Chin wag

I was looking ‘rough as guts’ after my morning session at the gym. It’s bad enough when you aren’t strong enough to put your ‘head in a pony’ but one glance in the mirror and I balked at the idea of heading back out. I ‘didn’t look like anything to write home about’ so wasn’t keen for a catch up over a coffee. The ladies are always so well groomed! Did I go? Betcha life I did. ‘Life’s too short’ and the weather was awesome. ‘Not too hot, not too cold, just right’! Better than hanging round at home.

So I’m headed down to the harbour with ‘a skip in my step’ and ‘happy as Larry’. I was about 20 minutes late but ‘better late than never’ as they say. When I ‘rocked up’ I was greeted with a sea of smiles. Now that really ‘blew me away’. I’m usually the first one there. It ‘never crossed my mind’ about what it looked like from the other side.

A cuppa coffee and a bit of a ‘chin wag’ and I soon forgot about my ‘manky’ hairdo. Instead I ‘squirmed in my seat’ ‘with my skin crawling’ as we spoke of escaped phythons, red belly black snakes, and funnel web spiders. All of these can be deadly and are Australian natives. I may be an Australian but spiders and snakes ‘really do my head in’.  

Well that’s my everyday adventure with a few sayings ‘thrown in just to mix it up a bit’.

  • Rough as guts – (Australian) Not well groomed. A bit rough looking
  • Head in a pony – Wear your hair in a ponytail
  • Didn’t look like anything to write home about – Nothing flash or noteworthy
  • Life’s too short – Life doesn’t last forever so enjoy it while you can
  • Not too hot, not too cold, just right – From Goldilocks and the 3 Bears fairy tale from 19th century England
  • Skip in your step – happy as I walk
  • Happy as Larry – (Australian) Happy – “Larry Foley, an undefeated Australian middleweight boxer in the 1890s”
  • Better late than never – You eventually got there
  • Rocked up – Arrived 
  • Blew me away – Surprised / Impressed / Did not expect
  • Never crossed my mind – Didn’t think of it
  • Chin wag – friendly talk in a relaxed way
  • Manky – not great, rotten, dirty (in this sentence I mean it was not great)
  • Squirming in my seat – Feeling uncomfortable
  • With my skin crawling – Feeling frightened in an uncomfortable
  • Really do my head in – Can’t cope with the thought of it
  • Betcha life I did – Bet your life I did – I certainly did
  • Thrown in just to mix it up a bit – Added for some variety

Don’t come the raw prawn with me

Today I wanted to be here ‘in case the sh*t hits the fan’. Mum had a fall today and was taken away in an ambulance. She should be in a nursing home they’ll say. Well ‘don’t come the raw prawn with me’ cause we all know she just ‘won’t cop that’!

That old chestnut

People hint to mum that she should think about going to a nursing home. I’m sure ‘that old chestnut’ will be ‘back on the cards again’. I know she ‘wouldn’t have a bar of it’. Thing is oldies sometimes have no say in it. That really ‘makes mum’s blood boil’. See mum is such a private person. She loves her garden and her own space. The whole idea of being in hospital just ‘does her head in’ let alone a nursing home. She’d be ‘out of there in a flash’ if she could.

Stick to your guns

I was hanging by the computer ‘playing the waiting game’. My ‘heart was in my mouth’ when a call ‘came out of nowhere’. It was a real ‘blessing in disguise’. A stranger calls. She shares of how her nan broke her hip in her 90’s and was sent home after she recovered from a hip replacement. Her nan was ‘happy as Larry’. This stranger says “make sure you tell your mum to ‘stick to her guns'”.

It’s been a while since I wrote a piece on phrases and idioms. I hope these ones help you in understanding this uncertain space. A space where the very thing that draws family together can also pull them apart. We all want what’s best for mum but we all have different opinions.


