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

Monday, 22 August 2016

Don't jump off cliffs!

So Little Wren Sunflower Boy is in a hospital tonight,* he jumped off a cliff and perforated his eardrum. He's now sporting a very flash turban and gets jelly and ice cream for dinner.

It's a good way to learn that sometimes the choices you make in life have consequences. I mean just look at this dinner! We had a chuckle and said the one thing he should have done was put Pizza Hut down as his emergency contact number! 

Still, at least he's had his dinner, unlike me. I'm just sitting here watching his drip, drip and doing my very best to get everything sorted for him to have the most comfortable night possible!

Little Wren Boy is not so little anymore. He's well over six foot tall and I know I'm very lucky to have got our youngest kid, at twenty years old, to be the first to have had a night in the hospital. 

I've already been to see the ward Sister on several occasions. I'm trying not to ruffle too many feathers but.....

I started with the 'is there any chance we could have a bigger bed?' He is after all, virtually doubled up in a tiny bed? He doesn't like to complain... 

Unlike his not-so  Zen Wren mother

First off, I'm rather pleased with myself at having got him an upgrade to a private room. Why are all my family and friends rolling around on the floor laughing? C'mon you wouldn't have expected anything else would you from the Queen of Upgrades would you?!

The only problem is that this upgrade cost a bit. I knew my Trip Advisor reputation was not going to cut it with the check-in chick at The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital but now I have to confess to my husband that we're getting a $800 bill for the room for the night "Whaaaat?" I know he will say. 

I know he's going to tell me that our son will be drugged up to the eyeballs and won't remember the night that we splashed out enough for a posh suite in the best hotel in Melbourne. I can hear him saying now "that was a waste of money!!" 

Anyway, I'm rather pleased with my efforts thus far, because  we're in a public hospital with limited facilities for private rooms, which they tell us on arrival is usually kept for those with special needs, or those who go a bit loopy on the medication. Ha! I suspect they realised that this poor kid had special needs - his mother in full flight, in protective mother hen mode...

By this stage my son is feeling nauseous - or maybe it was me at the thought of having to confess to my husband what I'd just done...

'Any chance we can both have some anti - nausea medication?' I ask the nurse. She smiles, thinking I'm joking.

They wheel my son into his new room, which was a surprise as I was expecting a better bed. In fact , for 800 bucks I was hoping for a whole pillow menu and a chocolate on his pillow.

About the bed, I start! The nurse very cleverly pulls out the end of the bed for a slight extension and for the first time Little Boy Wren can straighten his legs and promptly falls asleep.

The nurse looks at her watch "Oh look it's ten past eight, it's time to go!," she smiles sweetly! 

* This was written on Friday, my son is now home from the hospital and making a good recovery!
Thank you for all the get well soon messages!

Linking with 
thanks to the hosts at Our World Tuesday


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Donut worry be happy!

My son was going into hospital to have surgery this week
and so I bought him and his sister doughnuts
as a pre-hospital 'do-nut worry, be happy' treat.

I mean they usually say the hole is the best bit 
because it has zero calories...  Oh well!

There is a doughnut craze sweeping Melbourne, voted worlds most liveable city 
for the sixth time consecutive year this week. I reckon it's our doughnuts that have clinched it!

I'm not usually nuts for doughnuts, but these were rather special don't you think?

Gone are the day of the old school jam filled doughnut,
these days a doughnut can be anything but plain
Gourmet is certainly in!

It was pretty hard to choose, the selection at White Mojo is awesome,  
but eventually, I chose a chocolate one for my son and a pink one for my daughter.
Or so I thought.

Little Miss Wren gets home first and eats the brown one
she later tells me it was sexist to buy her a pink one!
There were no complaints from Little Mr Wren 
but then he never got to see the chocolate one!

Which one would you have chosen?
Linking with Thanks to Darren at My Sunday Photo


Saturday, 13 August 2016

Always Hawthorn at the MCG

Five tips to always enjoy the footy!

I went to the footy last weekend at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), 
the first time in ages. But that's it, I'm not to be invited back again.

Our team and league leaders Hawthorn, suffered an unexpected loss to Melbourne. It was only their second loss of the season which was the only other match I'd watched this year. So I'm banned as "always unlucky" from all future matches!

We've been "Always Hawthorn" members for sixteen years now, although some of these were with overseas membership. My membership was dropped on cost-saving grounds a few years back by Mr Wren - number one Hawthorn fan, who claimed I wasn't committed enough! That's rich, as I've always enjoyed the footy - my way!

It's true, my favourite way to always enjoy the footy is to arrive after the first siren and leave in time to get a seat on the train home! It's a two and a half hour long match, waaaaaay too long for me. On a really good day we've got home to watch the final siren on the telly and enjoy the post match commentary!

