Tuesday, December 31

What? I missed the Edinburgh Military Tattoo?

I was shattered this morning to read on FB that some of my friends were watching the 2013 Edinburgh Military  Tattoo - I'd marked it off as a "must watch" in my TV Guide, but somehow missed it - went to bed, strangely thinking it would be tonight.  I found it on YouTube though, and have just watched it - at least the version on YouTube.

I have always loved watching marching and marching bands, and have a couple of CD's of band music which I enjoy.  It reminds me of the Thinking Day ceremonies at Adelaide's Government House where Girl Guides from all over the state came and marched to the band music into the grounds of Government House and where girls were awarded their Queen's Guide Awards.  I was one of those girls in 1960 and still treasure my certificate and badge.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been going for 64 years - originally set up to bring hope and joy following World War II and is now a huge annual event in Edinburgh Castle each August.

The following is the 2013 Edinburgh Military Tattoo that I was just watching and enjoying thoroughly.


 

Monday, December 30

New Year Plans - Bring on 2014!!!

Each year, as one year ends and the other is about to germinate, I contemplate my plans for the future.  I am not a fan of “New Year Resolutions” as such, but I do like to have a plan for the coming year. Short term goals, mid-term goals, long term goals, travel ideas, fun things etc.  Those who know me well, know I am a LIST person.  Each day I write a few things down on paper – no, just can’t come at doing it on my “smart phone” – I like doing it with paper and my fountain pen, especially if I have purple ink.  Weird perhaps, but I note that we all are different and have our own different ideas and habits.

I like to have my list completed by December 31st, ready to get started on January 1st.  I am not one to be hung over or even doing anything very exciting on New Year’s Eve or Day – though not necessarily ready to get right into doing things on January 1st, but I revel in knowing that I have some idea of what I plan to achieve for the following year.  I’m likely to celebrate with a glass of wine or even bubbly – confident, knowing that I know where I want to go.

This time last year I was in Adelaide – about to set off on the rest of my “round Australia” journey – the journey that some folk thought I was mad doing.  I’d do it all again – IF I had more money.

Money?   That is one thing I want to focus on in 2014.  Clearly the “Old Age Pension” is inadequate.  I can live on it – just.  I want to LIVE – enjoy life more – afford to go out to dinner occasionally, buy new clothes, not have to procrastinate over invitations that I know will cost me more money than I can afford.  Certainly I would have loved to have won a big sum on one of the recent multimillion dollar Lotto draws, and though I had a ticket, my dreams did not come to fruition – in fact not a cent did I win.  Still, as they say, one has to be IN it to win it.  I did my best.

My 2014 plans are about making more money.  I will continue to be involved in PennyMatrix, and I do believe that I can made a small but steady income with that – though I have yet to convince any of my friends to  join.  I will still be involved with Lyoness – though I am not prepared to put in the dollars and time that are needed to make a success of that.  I am saving/earning small sums of money with that though and will continue.  There is another online program I have been involved in, but am not convinced it is of great value though I have more than tripled my investment, it is just that it is not so easy to get the money out.  I will continue to explore the options there as there is a large sum involved.

It is my WRITING that I am hoping will make things differently for me.  I have several unfinished/unedited works in my computer (and yes, backed-up), and I am committing to being more organised with my writing.  I WILL treat my WRITING like a business and will finish things and I will work and submit my work.  I will.   I will.

I will do my one day a week at the Caboolture Historical Village – but no more.  I have in the past few months worked harder that I had originally intended to, but have no regrets about what I have done.

As well as working on some of my unfinished works, I will also spend one day a week working on writing Life Stories.  I do have a passion about that – and hope that I can get some paid work doing this – and will work to achieve this.  A few years ago when I started The Official Biographer I managed to get some of my writer friends to do some writing for me – and hope that I can achieve that in 2014.  I hope to have the new business cards ready in the first week of January.

I am still working out my hours of work – particularly hours of writing – and will have that done by January 1st.   It will be hard to keep on track but I am determined to make a success of my writing.  Time is running out – I am (like everyone) getting older, and if I don’t finish things soon, they may languish forever in a computer until it too dies.

I do intend to keep blogging and this is presenting me with some challenges.  I will continue with the “Diary of a House Sitter and Traveller Blog” but I am hoping to create a blog which will be more successful and offer great value for readers, rather than a ramble of my activities. I am thinking it will focus on writing life stories or similar – though not sure at this stage.  I will have to hurry, but today I am doing some brainstorming and studying to help with this.  I am also committed to the Ultimate Blog Challenge – which I am sure will help me on my way. 

I had attempted the 31 day blog challenge previously, but failed due to study/travel etc.  but this time I have no plans that will hinder my participation and indeed having learned so much from that failed attempt, and since I am really keen to make a mark on it.

So, I must get busy.

Are there any readers who want to connect with me in the Ultimate Blog Challenge – we certainly could help each other.  Do contact me – even via the comment box!!!  Please.  It would be so much fun.

