Monday, 17 October 2016

Ch… ch… ch… changes (turn and face the strain!)

Hello Dear Blog
I'm not ignoring you
There are some big changes going on around here and life is crazy busy...

I wonder if you can work out what it might be?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Grand Final Weekend!

It's a big weekend here in Melbourne
It's our Australian Football League Grand Final weekend.

Melbourne Visitors Centre - Flinders Street
Now our team Hawks (Hawthorn FC) were knocked out in a preliminary final
 by everyone's second favourite team the Western Bulldogs 
known locally as the Doggies!

Footscray Bulldogs Street Art
The Dogs have not made a Grand Final for fifty-five years.
Their opposition the Sydney Swans are no strangers to a Grand Final 
making for a fantastic Melbourne-Sydney tension. We love that rivalry!

If ever there was the time to use the expression the underdogs, 
it's this weekend. Go the Doggies!
The Western Bulldogs herald from Footscray where I work
It is such a great week to see the place decked in red, white and blue.

We have had overseas visitors this weekend and after a hectic week of travel ourselves, we are all happy for Melbourne's public holiday yesterday to celebrate Grand Final Eve. 
As we say only in Melbourne do we get one holiday to celebrate a horse race,
another for a footy match. Woof Woof!

We take our visitors into the city to see the sights and to watch the Grand Final Parade. Melbourne looked fantastic, it was a perfect spring day, warm and sunny and everyone, including all puppy dogs are in good spirits.

Grand Final Street parade, Wellington Street
Sport is central to Melbourne life, 
it is a wonderful way to bring people and dogs together. 

I am sure that every Bulldog in Melbourne 
was brought out for a special guest appearance!

Unfortunately, we left our crazy poodle at home
and for that, we're in the doghouse!

Go the Doggies!
Best of luck for today's Grand Final!

Linking with Saturday's Critters - Thanks Eileen
Blue Monday - Thanks Jeanne
Our World Tuesday - Thanks Lady Fi and all the hosts

PS What a screamer of a match - I think the whole country was in tears, one way or another when the Doggies won on Saturday. Brilliant match well done the Western Bulldogs!

If you have enjoyed this you may like to see the previous posts written about the Aussie Rules Footy

Happy Blue Ribbon Monday (2013)


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Beautiful Bangkok

Yoga on the Helipad!

We've just had an amazing weekend with dear friends in Thailand.
We stayed at The Peninsula, Bangkok
Which is a bit of a splurge, but they look after Little old Wren rather well 
and we end up in the most amazing Grand Deluxe Suite
Thank you Peninsula, Bangkok.

The Peninsula, Bangkok
It really is an extraordinary place to stay
and when I saw that they offered complimentary yoga on helipad
Well I'm there with a big fat Namaste!

We meet at the Fitness Centre, whooping 36 floors below
a mixed ability group of those who look like they know what they are doing, 
to destination yogics!
Destination on top of the world!

  We sign a massive disclaimer.
This probably says - does anyone actually read these forms -
that if we pop our clogs on the helipad it's not their fault.
Oh, but what a way to go.

Either that, or don't expect a complimentary air ambulance 
to rush you to the nearest hospital!
Ha ha.

So we are escorted by a lady dressed in black who all but mumbles 
into her walkie-talkie or cell phone, I forget,  
to a lift to the penthouse Paribatra room. 
We are already excited by what we are about to witness.
This is how the other half live indeed!

We are shown a small lift, you'd have to know, but then I'm guessing if you arrive or depart by helicopter you probably always 
have a nice lady with a walkie talkie to push your lift buttons!

The lift rises up through the final floors of the hotel till our feet are level with the ground, very James Bond like. 
You can just see it in the background above with the stripey roof.

We emerge blinking in the daylight onto the rooftop to the wow of 360 degree views of Bangkok's skyline. It was pretty amazing. 
You can't help but notice the large H on the floor
 H for help? I presume.

I needn't have worried, the instructor was skillful with her mixed-ability group.
Anyway you know what they say:
Yoga, is not about touching your toes
It's about what you learn on the way down!

That was some awesome yoga class and a memorable Bangkok experience
Thank you Peninsula, Bangkok!

Linking with thanks to the hosts at Our World Tuesday

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Problogger 2016 conference takeaways

It wasn't the best lead up to my first ever blogging conference...

Unprepared, overworked and knowing no-one, I rocked up Thursday evening to survey the scene at the RACV Royal Pines resort full of nervous trepidation.

Whilst experienced bloggers packed their conference essentials: cameras, computers and copious amounts of sparkling talent. I travelled light.
 Just little old me

Except that, I came with 20 kilos of addition baggage just in case, AND two non-blogging friends, happy to be my roomies for a girls Gold Coast weekend away. There was always that thought that I could always join them if required...