Hot chips, to warm the hands on a cold winters day!
Here are my five tips to always enjoy the footy:

1. Always enjoy the not-so-fine dinning experience !

There is nothing that screams Melbourne winter more than hot chips and a pie at the Footy. Just don't forget the tomato sauce mate! Somehow it seems part of the fun to be ignoring all attempts at healthy eating when cheering on the buff athletes of your favourite team!

Having a pie at the footy - it's a "must-do!"
2. Always take time to learn the basic rules of the game!

Our Australian Football League is a strange game to those of us brought up with round ball football. Aussie Rules takes forever to learn the rules and somehow it always seems to deteriorate into fisticuffs! With me going "that's terrible, what do they think they're doing?" At which point there are more great snorts of disapproval at my apparent lack of support!

3. Always marvel at how great it is to enjoy a sport where the fans are generally better behaved than the players!

Having said that it is usually good natured between the fans. Despite the thought that those around me are going to have a heart attack, the passion of the supporters is evident. There is no such thing as football hooliganism here!

Melbourne fans go wild at every goal!
4. Always take time to appreciate the MCG stadium and all the sport offers: 

We sit in a mixed supporter stand at the 100,000 capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground. Even with only had 37,000 in attendance, the roar of the Melbourne crowd is phenomenal. All are welcome and they start young in this sport, we spot several babes in arms. At half time the field is full of young Auskick kids all having their first experience of kicking goals on the hallowed MCG.

Auskick kids enjoy the footy
5. Always dress appropriately:

Melbourne weather is cold at the moment and so wrapping up warm with a team supporter scarf is a must. Here is the Crazy Poodle modeling one from previous years. He looks so young!

I've got the Always Hawthorn scarf
but as 'always Hawthorn lose' when I go, 
I'll have to be an always watching hawthorn on the telly in future. 
That's ok I suppose!

Linking with thanks to all the hosts at Our World Tuesday


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Crazy Poodle and friends

Here's the Crazy Poodle with his shaggy winter coat left long to survive an outdoor Aussie winter. It's been chilly this week. I scraped frost off the car windscreen on Wednesday which is virtually unheard of here in Melbourne.

Mutt's happy to have been out for a decent walk, after a week where we were all office-bound, and he didn't get the attention he thought he deserved!

His elephant friends were found in the grounds at Merricks General Wine Store on the hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula.

Good things come in little packages!
We had walked from Red Hill South to Merricks Station Ground along the disused Rail Trail. It's a peaceful 6.5 km stroll past vineyards and pony paddocks 
through the pine trees and forests. We love this walk as it offers a different side of the Mornington Peninsula than our usual beach walks. 

It was great to arrive at the Merricks General Wine Store in time for a cuppa and cake. They have regular exhibitions at the adjoining Merricks House Gallery which showcase the talents of prominent Aussie Artists and Sculptors. These elephants above are by Matt Hill and are for sale if you have a spare $35,000.

It's a lovely forest walk through the rolling countryside
Highly recommended if you're in the area!

Linking with the following with thanks to 
Darren at My Sunday Photo


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Welcome To My August Madhouse

1. Beach boxes on the Mornington Peninsula! 

We've been at the beach this weekend for some much need 'away from it all' R&R. Or in my case R&R&R rest, relaxation, and recuperation. Don't these gorgeous beach boxes look serene and pretty? 

Take a lung full of that fresh salty air before you read on!

2. Life is busy at the moment. 

I find myself throwing all those balls I am juggling, higher and higher in a vain attempt to stop them crashing down at my feet - so far so good. If there is one thing that life has taught me, it's how to send a ball up into the stratosphere with a smile on my face and a 'see you next later' send off...

3. Has anyone noticed I've become a weekend Blogger?! 

My volunteer work with an organisation that supports over 3,000 people seeking asylum became a part-time locum role on July 1st. Which of course due to my complete incompetence at setting boundaries has become all encompassing.  There aren't enough hours in the day to do the job the way I want to do it. We do some amazing work with some incredible people and quite frankly why would you not want to give it your absolute all?

4. Meanwhile back at the ranch or mill!

It was looking like we were going to have everyone in hospital in August one way and another. Nothing too serious, just a combination of routine check-ups, to fixing a series of sporting injuries and misadventure. Not me, oh no. I'll be just the Ambo driver. 

Hmm, I might just have to stop for a coffee on the way in, tough luck if no-one else can eat or drink before their general anaesthetics... I'm going to need my sustenance for August. 

Either that, or knock me out too, and wake me up in September!

5. Hello. welcome pleased to meet you!

Plus of course into this Madhouse, we are about to welcome in three Japanese Homestay students for a couple of weeks. I love our homestay guests, but it does tend to have me operating like a full-on whirling dervish of home baked goodness and apparent serenity! 