This is a white wooden piece that I took around Australia with me.  It is being transformed.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 29

Introducing Wally and Minnie


How to photograph goldfish…..
I never set out to take photos of them.  Well, I just didn’t even consider it – that is until I mentioned them in a blog and knowing that photographs go well in a blog, I wished I had taken the photo when they were just in the plastic bag in which I carried them home from the Caboolture market.  The plastic bag safely "hidden" in the Victoria Market bag along with a small bag of fish food. 

On arriving home I released them from the dark confines of the Market bag, into fresh tank water in their new home – a rather large cement type pot which many years ago housed my first gold fish friends.

I had already decided to name these new fish – after my very long departed grandparents Minnie and Wally.  I don’t recall Minnie though I have seen photos of her and I can’t even remember talking about her with my father.  Wally, I did know.  He lived alone in his brick and stone house in Airlie Avenue Prospect – he had lived there from soon after he and Minnie married, until his death.  My dad was like him – at least in looks.  He loved birds and had a great collection of budgerigars.  It is family legend that he bred the first black budgie – I don’t recall seeing it.    He did give us a budgie when we were children – a green one we called Willie Fennell after a famous comedian of the time. 

Back to my gold fish.  One is a Comet fish and the other has some strange name which I can’t recall and I don’t know what gender they are.  How do you tell the sex of a gold fish? Mmmm  Something to research.

Oh, the photo.  In their new home they have been hiding under the greenery that I purchased.  Some weird grassy things held together with some rubber bands.  I forgot to ask how to look after the grass – should I take the rubber bands off?  There’s absolutely no chance of getting them to smile for the camera from under the grass.

So, I rinsed out a large glass vase that has not seen any fresh flowers since I have been here at Beachmere – in fact I have had no fresh flowers at all since I moved here, and then filled it halfway with some of the tank water.  Then with a plastic food container I scooped and scooped and scooped hoping to catch Wally and Minnie as they raced feverishly around the big bowl trying to escape my scoop.  At last I had Minnie and eventually the wily Wally, and dropped them into the glass vase. 

I had cleared a small coffee table – and with great care lest I drop the glass vase and see my new fishy friends flapping on the floor, I carried it inside and safely planted it on the table. 

Wally and Minnie appeared rather stressed by this ordeal and clung together as much as goldfish can do, at the bottom of the vase, shaking and gulping (or was that really abuse being hurled my way?)

I sat patiently with Canon camera at the ready, hoping that with luck I could get a decent photo before stress got the better of them and they died of fright.

Click, click, click.

Thinking I had stressed them and myself enough for one day, I turned the camera off and gently walked the glass vase back outside and as gently as I could poured the water and the fish back into the “pond”.

(Later) I am not sure if they are still in shock or just resting beneath the greenery – but their tails do move a little bit and if they were dead wouldn’t they float upside down on the top?  Wouldn’t they?

I must read up – there’s probably something on the Internet – about caring for two goldfish, and perhaps I should find out how to determine their gender.  Perhaps Wally should be Minnie?  Or maybe they are both the same gender?  Gay, maybe?
 
That's Minnie silver and gold.

Minnie - clearly the dominant fish - on top.
 
 
Comet

Shubunkin

How to tell the gender of a goldfish
 

Christmas to New Year

It is always a strange and pleasant time of year - time to relax and reflect on the past year and make plans for the new year.

Today I was up early and visited the Caboolture Markets - while not all the stalls were in place I managed to get what I wanted.  My two new friends Minnie and Wally came home with me.  (I'll take photos and add info later.)

I was back home by 9 am - and happy to get into cooler clothing as it is a steamy hot day.  I have a few tasks to do today - but it is Sunday - a day of rest.  The cricket is on - so have television on Channel 9 - but seldom sit just looking at it.  In fact sometimes I turn the television to MUTE and listen to the ABC and listen to music and just check the screen for scores occasionally.

I did take time to do the survey for Coles.  I am a user of the Flybuys card - I figure I may as well get the discounts etc offered and when I picked up the invitation to "tell Coles" at the supermarket the other day, I figured I should do it.  I don't mind taking back some of the money I spend there.  I do shop at Woolworths too - and use their loyalty card too.  Why not?   I save money - I do get rewarded for using the card. 

With Coles you can do the survey every month - and not only earn $5 off a shop of $100 or more, or alternatively 1000 points on your Flybuys (which is equal to $5 anyway), plus go in the draw for a $1000 gift card each month.  I've never won the latter, but the few dollars here and there is helpful.  Also I am happy to get 8c a litre off my petrol. 

I have done a little research today online, but it is not my focus.  I have some shortbreads to make, and a few other small tasks to do, but generally it is an easy day.



Weather permitting - I will go for a ride on my bike later today.  No rush.  No worries.

Tuesday, December 24

Merry Christmas



Best Wishes for Christmas 2013  and for the new year - May 2014 be great for us all!!