  • Be here in case the sh*t hits the fan – be close by in case something bad happens
  • Playing the waiting game – Not sure what to do so watch and wait
  • Heart in your mouth – Anxious
  • Came out of nowhere – Unexpected
  • Blessing in disguise – Something unexpected or unfortunate that results in something good happening
  • Does your head in – Makes you angry or frustrated
  • Out of there in a flash – Leave in a hurry
  • That old chestnut – Repeating the same old story so it becomes boring
  • Back on the cards – Discuss something that had been spoken of previously
  • Wouldn’t have a bar of it – (Australian saying) Won’t tolerate or put up with it
  • Make your blood boil – Make you very angry
  • Don’t come the raw prawn with me – (Australian saying) Don’t pretend you don’t know
  • Won’t cop that – Won’t take that. Not happy about that
  • Happy as Larry – (Australian saying) Very happy
  • Stick to your guns – Don’t give in

#Poetry – Barking Puppy

For dog lovers that might have a clue what to do. Can you save me cause I’m feeling blue.

My neighbours dog is small and yappy. He barks and barks I’m so not happy. In my apartment block of 84 I wish the owners would just shut the door.

I love the dogs in my pet friendly place. Most of them exist with oh such grace. Labs and Poodles, and cute Cavoodles, makes for a happy space.

Today I saw why puppy barks, he can see each dog as they go to the park. Is he jealous that they get out to play or just lonely cause mum and dad are away? 


My friends dogs were suffering from separation anxiety and would bark when they weren’t home. They had complaints from neighbours and the council. They ended up hiring a pet psychologist who provided them with some great strategies. It really worked. They even had a dog cam that would alert them when the dogs were barking. Some tips were to not get too emotional with them when you first get home from work. Don’t ‘gee them up’. How can we help my neighbours pooch be more settled?

Idiom or Phrase Meaning

  • Gee them up – This has originated in the horse racing circles. To urge forward and faster. In Australia you could use it to say something like “I was just trying to gee you up”. Meaning you wanted to see just how excited they would get. Gee-up originated from the U.K around the early 1700’s but can be tracked back to the 1500’s to Henry Gee. This is also where we get the word gee-gee’s from which means horse racing. Not sure when they added the word them to the phrase.

Have your cake and eat it too

Cake, it’s the perfect accompaniment for a great cup of coffee when your out and about. But you know what they say ‘you cant judge a book by its cover’. Not all coffee shops can ‘make the cut’. Their cakes and pastries look great in the display but how ripped off do you feel when you just used your lovely morning coffee to swill down that dry cardboard excuse for a cake.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Choose your poison
Cake is my poison. It’s delectable. You can drink your wine. I choose cake. No need for a hangover you just have it with a nice roasted coffee, sit back and enjoy the world go by.  If you can’t get great cake though it’s important to have a standby.

Standby cake
Standby cake is cake we cake connoisseurs kick back  on. When you know the cakes ‘don’t fit the bill’ standby cake is the answer. Its reliable and dependable and more importantly, edible. Still ‘it’s nothing to write home about’.

Will you have cake with that coffee maam? Sell me your cake and I’ll grab a coffee. Cake, it’s no afterthought. I want to have my cake and eat it too!

Idiom/phrase meaning

  • You can’t have your cake and eat it too – can’t have everything your own way
  • Make thecut – meet an expected standard
  • You can’t judge a book by its cover – just cause it looks good doesn’t mean it will be any good
  • don’t fit the bill – dont meet with your expectations
  • Nothing to write home about – average middle of the road

#True story: Spit and gargle language

When I was eight I fell off the slippery dip at the park and snapped my front teeth in half. Mom in tears to show her and thus began my dental journey. Going to the dentist, it ‘scares the living daylights out of me’. It’s nothing personal. My teeth just have a history. The latest, getting an implant. Next time don’t fall down the front stairs and crack your tooth!

I think that what had me ‘gobsmacked’ was how many people I know took great pleasure in reminding me of how painful, and expensive, it will be to have an implant. Yeah thanks guys. So I was ‘chuffed’ when one of my mates referred me to someone she’d used in the past. “I didn’t feel a thing” she said. Thanks luv! I don’t care that it might not be exactly true. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes you need something like that to ‘set the wheels in motion’ and it’s not that good dentist’s are ‘rare as hens teeth’ but more that when you move to a new suburb your ‘going in blind’. Horror stories going around and around in your head as you remember that needle coming out of your mouth bent and bloody from when you were a kid. How deep did they go?

