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.

Semaphore and memories..............

I really can't recall much about Semaphore - though I know that as a child we visited.  I can remember that at Christmas time there was a fair of some sort with rides and sideshows on the foreshore. 

These days it is a rather quiet suburb of Adelaide with a load of history.

One story that I remember from one of our visits to Semaphore was that my father had gone to a fish and chip shop, and we sat down on the sand to eat the contents of the parcel wrapped up in newspaper as all fish and chip meals were in those days.  Having opened it up, and barely with time to admire the food contents - for it was a special treat for our family - Mum, Dad, my sister and I, - a seagull with a bowel problem flew overhead and pooed right in the middle of our dinner.  Oddly enough I can't recall what happened after that as I know Dad let off a few (tame) expletives in front of his girls, and I do think he got another meal, but I don't recall.

On this occasion we were seeking information on Bev's family who had been early settlers in Semaphore - she had a list of addresses etc and we managed to find some of the houses where her grandparents had lived back in the 1940's, and the building which housed a bakery which was family owned.

She went to the Library for more information and I wandered down to the jetty to take some photos.  It was very quiet - few visitors, though the shops along the main street seemed to be busy.

Looking out to see along the jetty.

The white sand beside the jetty.

From the jetty up the main street.

A Sculpture overlooking the beach.
One can catch a train from the city out to Semaphore, but we had a rental car from Aussie Car Rentals - I have rented a car from them many times and once again a good car was provided and again no problems with it.

On this day we also had time to catch up with one of our fellow nursing students from Mt Gambier Days in the 1960's.

My Mother - Ida Joyce Watson

The main reason I went to Adelaide was to see my mother and join with her to celebrate her 98th birthday.  It is quite amazing - she has outlived all her siblings, and their spouses.  There is no one left of that generation except her and she is in a nursing home - as she has dementia.

I have been unable to find out why she has dementia, but it may be because of high blood pressure.  (Note to self - get blood pressure down to "normal" level).  It seems it is hereditary.  Darn.

Dad did care for her until  mid 2010 - but she was a handful and I don't know how he managed.  He passed away in July 2011.  Sadly Mum did not attend the funeral, and seldom remembers that he has passed on.  She often tells us that he has been visiting, or is about to do so.  She often tells strange stories and we (her two daughters) find it hard to deal with.  If you tell her that she is not telling the truth, she will argue, and if you go along with the story you can find yourself in a conversation that is so confusing!  No win here.  On good days, though, she can remember quite a bit, and conversation can be very interesting.

She is in a two bed room - but mostly her room mates have been more incapacitated than her, and she often refuses to speak with anyone as she doesn't "know" them.  She does join in some of the activities in the home, but is just as likely to refuse to participate.

Her birthday was strange.  A small group of family attended - with a cake and wine.




It was a glorious occasion, but she found it difficult to believe that she was 98.  She thought about 91!!

When she was 70 years old she started to write her life story.  I have what she wrote and hope one day to finish off the story for her - for history's sake. 

 

Home again.....

Oh, how nice it is to be at home again!!!  As I said previously I had some regrets about not taking my laptop and my Canon camera - so now I have the task of  "catching up" with posts. 

A butcher bird has stood on my back fence and warbled a welcome home.  My garden is looking a little worse for wear (and lack of rain) but all plants will survive and I thank my neighbour for watering, but know that a good downpour of rain would have given the plants more enthusiasm to grow.   A tomato is nearly ripe, the lettuce has gone to seed - more work to be done.

But back to the stories of my journey.....

We stayed at Baybeachfront Apartments on North Esplanade at Glenelg.  Chosen for the convenience and the price.  You get what you pay for .... and while there were elements of disappointment we really didn't need to pay high prices for a bed for the night (or 7) and a place to prepare our food.  As it turns out there was some rebuilding around the pool area, and we saved a little more as we were given a discount.  Would I stay there again?  Unlikely.  But it well and truly served its purpose for us.



Walking around the area was rewarding.  Spectacular views around the beach and the Patawalonga Lake, especially early in the morning or late afternoon was always a treat.

One of the amazing houses on North Esplanade.

Another amazing house on the Esplanade.




We spent quite a bit of time in Jetty Road, Glenelg, though not spending a lot of money and one morning we caught the tram into the city and wandered around there - having lunch at the Adelaide Casino, and losing our $5!!!

In Jetty Road I found a kitchenware shop, HomeBasics and found an awesome collection of bamboo items.  Now, I already had a heavy suitcase and was reluctant to add to the weight - though well below what my allowance was on the airlines I was booked on.  However, I submitted to my urge to add to my collection and bought a Maxwell and Williams trivet, and with reluctance turned my back on other items.  (I do have a collection of bamboo kitchen tools!)



There is so much to see and do around this area that the week that we had did not do justice to it, but I had gone to Adelaide for one special reason.  My mother's 98th Birthday.