Sunday, December 22

Centenary Lakes Caboolture

I've been several times to Centenary Lakes at Caboolture, but last week I went armed with my camera.  Really there are many great areas within the Lakes grounds for photography, and I confess I went only a few feet from where my car was parked.
 
One day when I am feeling more energetic (hampered somewhat by a "bad back" at the moment) I will do the walking circuit.  It is a mostly peaceful area - with so much for all members of the family to do.
 
The lakes have a great population of birds including ducks, moorhens, geese (watch out or these during the mating season - they get narky!!) and children love to throw them scraps of food.  They will scramble around one's feet to get food - but will just as quickly race back to the water and paddle away.  (Don't forget to take a bag of breadscraps!)
 
There are many places for a picnic with shelters in many parts of the park, and a great covered children's play area.
 
According to the Moreton Bay Regional Council website "Facilities include toilets, electric BBQ's, picnic tables, seats, shelter, drinking fountain, water bridge, walking tracks and car parking. Sports complex incorporating basketball, netball, BMX and skate bowl."
 
 
 

 





So - pack a picnic lunch, a rug to sit on (or chairs in case there are no spare seats)  a ball or two, a bag of bread scraps, hats and sunscreen, walking shoes, and water bottles and set off.  One could spend a whole day there - so much to do.

Saturday, December 21

Santa comes to town....

Late yesterday I could hear a strange siren - sounded like an old police siren, but it went on and on.  Several times I went to the front or back yard to listen and determine what it was.  Perhaps I should have guessed, but I didn't   Then it got louder - and I found it was in my street.

Again I went to the front yard and a strange car with a siren and flashing light appeared and children came out from their homes - clearly they knew what or who it was that was visiting.

Then a strange apparition - Santa in his sleigh behind a reindeer appeared and Santa's helper threw lollies in all directions.  It was I found out something that was done each year by Apex - it brought a thrill to the children (especially if they managed to find a lolly!) and a smile to the faces of the adults in the street.

Good on you, Apex!!  Well done.  Next year I won't be too concerned and will have my Canon camera ready.

 

Friday, December 20

New flowers and garden.

 
 
When I drove into the car park at the Caboolture Historical Village last week I was greeted by a delightful sunflower - growing on the edge of the parking area.  Self sown, I am sure.  Probably the seed was dropped by a passing bird - but the plant has grown well without any care and was in full flower.



I just had to take a photo - it is between the car park and the road north to Beerburrum, with the railway line further over.

Then after taking the photos, I grabbed my things from the car and walked towards the main entrance to see that since my last visit only a couple of days ago, a new garden had been created.


It will be a while before the plants grow but it was a delight to see.

Monday, December 16

Queensland Symphony Orchestra at South Bank

I just love these performances - which look like they are not pre-arranged.  This one features the Queensland Symphony Orchestra playing Bolero - something that will bring back memories for many.  I love the little bloke and his drum kit too.  Congratulations QSO.

My Son

Yesterday, unexpectedly my son visited.  I have not seen him for many months as he spent some months in Finland with his lovely lady friend, and since he has been back we have just not had the opportunity to see him - until yesterday.

There was a lot of catching up to do - and it was great.  I saw the great website he built while he was in Finland - for FinOz - which is pretty awesome.

He has also finished his own website - he is looking or voiceover work now - though he does have a job in sales. 

 
 
(I must say I remember him like this - but lately he has grown his hair long - and looks a bit like Billy Connolly!!!)

He's pretty handy - now my kitchen table doesn't wobble and the fridge door closes properly!!!   Whoo hoo.  I wonder what other (minor) jobs I can find for him to do.........
 

Saturday, December 14

Moving Tribute to Mandela

What an extra ordinary life Mandela had - amazing to continue fighting for black Africans the way he did - and spending 26 years incarcerated in gaol for his troubles.  I am sure there are and will be more books about the amazing life.

I fear the last months of his life have been rather tragic - I hate to think about his condition during those times, but the outpouring of love for him since his death has been amazing.

I wish we had such an inspiring leader - is there anyone other than Mandela who can inspire a country like he did?

I saw this on FB - and had to share it here.  Awesome.  (even an awesome Woolworths store too!!)

 

Crabby



It has been a few weeks since I put the crab pot in to source a meal of delicious mud crab - as many live in the lake nearby and I have had much success - in fact I think about 99% of the time I get a good sized crab.

I put the pot in on Thursday evening (I go at low tide as it is easy for me to get close to the lake to throw the pot in and attach to some railings there. 

I went back yesterday at low tide (Friday) and what I found shocked me!!  There was one large crab and the remains of another - which I can only guess was attacked by the big buggar.  The shell of the smaller on was almost empty - and a few claws and legs remained in the bottom of the pot.

The "remains" of the smaller crab.

The poor crab must have died an ugly death.  I can only guess.  The big fellow was ferocious!!  I found it difficult to release him from the pot - so carried it the few feet to my home and on the back lawn (safer than doing such a task on the rocks!!) I managed to drop him into the plastic bucket.