A good dentist not only does a great job but they make you feel like everything will be OK. They are ‘right on the money’. There’s always going to be prodding and poking or times when your jaw just locks up. When you have that really good dentist. Now they’re the ones who also have this uncanny ability of being able to understand exactly what you say when your mouths full of plastic and metal and cotton. Man how do they do that? Feels like they do professional development on spit and gargle language, or something like that.

We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to have dental care that is so good ‘in this day and age’ . I take solace in knowing it was only early last century when they used to pull all your teeth out. You could get your very own dentures. It was even a gift some people got for their wedding present. ‘I shudder to think’.

Phrase or idiom meaning
  • Scares the living daylights out of me – feel extremely scared
  • Gobsmacked – so surprised you can’t speak
  • Chuffed – very pleased
  • Set the wheels in motion – to start a process
  • Rare as hen’s teeth – hens don’t have teeth, rare, non-existent
  • Going in blind – no previous knowledge of
  • Right on the money – accurate, correct
  • In this day and age – this present time
  • I shudder to think – something not pleasant to think about

#True Story – I stomped the carpet to put out the flames

When it comes to working in the kitchen I just don’t trust myself and I’d rather ‘play it safe’ due to an event that happened years ago. You’ve heard the saying  ‘a watched pot never boils’ well I say ‘the devil is in the detail’. I’d rather watch and wait.

Years ago I  hadn’t kept an eye out and a pot full of boiling hot oil caught on fire. When I noticed I panicked. It was ‘a deer in the headlights’ moment. When I did ‘spring into action’ I made bad choices and I watched as the house started to catch on fire. My mind was racing. I was walking around not knowing what to do with the pot. Go outside, no the dogs will jump up. Cover it with a towel, oh no the towel is on fire now too. By now my arms were getting painful from the burns I was receiving. I dropped the pot. It was spinning like when you spin a wheel to see where it will land. It was all happening in slow motion. It landed and ‘ground to a halt’. I realised the pot was no longer on fire.

So there I was, ‘running around like a chook with it’s head chopped off’ putting out flames that had started to lick up the walls from where I had passed. I stomped the carpet for flames that had taken a hold there. I survived!

It took a few months for those burns to heal. The doctor would cover it daily with special cream and then bandage it up. Both forearms were badly burnt. I couldn’t move my fingers because the scabs that formed were so big. It looked like armour from my elbows down. These days all I have are a series of small white scars on my forearms to remind me of that night. Little oil splatters. Nothing compares to what it could have been, but it didn’t need to be.

Guess that’s the problem when you panic. If I’d been thinking logically I would have ‘left it well alone’ and logically put a lid on it. But it was one bad choice after another. So these days I stay put in the kitchen and think of how it was such a close call. I’d rather watch the pot now.

Idiom or phrase meaning

  • Many shapes and forms – all different
  • Play it safe – act with caution
  • A watched pot never boils – time passes slowly when you wait for something to happen
  • The devil is in the detail – simple at first look, to do something thoroughly
  • A deer in the headlights – paralyzing surprise
  • Spring into action – do something quickly
  • Ground to a halt – stopped
  • Running around like a chook with it’s head chopped off – frantic or out of control
  • Leave well alone – leave it alone because you will make it worse by doing anything

ESL – Advanced

#True Story – Keep an eye on the tide

It’s a ‘rip snorter’ of a day. We’re up the coast at a small beachside town getting a bit of ‘R&R’ with a few of our friends. 

Up ‘this neck of the woods’ you can get a 4WD permit to drive on the beach so that’s the go for today. This beach goes for miles and miles. It’s such a pretty spot with a few islands dotted off the beach. The 4WDs are ready,  the fishing rods are loaded up, there’s the ‘barbie’, some beach chairs, and some ‘trashy mags’ for those of us that just want to chill. Let’s go!

Thus the adventure begins. You know what they say though, ‘the best laid plans’….aargh. We get on the beach and it’s like ‘bloomin Pitt Street’. There’s 4WDs everywhere and the sand is so mushy from all the tyre tracks. It’s like bouncing up and down on a jet ski as we drive along. So annoying. Should’ve gotten up at ‘the crack of dawn’.