Not that I needed a blogging bolthole as it turned out, happily we all survived. Me with a big grin. My girlfriends got a much-needed break and I made some great new connections in the Aussie blogging world. Woo Hoo!

A billboard advertising the Australian Survivor TV show seemed rather apt!

Lesson One: Work out who you are and why you're of interest?

Leading a life where I'm often the new kid in town, I'm not adverse to the 'take a deep breath and introduce yourself' malarkey. But this time, It's not all about me and I'm not quite sure what to say.

I'm a crazy soccer Mum on Twitter, with a crazy poodle on Instagram, living in a Melbourne madhouse on my blog, but with enough emotional intelligence to sense this may not be exactly endearing to a room full bloggers searching for great social and professional connections... 

I had a few false starts, where I seem to remember describing myself rather rudely as a ditsy blogger, with the memorable utterings of 'my blog is just about my life' 

Before I gave myself a serious 'get a grip' talking to, and perfected my spiel to:
Hi, my name is Wren & I'm a personal blogger
Writing about my wanderings here, there and everywhere!'

I figured that gave me enough to say to sound like I knew what I was talking about, whilst giving the listener not the foggiest clue. Perfect - why does that quote on surprising, mystifying and misleading comes to mind?

Thanks to all the amazing sponsors: Principal sponsor Olympus 
Lesson Two: If you don't know 1 above, let others do the talking!

Some politely asked where I wandered, whilst others moved smoothly onto taking the safer ground of talking about themselves.  

Both responses I considered wins!

I listened to who they were and what they were wanting from their blogs and lapped up all the words of wisdom from the speakers before I came away with a list of inspirations a mile long.

Surfing the web at the Gold Coast
Lesson three: For virtual travel at it's best, 
dine with the travel bloggers!

On Friday night I ate pizza with the travel bloggers and met some awesome Mummy bloggers. A more impressive bunch of women you will never meet. Full of stories of travelling around the world with their families, juggling homeschooling, airports and a whole heap of affiliate links and appropriate sponsors with ease. 

Whilst we flitted from Colombia to Calcutta to Coolangatta without a single yell of 'Are we there yet? Or 'I need to poo' I smiled at their confidence and charisma and remembered when I arrived in Belgium twenty plus years ago, with a ten-day-old baby, a toddler and without even a 'Bonjour' of Flemish.

A quick flashback to my giant green double buggy that wouldn't get through the security barrier of my local Delhaize Supermarket, and I'm in awe of these Super Mums. 

Where was blogging back then, when I needed it? 

Keeping quiet about my roots in the crazy soccer mum world, I was happy to be flanked on either side by strong American women who'd landed on these distant shores having fallen for their Crocodile Dundee Aussie men. 

I'm more at ease with fellow first generation Aussies who can talk about their love of life and their love-life Down Under whilst in the next breath talking wistfully of their motherland.

Thank you to Problogger for a wonderful conference
Lesson Four: You don't need to have a perfect blog, or to have a well-formed plan, you just need to get your (excuse me for this) arse into gear,
and at the very least have your back end under control!

Ha! Such an Aussie approach to it all, which I loved. The kind of bottom line message was a 'no worries' approach meets 'Crickey! Get a grip.'

The greatest thing about attending Problogger was (unlike at other conferences) it is pretty difficult to tell across a crowded room, who are the most successful bloggers, or who has the words Top Influencer on their business cards.

I love the messages of the likes of Emilie Wapnick from Puttylike, that some of us are a little bit complicated and that it's ok to do, and be many things.

Indeed the written and technical skills needed to produce a beautiful blog do not transfer necessarily to amazing public speakers. But nor do they need to be, if you have a passion, a belief or something unique to say, your on-line audience will love you for this. 

Attendees at Problogger 2016, were primarily newbies and indeed from the one's I spoke to quite a few who were yet to start a blog. Which meant far from being the underachiever, the fact that my blog had survived the two-year mark, was an achievement. I'm giving myself a pat on the back for this ;)

I do need to get my design and my backend under control. I did not meet a single Blogger blogger. So at some point Word Press here I come... when I have figured it out  and when I have the time. If you have done this and have any tips for me, please let me know how you did it!
Bloggers find a possible post in everything!

Lesson Five: Create evergreen content

Only once did I get the unexpected response of 
'Oh how lovely, you must have a load of fantastic evergreen content with that?'
Of course, I agreed, making a mental note to do more gardening posts if the evergreen content is seen as desirable!
Evergreen view from our room

Ha Ha what a laugh ... oh well it seems I have quite a few things to work on 
Wish me well... Does anyone out there in blogland have their backend under control?! Silly me, of course, you do!