I put the crabs in the freezer to "sleep" before preparing. 

There it will wait until I have the time and enthusiasm for my crab dinner.  It is a good one with plenty of meat!!!  Yum.



 

Friday, December 13

Update, Update, Update

I do have a major writing commitment on at the moment and am looking forward to the next few weeks to get some "me" time - I don't have many commitments for Christmas at this stage, and as the Caboolture Historical Village will be closed for a few days over the holiday period, I am hoping to have some freedom to do as I want.

I am now working on a new website - hoping to do it all myself and so far so good - though it just does my head in a bit.  I MUST earn some money after Christmas - my current income gives me no flexibility so I am restoring my biography writing business, as well as increasing my other writing activity.

It has been a long and hard slog (well since late June) in settling in to Beachmere, and learning my way around.

One thing that I am doing and earnin some dollars - and looking forward to increasing that with some writing projects in 2014 is Penny Matrix.  I have friends who are earning money - it is not a get rich quick scheme thankfully, but it is worth looking at.  One pays $7 a month to access free ebooks, and as it is growing you earn a tiny commission of each person who is in your "matrix". 

So I invite readers to check on PENNY MATRIX - and see for themselves.  I am happy to send more information. 

I have big plans for 2014. 

 

Thursday, December 12

What I do at Caboolture Historical Village.

 
After moving to Beachmere (in the Moreton Region of Queensland) and not far from the town of Caboolture, I offered my services as a volunteer at the Caboolture Historical Village.  My role is as a Marketing Assistant - which seems to emcompass quite a bit really!
 
One of my tasks was to collate material and plan a "script" for Tour Guides for the Village - especially for bus tours.   Eventually though, we recruited a number of volunteers to act as Tour Guides in the Village - not only for bus tours but for any group.
 
We have had a number of bus groups visit and though we hae done very little commentary from inside the buses as most folk have been able and keen to, walk through the exhibits so we co ordinate this - adding commentary and information.
 
Last Sunday we had a bus group in from Bundaberg, and Miss Merry Weather (Sylvia) and I (in the new outfit) met the bus contingent and had a wonderfully funny time in the Village.  It was busy - very busy, for the short time the tourists were in our care.  I think the visitors from Bundaberg Coaches had a good time.
 
 
Leaving the Caboolture Historical Village

Miss Merry Weather at the Bundaberg Bus.
 
In all that it was me (the photographer for above) that was the only one of our Tour Guides wearing the new uniform that arrived that day. So yesterday (December 11th)  I managed to coax Sylvia (alias Miss Merry Weather) and Bill to show off the new oufits near our Shuttle Bus which we use to pick up visitors from the Caboolture Train Station (it must be pre arranged and needs to be a group of 3 or more I think).
 
 

 
Sylvia and Bill show off the new outfits.
 
 What do I do?  Take photos, train the Tour Guides and a myriad of other small tasks.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 11

Lily

This little bear travels with me everywhere - at least when I have my car as she sits neatly on the dashboard. 
 
 
 
 
I bought it a few years ago - in fact I bought two - they were part of fund raising for the Cancer Fund.  When I set out on my travels a few years ago - I left the second one with a granddaughter - along with a collection of teddy bears. 
 
As a child I didn't have a teddy bear - so I collected a few in recent years, but travelling didn't have a safe place for them.  Along with the teddies is a Christmas dog - cute.  They are all on my guest bed at the moment - and one is awaiting repairs.  But at least the two lavender bears have been united - at least spend most nights under the same roof.  I have kept Lily in my car. 
 
 
I speak to her from time to time - and hope she has enjoyed travelling.  She's a well travelled bear - having been a passenger in my car for some 47,000 kms.
 


Sunday, December 8

More on "My" Frogs

Several nights ago, I was in my small but delightful back yard with a torch, checking on the whereabouts of the frogs that live in my yard - and saw the strangest things.  Two more green frogs walking along the top of the back fence.  Really, you'd only see it if you were wandering around your yard at night with a torch. Silently they walked, crept across the top of the fence, and into my neighbour's yard - not that I can see there, but that is what happened.

When my kindly neighbour came to help me erect some shade cloth to protect my pot plants from the searing summer sun, I told him about it.  He looked at me in disbelief. 

That night, I could hear him and his wife in their back garden and saw the flash of his torch between the palings that divide our yards.

"Can you see them?" 

They could see some of them, but two green frogs were still on their way across the top of the fence and he swung his torch to shine across the fence and saw what I had told him about.

Two frogs - about two metres apart - were making their way along the fence to his yard. 

He watched on an off for some hours - wondering if indeed they were going to have fun in his pond - but he claims that all they did was sit and watch him!!!!

Last night I watched just one frog make its way along the fence.

I wonder what they are doing??


 


It is a "green" frog - but this one has a browny hue to his skin.