The beach goes for miles and miles

It was great to catch up though. Haven’t seen everyone for ages. One friend’s ‘stoked’ on catching a flathead. Another mate pulls in his line and traipses further down the beach to see if he can ‘get a piece of the action’.  Meanwhile, the rest of us relax over a good read and soak up the suns rays. 

Now anyone that has spent a bit of time on the beach knows you need to keep an eye out for changes in the tide. You wouldn’t want to get caught out if the tide comes in too far. You might not have room to get the car off. We start to head off. Then the worst happens. Our car gets ‘bogged’ in the sand.

The sand is deep and loose and the car can’t get any traction. The tide is coming in and the longer I look the less sand there is. Waves are getting closer and closer as the high tide approaches. I can see just a narrow stretch of beach left to be able to exit. Still the tyres spin deeper and deeper. By now my mind is reeling. I’m seeing a king tide coming in and us  being swept away.

‘I’m not grabbing at straws’ here but maybe I’m just ‘being a bit of a drama queen’. Come on, ‘get a grip’. What about some positive self talk rather than ‘losing the plot’. What’s the worst that could happen?

  • Rip snorter – extremely good
  • R&R – rest and relaxation
  • This neck of the woods – here
  • Barbie – BBQ
  • Trashy mags – magazines with gossip and unreliable news
  • The best laid plans… – some plans don’t succeed
  • Bloomin Pitt Street – busy, Pitt Street is one of the busy main streets of Sydney
  • The crack of dawn – early, before the crowds.
  • Stoked – very happy
  • Get a piece of the action – get some success
  • Bogged – stuck
  • I’m not grabbing at straws – there is some truth to it
  • Being a bit of a drama queen – panicking, overly emotional
  • Get a grip – get some self control
  • Losing the plot – out of control



Now that would get my goat

I’ll do my best not to ‘chicken out’ of this challenge.

This blog has been created after an Italian friend of mine wanted to know about phrases to do with animals. Her favourite is ‘the cats pyjamas’ which is about feeling like the ‘bees knees’. It hails back to Jazz happening in the 1920’s in America, that’s around about the same time pyjamas became a trendy thing. They used to say that you were ‘a cool cat’ back then. I guess it’s a blend from there. Maybe that’s where we get the word ‘cool’ from today. While that’s a tad American that’s what seems to happen in Australia. There are a blend of idioms and phrases from here, there, and everywhere that we use.
If the ‘cat’s got your tongue’ then you’d be having trouble getting your words out. If you ‘can’t swing a cat around in it’ then your room must be very small. Your not literally swinging the cat thank goodness. Poor cat! If you were that would really ‘get my goat’. But I kinda feel sorry for chickens too cause if your freaking out you’re ‘running around like a chook with its head chopped off’.
Now you might think I’m a ‘bit of a galah’ but these phrases are fairly common. While they are common they are not used this much in a conversation. You wouldn’t think so when you read some of my posts. Guess I’m just ‘pig headed’ and ‘don’t give a hoot’ about opinions so am being a bit of a ‘show pony’ instead.
So remember, people might just think your ‘silly as a cut snake’ if you blurt them out with the frequency I am. If you want an excuse just tell them your ‘horsing around’. Otherwise just ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ and use them occasionally because you don’t want that ‘monkey on your back’! ‘Because how much can a koala bear?’
Idiom or phrase meaning
  • Chicken out – not game to do what you say you will
  • The cats pyjamas – the best, highly sought after
  • Bees knees – the best, highly sought after
  • Cool cat – cool, fantastic
  • Here, there, and everywhere – from everywhere
  • Cat’s got your tongue – lost for words, can’t think what to say
  • Can’t swing a cat around in it – tiny space
  • Get my goat – annoy me
  • Kinda – kind of, a bit like
  • Running around like a chook with its head chopped off – anxious and fretful
  • Bit of a galah – silly, bit of a larrikin but not always making the right choices
  • Pig headed – stubborn
  • Don’t give a hoot- don’t care (an owl hoots)
  • Show pony – showing off
  • Silly as a cut snake – silly
  • Blurt – say without thinking
  • Horsing around – mucking around, having fun
  • Let sleeping dogs lie – leave things alone.
  • Monkey on your back – be your problem (this one is visual)
  • Because how much can a koala bear? – Because how much can you tolerate? (This is meant to be a question so always say it this way)