Linking with Blue Monday thanks to Jeanne at Backyard Neighbor
and the wonderful hosts at Our World Tuesday


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Twitter: Ditching the Mumsy!

Hello! Happy Sunday, today I’m in Queensland for the Problogger Conference. Problogger is my first ever opportunity to meet other Aussie bloggers on a mass scale - there are over 500 of us gathered for two days of networking, training and workshops. It gives me scope to reflect on my Little Wandering Wren journey and plan my future blog strategy.

I learnt many things over the weekend but one thing resonated with me most a quote from the Problogger founder Darren’s Mum which said 

Your life will be better of you take actions 
on the things, you like to avoid

I have been pondering for a while certain aspects of my:

 “Crazy soccer mum, trying to become Zen yoga mum” life.

The first being how appropriate is it to refer to myself as a Crazy Soccer Mum when my youngest is twenty years old ... and the soccer season is over! Perhaps there’s a small element (ok a massive, whopping element) of hanging onto a past identity, uncertain what to replace it with Does anyone else have these empty-nester identity problems?!

The second quote that resonated with me from Brian Fanzo at Problogger was

“To stand out from the digital noise , 
be the one thing that no-one can be, be yourself” 

Hey, easier said than done mate, I wanted to shout out! So who was I? 

I could be ‘Crazy Poodle Wren trying to become zen yoga Wren’ but that seemed a bit of a sad replacement, cute as the dog is and even though everyone in our household would say this is completely true!

Luckily I have two friends on the Gold Coast with me, so I asked them, what is Little Wandering Wren all about? This is what we came up with and bye, bye Crazy soccer mum and hello and welcome to my new Twitter wording @LWWren:

Little Wandering Wren’s birds-eye view from Down Under!

Well that should be suitably broad enough to carry on talking about whatever tickles my fancy:

  Just wandering around, seeing what there is to see 
… and enjoying life!

Now if any of you out there have any idea of what my blog is all about or even what it should be about and let me know! In the meantime Ta-ra!

Linking with thanks to Darren, from Photalife at My Sunday Photo
and Jeanne at Backyard Neighbor for Blue Monday

Monday, 5 September 2016

My blogging Inspo!

I write therefore I am!

Oh my golly, gosh this weekend I'm going to a Problogger conference. Not only that, but I've booked to have dinner with the Travel Bloggers! To say I'm going to be punching above my weight is an understatement. More about this later in the week, unless I've been knocked out cold, but for now the organisers are running a competition asking:
  • what inspires you to blog?
  • what inspires your blogging?
  • what about your blog inspires you?
  • what is the inspiration behind your blog?  
So I thought I'd have a go, as it is something which I am often asked. 
Shortly after the "Wow, I didn't know you did that!" (read 'could do that!')

I get a mixed reaction from friends and colleagues about my blogging. There is no doubt there are many in the nonblogging community who just do not get it! They see a solitary life, home alone, just me and my computer typing away. Waiting for some sort of sad validation from a whole load of worldwide random bloggers. All of us caught up in own virtual on-line reality, somewhat akin to an Ashley Madison secret life without the sex!

They may be right!  I put myself out there along with the other ‘pick-me, read me’ bloggers.   A risky move perhaps, except mine is an equally covert affair.  I am exposed, my social media secrecy levels may be high, but my privacy levels are set to zero!  My blog is like our Crazy Poodle, always there, with a shiny bright light and a wagging tail ready for action. 

1. I’m inspired to be creative! I love starting with a blank page and half an idea. It’s often such a leap into the unknown, an opportunity. Sure occasionally I sit down to blog with a purpose or to talk about something I want to get off my chest, something I want to share. Most other times I have no idea where my ramblings are going to lead.

2. I am inspired to be a photographer! I’m a low budget blogger with an IPhone camera. I have developed an eye for capturing something I want to share. Sometimes, just sometimes I’ll set up a mini photo shoot, generally with the dog and a bowl of treats, but mostly it’s point, click and publish! I love the fact that my blog costs me nothing, except time - it is truly the best value activity in my life!

3. I am connected, not only with people but also with technology! I get a buzz from knowing and understanding something techie, that others do not. I started as a non-Facebook user, computer illiterate with a barrage of kids saying ‘she’ll never understand Twitter, or how to work her iPhone!’ Well, look at me fly now over 1,000 followers on Twitter and over 175,000 visits to the blog! This might be small fry to the rest of the blogging world but to me, it is the world!