View from my back yard at dusk

Tuesday, November 26

The Green Frogs – One big, one tiny......


....................and one middle sized.

I’ve always been fascinated by green frogs (well, I am fascinated by all nature!) and over the years have seen a few – we did have them at our home at Wynnum West, and then for some reason they disappeared though we could often hear the noisy swampy marsh frogs in the garden.  The green ones are hard to see – they hide well during the day, and come out at night and often are so camouflaged that they are hard to see.

At my new abode at Beachmere, I had not seen any – in fact hadn’t even thought of green frogs.  I didn’t know there were any there.  On reflection it is not surprising – it is a very wet area around here – “mere” means marsh and it is marshy, though I thought much of the water was sea water – so not likely to be a ‘friend’ of the green frogs.

However, much to my surprise one day a few weeks ago I found a huge green frog wedged near my back door.  It was weird as I nearly stepped on him, and eventually covered him with a damp cloth.  I say “him” – but I certainly don’t know the gender.
 

 

That night, on dusk he hopped away, and I managed to take a photo of him.  Sometime later I heard a very loud croaking and each time I went outside to see where it was coming from it stopped.  Eventually I worked it out - he hides during the day behind one of the pipes in the air conditioner.  I have learned that there are two hiding there.

When rain is imminent his croaking echoes around my small back yard – it is as if he is letting me know about the rain.

Well hidden........
 
 Each night I look for him.  He often hops onto other pipes leading from the air conditioning unit and eventually lands on the window sill – I guess that is an easy spot to catch insects as they land on the window pane.  He usually does a big poo on the window sill. (I wish he’d do it somewhere else!!!)

Sometimes he sits and appears to look inside my lounge room for a while before heading off to wherever he goes each night.  The other frog that lives in the little cavity where the pipes come out is a medium sized frog – perhaps his “wife”.

I then found a tiny little green frog which for several days just sat during the day on leaves on one of my plants – well hidden from any predators.  It is not always easy to take photos of them – but I have managed to capture some good images of them.

It is now several months since the first green frog showed itself to me – and as the weather has gone from being unseasonably dry to typical of the early wet seasons, I hear more frogs croaking around the place. It is a sign of good health – not mine, but good health of the environment.

Monday, November 25

Travel Plans - Portugal next?

My travelling is somewhat curtailed at the moment - but is (hopefully) not over.  Really, it is only seven months since I returned from my round Australia adventure and having moved to Beachmere, travel is just a dream at the moment.

A lady I worked with in China is now in Morocco - and I'd love to get there too, so I am thinking of going over that way.  A friend has sent me this about Portugal - a combination of Morocco, London, Dublin, Spain and Portugal, maybe. 

Things to Do in Portugal

Think holidays in Portugal and you'll probably conjure up images of the Algarve's golden sands and lively beach resorts. But as savvy holidaymakers know, there's much more to holidays in Portugal than meets the eye - and much more to do than laze on a beach all day. Although, let's be honest, that does hold a certain appeal...

Brilliant Beaches

The Algarve, on Portugal's sunny south coast, is the perfect spot for a family holiday by the beach. Here you'll find a number of bustling resorts such as lively Albufeira, family-friendly Lagos and quiet Carvoeiro. There are stacks of different beaches along this sunny stretch of coastline and plenty of things to see and do, ranging from watersports and boat trips to water parks and family-friendly evening entertainment. Near Lagos, you'll find the incredible Ponta da Piedade, a series of honey-coloured rock formations that jut out of aquamarine seas, creating a quite spectacular vista. Search online for a package holiday - such as those available through thomascook.com - as this is a great way to find low-cost deals and last-minute discounts.

 Island Hopping

There's more than enough to see and do in Portugal, but it's well worth coming back to spend a few days in the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores. In Madeira, known as the Floating Garden, you'll find all manners of exotic plants and fabulous levadas that wind their way across the rocky island in a series of strenuous trails and tiny footpaths. In the Azores, it's like you've landed on nature's playground. Cast out into the Atlantic Ocean, these Portuguese gems offer wildflower meadows and sleepy villages, stunning lagoons and vibrant festivals.

 City Living

Holidays in Portugal are nothing if not cultural. In Lisbon you'll find a fascinating heritage and a vibrant culture, where historical architecture abounds and tiny cobbled lanes network with wide promenades and busy streets flanked with designer boutiques. It's a fantastic city and one that's well worth a visit at any time of year.
 
I am thinking about it!!!!

Thursday, November 21

Underground Hotel in China

My friends will know that since I went to teach in China in 2008 and 2010, I am fascinated by the developments in that country.  I saw this today and thought I'd share it.

The Block Arcade in Melbourne


The Block Arcade

In 1966 when I completed my nursing training at Mt Gambier Hospital was the first time I lived in the Melbourne area.  I worked at the Austin Hospital for a while before that.   After I married we lived in Warrnambool and then in Seaford (Melbourne) and it was at Frankston Hospital that our son was born, and later I did a few nights a week night duty as a nurse there.