ESL Level – Advanced

Painting Dee Grant – Acrylic on canvas digitized – 2014

#True story: Paying tribute – Family, friends and fond farewells

Going to a funeral online is strange, very strange. But that is ‘the way things roll’ these days with the pandemic. I watched through 3 different cameras, and 3 different views. Each person sits on their ‘socially distanced’ chair. Facemasks are worn as an accessory to somber attire. But I’m looking from a distance, observing from afar. I’m embracing a stilted sadness but maybe that’s what I’m ‘bringing to the table’.

For me the heart of the event was not ‘lost in translation’ within this virtual world. The sadness lingers and translates in ‘pride of place’ speeches and photos heralding the life of someone much loved. They ‘pay tribute’. I feel like a flaneur, slowly considering each word and gesture of his family and friends from a virtual distance. I get to know his family, background, and accomplishments achieved. I’m watching slides and seeing my neighbour from a totally different perspective. It is special and precious.

I am honoured to have made this acquaintance. You see, knowing him at this level was outside my usual ‘frame of reference’. We were neighbours, sometimes chatting at the lift or grabbing a coffee with him and his wife. I had only picked up bits and pieces of their world. But one photo truly resonated with me and put a smile on my face. There he is with his takeout coffee sitting on his walking frame near our local cafe. I can see the exact spot in my mind.

Rest in peace.

Idiom/Phrase meaning

  • The way things roll – how thing are
  • Socially distanced – Guideline for keeping physically separated to reduce the spread of the virus
  • Bringing to the table – your contribution
  • not ‘Lost in translation’ – It was understood
  • Pride of place – treated as the most important thing
  • Paying tribute – honour and praise someone
  • Flaneur – People watching (French)
  • Frame of reference – set of ideas that you base your outlook on

#True story: Hanging to get home – travels with my scooter

This story’s ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ of a friend of mine. She’s an Occupational Therapist. Last week she had been having one of her new clients trial a mobility scooter. She’d already ‘slogged it out’ ‘pounding the pavement’ on hilly footpaths. The scooter had ‘all the bells and whistles’ and her client took their newfound freedom like a ‘kid at the candy store’. She had to race to keep up. Should’ve worn sneakers, she thought to herself.

The scooter looked alot like a golf buggy but with an office chair slapped on top of it ‘for good measure’. Suffice to say she was ‘buggered’ by the end of the day and was ‘hanging to get home’. As such she ‘didn’t even blink’ before getting into a smallish lift on that mobility scooter. Her client pressed the button, the door shut, and great we’re right to go. Oh hang on, let me rewind that again. Her client presses the button, the door shuts, nothing happens.

It’s a bit like a scene out of the Matrix. A choice between two different realities. She shared today that she’s not sure that she would have ‘held it all together’ if she felt the client wasn’t on the other side of the lift door. She wanted to make sure she kept a professional image. Given she was told it would be a 30-45 minute wait before they could rescue her was a bit freaky. By this stage I bet her ‘heart was in her mouth’. I really felt for her. Seriously though, she was ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ cause she couldn’t even get off the scooter in the lift to turn around. There wasn’t enough room. Man, I think I ‘would have lost it’. Fifteen minutes later though it begins to move. Bet that was a long fifteen minutes!

Idiom/Phrase meaning

  • Straight from the horse’s mouth – direct from the person
  • Slogged it out – tiring walk
  • Pounding the pavement – walk or run
  • All the bells and whistles – additional extras
  • Kid at the candy store – excited
  • For good measure – in addition to what has already been said
  • Buggered – tired
  • Hanging to get home – keen to get home
  • Didn’t even blink – didnt think about it
  • Held it all together – remained calm
  • Heart was in her mouth – very nervous
  • Stuck between a rock and a hard place – in a difficult situation
  • Would have lost it – stop being in control of your emotions