My Comms team at work suggested that I might like to attend social media training which of course I jumped at. Unfortunately, the idea was withdrawn when I gave them the above figures and told them I dabble bit! Oh that secret life of Wren, it does make me grin :)

4. I’m a storyteller! I once said I want people to come to my blog having no bloody idea, what they will find. I want to surprise and delight. I am not afraid to shock as my husband will tell you, he’s still getting over the time I had my knickers on the globe. Of course, they were my Victoria Secrets undies for the ‘I am beautiful’ post. But generally, I want to show my wanderings and my life in Australia and for my readers to leave with a smile :)

5. I am the Boss!  In a life where so much of daily life is out of our control, be it the terrible things we hear about in the news, or a life so jam-packed with busyness, my friends are often amazed that I add in the blogging. But I am firmly an ‘as and when’ blogger. I blog when I want to, at the times of day or night which suit me and my life. Sure we’ve (my blog and I) have had the odd battle when I’ve thought 'Ohh I’ve been absent rather too long'… but for the most part, I blog for me, at my timescales, not anyone else.

6. I am in contact. In Blogland there is always someone to talk to. I love the variety, the fact that at whatever time of day or night, someone somewhere in the world is awake and just might be looking for a distraction in their day. The fact that my writing and wanderings are of interest out there, is a constant source of incredulity and joy. 

7. I am knowledgeable. I can’t tell you how often I start a conversation with 'I read on a blog today...!' Whether it is what my American blogger friends think of Donald Trump, or the British Bloggers Brexit woes, or the floods in Alabama or the earthquake in Italy. One way or another, if it matters to the world someone will write about it.

8. I am happy. If anyone was to ask me my blogging niche, my answer would be “happy.” They don’t call me 'Miss Positivity' at work for nothing, but much as I would like to let rip on-line about certain issues whether it is my useless vacuum cleaner or the way we treat People Seeking Asylum in Australia, mostly I don’t. I want my blogging time, which is my me time to be happy and fun and for me to have a laugh. My blog is my happy place!

9. I am in touch! I love the connections across the world. I’ve had a fortunate life. I’ve lived on three different continents, four if I tell you I lived in America for two summers working and travelling as a Camp Counsellor when I was a student. I had an absolute fear that permanent residency in Australia, tucked away on the other side of the globe was going to be isolating. If I can’t be out travelling the world, then we will have the world come to us through the front door with our international students, guests and visitors and in through the blogging back door.

10. I am irrelevant. I love how relatively anonymous, how unknown I am on my blog. Sure I am told I need to be less of a shy blogger to make those connections, but generally, I don’t feel the need to do this. I love the anonymity. For me, I feel my blog is like ‘The Voice’ television show, you can judge me on my looks the slightly daggy Blogger style and my lack of a personal domain name if you want. I’m certainly the poor relation in the Blogging world. Or maybe you also take me at word value, or not. 

My blog world mirrors my personal life, always the new kid in town. I am shy yet excited, I am full of energy to see the world and to have the world come to me. Thank you dear blogging world you have given me so much.

“This blog post was written as part of a competition sponsored by ProBlogger, Shoebox Timeline, and The Good Guys.” See below to view my Shoebox slideshow!

Linking with Blue Monday with thanks to Jeanne at Backyard Neighbour
and Mosaic Monday thanks to Maggie at Normandy Life

Monday, 29 August 2016

Our Beautiful World!

It's such a beautiful time of year.
Take a look at this tree out the front of our house
It's bare leaves, standing stark against the blue sky
Just waiting to burst forth into spring!

Out in the back garden, it's anything but bare
Things have gone bananas!
Actually, the growth makes me smile. 
It seems so immediate, so free, so easy in the garden.
It's almost a pain, it needs tending and care.

Warning - deep and meaningful alert...

You see my day job is all about growth.
My work with people seeking asylum is all about personal growth.
The challenges of that when you may not have work or study rights,
when you have fled unimaginable horrors,
when you have left behind family and friends...
I see such immense courage, resilience, strength.

Just look what's appeared in my jungle!
Aren't these Arum Lillies beautiful?
Peaceful, calm and strong.

I'm working long hours. 
The work feels never ending, but so, so rewarding.
I love this quote, it sums life up perfectly.
'The secret to growth is helping others to grow' Julian Hall

I'm growing alright, and it's beautiful.

Just like these Australian native flowers that I treated myself to.
I took them out into the garden, to show their true colours.

I can't get that Cyndi Lauper song out of my head:
'I see your true colours shining through...'

PS I'm a little behind with all things blogging-wise at the mo, 
and now you know why! I will try and visit when I can :)

Linking with Our Beautiful World - Sunshine