So it was some 40 years plus ago that we lived there.  Mmmm. 

I have been back to Melbourne for short visits – mainly business trips, though last year I was there for Uni graduation.  However, I was there for a few days on my own from October 30th to November 3rd – and managed to look around Melbourne  city.

I stayed at the Pensione Hotel on Spencer Street, so it was a fairly short walk (dodging smokers, butts and motorbikes) and was able to see some places that were familiar to me some years ago.

One of those places was the Block Arcade – I don’t know why it is so familiar to me, but when I arrived at the entrance I had to take some deep breaths.  This really is what Melbourne IS!  Iconic historic buildings, fantastic food – it was like walking into another world!!!  Their website has some awesome pics.
 





 

I wandered around in awe – peering in windows, taking the occasional photo – oh, how can any photo do justice to this place!

Oh, how I must go back to Melbourne and continue to explore the city!!!

 (I note the tea rooms with the most awesome display of foods - with a queue out the front too I noticed, was called Hopetoun Tea Rooms - once upon a time I was a pupil at Hopetoun School, Brighton South Australia.  I must discover the history behind the  spelling of 'toun' - as opposed to "town".  I am sure it means the same....)

 

Watchmaker in Melbourne

I don’t know when my gold Citizen watch ran out of puff – it could be some years ago, as I chose to wear gaudy mostly purple watches for a long time – most of them bought at Adelaide Airport’s Terner shop next door to the Smiggle shop that appeals to the younger set.

The Terner shop has an array of jewellery, bags, scarves and other similar small fashion items for sale at around $20 – but in the past few years I have never passed without buying a watch, preferably with a purple band, though I do have a number of white or “snakeskin lookalike in black and white” ones – bought on the days I could not find a watch with a purple band that appealed to me.

In my moving to my new abode I came across the gold watch – looking pretty much the same as it did when it was given to me quite a few years ago, but the hands were stuck – immovable due to the “death” of the battery.  I know batteries can be a little pricey – and as always with my shortage of cash, I was slow in getting something done and carried the poor watch in my bag for months – planning to do something, sometime….

Walking down Bourke Street in Melbourne, I thought I’d try and find someone who would not “rip me off” with an expensive battery and went into a shop that sold watches and other gorgeous jewellery.  I ignored the beauty in the shop – just on a mission to get the gold watch back to work again. Sorry, we don’t do batteries, but there’s a watchmaker over there – indicating a corner not far away.

Off I set – enthusiastically – as I hoped that this would be the answer to my watch problem.  It didn’t take long to find – a tiny little shop about the size of a small bathroom.  I kid you not – how this guy could work in such a small place fascinated me. 

He sat behind the counter with an eye piece that I have seen “real” jewellers wear.  You don’t see that much in the new glittery shops.  A lady sat on a seat in the small space and two ladies carried on a conversation with both the lady on the seat and the jeweller.  I stood waiting for my “turn” – and they chatted on for a short while somewhat oblivious to me.  A man was waiting on the footpath in front of the tiny shop – one of the chatty women was his wife and he was getting impatient with her.  “Come on.  There are customers lining up” he eventually said as he put his head inside the shop.  He nodded to me, and added “This is the best place in all Australia to get your watch fixed – he doesn’t rip you off!”

Another two potential customers came.  Then there were three or four of us waiting on the footpath.  Quickly the conversation ended, and I went in with my gold watch in my hand.

“I think I only need a new battery” I said as I handed it over to the jeweller, I now know as Joe.  He peered at it briefly, “undid” the gold band and laid it flat on the counter before him, and then pulled off the back.

“Batteries are $15!” he said.  “Great” said I.

Within seconds our business was complete.  I had handed over $15 cash – and my now working – with time set to local Melbourne time – watch was soon on my wrist!  Yippee.

The little shop is Golden-Square, at 257 Little Collins Street, Melbourne.  The lady on the seat was his wife. 

Well worth going to!! 

Friday, November 15

Melbourne's Immigration Museum


I remember noticing this building when I was previously in Melbourne, and made a mental note to visit some time.  Actually I have a list of place to visit when I go to Melbourne, and there’s never enough time for me to see them all.  This time though, happily I made it to the Immigration Museum.

Funnily, once upon a time I though there was only one sort of Museum, but these days there are new museums being opened all the time.  I remember in China visiting a Wine Museum, a Bed Museum, a Wood Museum, and a Paper Museum, and probably some I don’t recall.

It was a short walk from the Pensione Hotel in Spencer Street and I set off with little idea of what I would be seeing.
   
 
The building itself is most interesting – I recall that it was the Custom’s House in a previous life, when migrants and visitors to Melbourne were offloaded at the nearby Yarra River to be cleared by Customs.

It was most interesting and quite an eye opener for me.  I saw and watched a presentation where various migrants from all around the world were interviewed and talked about their lives in their homelands, the struggles through wars, poverty, political upheaves and more and how they made their way to the safety of Australia and a new life.  The stories were very moving.

