’t you?’ ‘Isn’t it more important to have a great time with your friends than sit there and be a wowser?’ It didn’t take long to twist my arm… Because, quite frankly, I can’t imagine another time when all four of us will be in such a magical spot at the same time and it’s not so much that I needed the wine, but didn’t want to spoilt the moment by that even being an issue. As one of the girls said, it’s always best to bend the rules on holidays, have fun and get back on track when you’re home.

Lorne Ice-creamery

Lorne Ice-creamery

So here’s the revised game plan while in Lorne. To stick to the ONE LINE RULE and continue with the sugar-free diet – which means not eating anything with more than 5% sugar content. No lollies, cakes, ice-cream, pancakes, biscuits etc… and worry about that drinking rule when I’m back in Melbourne. Oh and dinner last night was grilled fish and a handful of potato chips. That’s all.


Some people have raised the question – why try the ONE LINE RULE diet and profess to be sugar free if you’re still drinking wine? For me, after giving up smoking last year, I know that facing TOO much deprivation will only lead to failure. This is a good start. I know that if I raise the bar TOO high, I’ll crash and feel defeated. One step at a time.

I paid my penance this morning though, stepping out early with Fletch for an hour’s bush walking before breakfast. A quick cafe latte on the way home, then here’s how today’s ONE LINE RULE diet worked:

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam


Breakfast: One poached egg on toast with butter. I was craving my usual strawberry jam on toast but guess what? That’s SIXTY-FIVE PER CENT sugar!

Snack: I small tub Yoplait Classic Cheesecake flavoured yoghhurt – 4.6% sugar




It's a tuna wrap… with a BEYOND Coconut Water

It’s a tuna wrap… with a BEYOND Coconut Water

Lunch: I impressed myself by making a wholemeal tuna wrap with a spoonful of hommous, tabouli, and chopped tomato.

Wholemeal Wattle Valley wrap – 1.8% sugar; Black Swan Skinny Hommus – 1.2% sugar: Sirena basil infused tuna – 0% sugar and Beyond Coconut Water – 3.6% sugar. The coconut water is a great alternative to soft drink and has wonderful rehydrating properties for a scorching hot day like today!


Cruskit and Lite cream cheese

Cruskit and light cream cheese


Snack: A Cruskit smeared with smoked salmon.

Arnott’s Original Cruskit – 3.6% sugar; Philadelphia light cream cheese, smoked salmon flavour – 4.6% sugar.



The dinner report, as per usual, will be filed tomorrow. In this heat, all I want is a fresh green salad… Oh, and maybe one glass of chardonnay?









Sugar-free food update – a surprise revelation!

DAY TWO of the sugar-free ONE LINE RULE diet, and I’m doing okay. Just to recap, if you’re not up to speed with this challenge – the idea is to only eat food that contains less than 5 % sugar. So it means checking the nutrition labels on all food packaging and only eating that which meets the criteria. Once you start checking the labels on processed foods, you’ll be amazed at how much sugar is out there!

Here’s how today panned out, including one very surprising revelation!

Uncle Toby's Antioxidant cereal

Uncle Toby’s Antioxidant cereal


Breakfast: The Muesli (97% sugar free) with half a cup of skim milk, two dollops of Gippsland Organic Natural Yoghurt and a dozen fresh raspberries. I’m allowed one serving of fresh fruit per day, so my raspberry intake was equivalent to half a piece of fruit.

Sadly, I can no longer enjoy my favoured Uncle Toby’s Anti-Oxidant cereal as it’s packed with TWENTY-TWO per cent sugar!!!

Morning Snack – Handful of raw pistachio nuts


Drive down to Lorne – I did well, drinking only water and keeping the mouth busy with sugar-free gum. We stopped along the way for Tom to buy a home-made bakery meat pie. I resisted, but the mouth-watering aroma in the car as we continued along our way had me breaking out in a cold sweat. Now I might have been able to eat that meat pie, but the bakery staff couldn’t assure me of the sugar content, so sorry, that means the pie gets a big fat cross. Who knows what sugar content was in the pastry or the sauce? Unlikely to be more than five per cent, but you never know…

Sambel Olek

Sambel Olek


I waited till we unpacked and then had a can of tuna – and you must buy SIrena – so much nicer than other brands (I usually opt for the basil infused flavour) – and a couple of Cruskits.(3.4% sugar)  In the past, I’ve also added a dollop of my favourite Sweet Chilli sauce, but after discovering it’s full of more than FORTY PER CENT sugar, I’ve had to find an alternative. And here it is! Sambel Olek is fantastic for those of us who love a bit of spice in our food – a great chilli flavour and ZERO sugar content – YIPPEE!!!



Afternoon tea – half a cup of blueberries

Dinner – Now we’re on holidays in Lorne, it’s going to be tricky to stick to the three alcohol-free days a week rule, but I’m going to give it a shot. Tom and I had dinner at Kosta’s Greek restaurant in Lorne tonight and the food was sensational. My grilled barramundi was top class and Tom’s lamb souvlaki was superb. Guess what I drank? WATER!!! Yes, water – can you believe that? Damn, a chardonnay would have been great with the fish, but I did it…

Kostas Restaurant - Lorne

Kostas Restaurant – Lorne

My surprise revelation today came from two readers who commented on yesterday’s blog (thank you ladies!) who reminded me to check the sugar content of the milk I use.

MILK? Are you kidding?

Seriously, I must be dumb but I’d never even considered milk having ANY sugar content – but yep, you check out your brand. Some low-fat varieties are actually MORE THAN five per cent sugar!! Thankfully our brand is spot on five per cent, so I could breathe a sigh of relief, but it’s definitely a fact worth taking on board for those of you who are also keen to stick to the ONE LINE RULE.

Milk – who’d have thought ???