It is a place that one could spend many hours investigating the many exhibits – and I do hope I can return one day.

 
 
One of the major exhibits was about Muslim women, Faith, Fashion, Fusion which featured  their fashions, on the second floor of the building.  It was a beautifully done exhibition, and I learned how well education many of the Muslim migrants were, and what they were doing.  It was helpful to understand why they wore the clothing that they do – and showed that there is quite a variety of clothing, plus the fact that not all Muslim women were the clothing. 

There was so much to see – sometimes I get somewhat overwhelmed with all the information.  

A big plus too was that as I am a Senior it was free to enter and enjoy the exhibits.
 
 


 There are three floors of exhibits in the Museum - and I have just read that no photography can be taken on second floor.  Ooops.  Still I am promoting the exhibit!

More more information go to the website here.

 

 

Thursday, November 14

Abbotsford Convent

The family wedding in Melbourne was at AbbotsfordConvent.  I caught a taxi from Spencer street, and with the invitation in my hand with the address I showed it to the driver, who nodded saying he knew it and off we went.  He was an Aussie man, and we had quite a pleasant chat along the way.

When we arrived in the street listed on the invitation he drove in a gate and climbed out of the car to find out exactly where the wedding ceremony would occur as we had stopped adjacent to a car park and a gallery of art.

He returned ot the car and told me the direction I needed to go and after paying him, I set off to find the wedding venue and/or someone I knew as other family members would be attending.

I walked in the direction I was told but as I was to learn later, it was the wrong information that had been given to me.  Oddly enough I came accidentally upon the groom (my nephew) and his groomsmen, and learned the correct place to go.

Other family members were also there and we took our place in the convent for the service.  It was an amazing building – a chapel in the shape of a ‘T’ with most extra ordinary artwork in every direction.  Apparently the renovations and restorations had not long been done, and it certainly was a spectacular sight.

The wedding went off well.  The bride wore gold – much to the surprise of most of the congregation.

Later after the bridal part departed, we chatted with them and other family members at the front of the church before going to a lawned area for photos, and later the reception that was held in one of the halls.

The Abbotsford Convent complex is large with excellent gardens, a bakery, art and teaching precincts and a lot more than we were able to see.  I took a few photos in the garden and around the buildings.

The ceiling in the convent
I will go back one day when I visit Melbourne again.  I’d love to wander around at my leisure and explore this extra ordinary precinct on the Yarra Rive
Plants in the garden
 
Tables at the Reception
r.

Wednesday, November 13

Motorbikes and Butts

I walked and walked around Melbourne, enjoying looking in shop windows, galleries, and trying out some food outlets.  But there were some things that annoyed and fascinated me.

The fascination?  Motor bikes on footpaths.  I remember when we were in China - 2008 and 2010 we were familiar the large numbers of bikes on footpaths - in fact in some places there were so many one had to weave in and out of the bikes randomly parked along the side of major roadways, particularly in shopping and business areas.

I had no idea that the practice had come to the cities of Australia.  In some ways it makes sense, but it was something I was unfamiliar with - perhaps because I have not spent a lot of time right in the cities of Australia.




As well as the bikes there was something else that was infesting the  footpaths!!!  Smokers!!!  I guess if you have a big population of workers, and that smoking is no longer permitted inside building, that those who continue with this silly habit have to go down to the street to puff on a fag.  There were so many of them!!!!

Being a pedestrian I was forced to walk via this wall of second hand smoke - such that my cough was easily triggered (I have since found out that I have had a mild bout of Whooping Cough), and my clothing smelled of smoke.  So awful!!

In addition smokers discarded their butts everywhere.  What a stupid stinking mess to pollute a beautiful city.

I emphasise that this is unhealthy and unpleasant - sorry Melbourne, I was not impressed with this aspect of your city life.

Friday, November 8

Melbourne's Chinatown

I arrived in Melbourne around 3 pm, checked into my hotel room at The Pensione on Spencer Street, donned comfy walking gear and set off to get to Chinatown.  I'd had little to eat and had my sights set on eating something made with duck.

I set off along Collins Street and was soon distracted by so many other things.  The ArtYarramunua Art Gallery, at 500 Collins Street, drew me in and I was so pleased to discover the works of Tommy Watson, (no relation I don't think......) but enjoyed looking at his paintings and reading about him.  Click on the link and check out the YouTube video about the artists in the gallery.  I loved reading and hearing the stories of the amazing works.

In the same building was Ken Duncan Gallery - and again I was in heaven as I explored the works on show in the gallery.  How I would (a) like to be able to take such wonderful photos and (b) afford to buy some of them.  I did manage two post cards!!!  It is well worth a visit.

On and on I went, discovering something wonderful at almost every block.  How wonderful is the shopping in Melbourne!!!!  My next stop was The Book Grocer - books at $10 or less.  How I tried to resist, but soon after out I came with a bag of books which I lugged with me on and on as I set out to find some food as I was then getting very hungry.

Some of my walkings took me slightly off track, but I continued.  I love the graffiti art in the laneways, and was surprised to see so many photographers - completed with tripods in the lanes.




 
 

While not everyone would see the "art" in this sort of graffiti - it certainly adds interest and colour to the laneways that otherwise would be dour and filled with illegal graffiti.  Now they are a tourist attraction on their own.



I soon found the entrance to China town and walked along - feeling rather disappointed really.  It looked dowdy, untidy, and not as grand as I had hoped.  I didn't go all the way up the laneway, as my feet by this stage were screaming for a rest, so I looked around and found a restaurant and went in.

I found China Red and went in.  The ordering is done on a screen at the table - though I gather from reviews, while it is interesting to do, I and others actually would like to order the normal way.  However, I was happy to get some lovely duck and vegetable dumplings which I loved, and I ordered another dish as a takeaway.  I loved the restaurant symbol on the plates.  Clever.

My weary legs carried me back along another route to the Pensione and a restful night.


 

Wednesday, November 6

Airlines

As it turns out, this trip I was on the three major airlines in Australia.  My friend booked our flight from Brisbane to Adelaide on Qantas - she always flies with Qantas as she like to take plenty of clothes when she travels.  I clearly pack much lighter.  Her suitcase was about 20 kgs and mine 15 kgs, but she can carry up to 23 kg with Qantas. 

Our flight was around 11.30 am - Brisbane to Adelaide, and we left here about 8 am.  Gee I was hungry, but she told me we would get fed on the plane.  Also we had an issue as she likes an aisle seat and I like a window seat - and I ended up squeezed in the middle - lamenting that I had not insisted on my favourite window seat, but the biggest insult was the food that was dished up.

A Chorizo Pasty - soft, and awful to taste though might have been appealing to a Chorizo fan.  It did nothing for me except leave a nasty taste - about the food and Qantas.

My next flight was with Virgin - yay, I had my window seat again, but a little hemmed in as all seats were full.  But I happily paid to have a snack and I loved the flight from Adelaide to Melbourne - not a long flight of course.

Melbourne to Brisbane was on Jetstar.  The biggest issue I have with Jetstar is that one has to climb stairs to get in and out of the plane.  I struggle with stairs at any time, and lugging a computer bag up and down with me does not help, plus my feet were aching from all my walking.  I so wish they would find a way for walkways. 

So my choice is Virgin Australia. 
 

Monday, November 4

The Patawalonga

The Patawalonga Lake is a far cry from what it was in its early days - when driving past one had to hold one's nose because of the stink - mostly rotting seaweed from memory.

In Wikipedia it says "The Patawalonga River (sometimes called Patawalonga Creek, and known to local residents as "the Pat") is a short river (roughly 7 km in length) that was, before European settlement, a tidal estuary. The River is serviced by a 210 km2 catchment that exists in metropolitan Adelaide, with its mouth at the suburb of Glenelg."

It was to us just a waterway that one wanted to pass by as quickly as possible!  I find it a little amusing that this horrible stench was so 'famous' that it was written about in Wikipedia.

"The Patawalonga is probably best known for its notorious odour, which has been a problem for the "Pat" ever since European settlement since the mid-19th century. The odour arises from seaweed that grows in the shallow depths of the river estuary and, in more recent times, due to stormwater pollution.
Dredging of the outlet beyond the weir to remove sand and seaweed build-up would at times cause the seaweed to float back to shore and rot on the beach, causing a stench.[6]
Also, if too much fresh water flows into the Patawalonga it can kill off saltwater species of fish that exist in the lake - which, again, can result in an unpleasant odour."

Eventually a lot of work was done on the river and now days it is a fantastic lake, and though there have been recent floods, work has been done to reduce this in future.

Now it is a recreation lake - with people learning to paddle, and a safe place for boats and on a clear day looks wonderful.

It is also the home of the replica of the HMS Buffalo.  Again from Wikipedia - "Perhaps the most iconic aspect of the Patawalonga River is the permanent mooring there of a replica of the HMS Buffalo, which made the six-month voyage carrying the first 400 settlers to South Australia in 1836. The original Buffalo had also carried Captain Hindmarsh, captain of that vessel and, upon his arrival, the first Governor of South Australia. The Buffalo replica serves as a family and a la carte restaurant floating on the Patawalonga." 

My husbands ancestors were on the Buffalo along with some of mine as well.  Were we destined to be together - though these days I am solo.

It was also the spot that I would meet my parents when I visited Adelaide.  Dad did not like driving to the Adelaide Airport to collect me, so would wait near the Buffalo in his car.  I would get a taxi to the Buffalo, and join my parents!









Another icon of the Glenelg area is the tram.  Trams still ply their way from Jetty Road (near the old Town Hall - venue for dances when I was in my teens) right into the city and beyond these days.

Historic old tram near the Buffalo.