Under normal circumstances, it takes a monumental effort to create the illusion of "Home Sweet Home." This time, I can see to pull this off, you might just find that I will be able to score an invite straight into the finals of our Australia's Got Talent TV show. 

Wish me well!

Linking with My Sunday Photo thanks to Darren at Photalife


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Birds at the beach

Surf's up!
We're slap-bang in the middle of Winter here
as these windswept birds on Sorrento surf beach show...
Hold on tight, Summer's coming!

Infact, Brisbane, Queensland had their hottest winter day for 70 years yesterday. The Sunshine Coast, only a two-hour flight away, enjoyed 31 degrees Celsius - 87°F
Beam me UP Scottie! 

Here in Melbourne 'the cold wind doth blow' and although we have not had snow, our Alpine area, only a three-hour drive from Melbourne, is having a fabulous snow season.  As they say, every cloud has a snowy lining, or something like that!

It seems like my family and friends in Europe are at last enjoying (sweltering?) with a bit of a heat-wave. But where ever you are, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Linking with thanks to Eileen at Saturday's Critters 

and Darren at Photalife


Monday, 18 July 2016

Magnificent Myanmar meets beautiful Bangladesh

We were given some gorgeous woven and hand stitched gifts from Bangladesh last week. 

The placemats and napkins are hand woven, the shopping bag has been hand-stiched. 
The work that has gone into these gifts is phenomenal. 
Don't you think they are beautiful? 

They were chosen for us from a shop called Aarong, a Bengali word meaning village fair. 
Aarong is a social enterprise which creates livelihoods for rural women. 
Aarong is dedicated to bringing positive change to lives of disadvantaged artisans, 
85% of whom are women
I have never been to Bangladesh, 
and I Iove having a touch of Bangladesh in our home this week! 

The nearest I have been to Bangladesh was earlier this year 
when we visited the neighbouring country of Myanmar. 
The sweet gifts reminded me of a visit we made to the lotus weavers at Inle lake.

loom at Inle Lake, Myanmar
At Inle Lake we watched women practice the age old tradition of weaving on ancient looking looms. There are many cooperatives of artisans around the lake who will welcome you into their studios.

When I admired the detailed needlework close up on the shopping bag 
and realising that each stitch of the is hand done, 
it got me thinking about the women who may have made these gifts. 
I thought they would probably love to know, how the thoughtful gift had been admired 
and looks perfectly at home on our table setting in Melbourne.

Myanmar women at village festival

Thank you to the women of Bangladesh
 who made these gifts and the wonderful family who purchased these ethically made handicrafts and brought them to Australia to give to us!
Our home is full of memories from various countries - is yours?

Linking with Our World Tuesday - Thank you to Lady Fi and all the hosts


Saturday, 9 July 2016

The whole world wants a piece of Paris!

Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world. So is it any wonder that other countries try to recreate a little of the Paris magic elsewhere? Take a look at the pictures of the Eiffel Tower below. Do you notice anything strange?

The Parisian Eiffel Tower, Cotai Strip, Macau
Yes, you're right to think it looks a little different. It's the new Eiffel Tower designed to bring the glamour of Paris to China! Well if they can offer copy watches and handbags on every street corner, you wouldn't expect an Eiffel Tower replica to be too tricky to rustle up, would you? 

The above photos are a half-size Eiffel Tower, one of the new landmarks of the soon to be opened hotel for Las Vegas Sands in Macau The Parisian: 澳門巴黎人

Below is the real deal. The Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars, Paris. The most visited paid monument in the world. It's iconic presence wherever found, is sure to bring a little magic to that corner of the world.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris
They say 'imitation is the greatest form of flattery' so Paris should be proud! What do you think? Here is my photo from my last year's visit to Paris when I was so excited to get that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower through the sunroof of the taxi... Sad but true, I do still feel the same way whenever I see a Kangaroo bounding through the bush here in Australia, like the Kangaroo to Australia, the Eiffel Tower is iconic France.

Eiffel Tower, Paris through taxi sunroof May 2015
So in the last few weeks, I have visited Paris in Australia, Asia, and Europe! Let me take you to where it all began: the Paris end of Whitehorse road, Balwyn, Melbourne, Australia. There is a little French bistro, Arthur Radley that we really rather like, with a sign proudly proclaiming:

'Welcome to the Paris end of Whitehorse Rd!'

Well, that was, as Dame Edna Everage, Australia's greatest living comic Queen would say rather "spooky" as I was just leaving for Paris, France!

Little did I know, it was going to be via Paris, China! We stopped off en-route to Europe for a 50th Birthday celebration. I love being back in Hong Kong, our previous family home. Macau is always interesting for me, having worked for Las Vegas Sands. At the time this was bringing Venice, complete with Grand Canals and serenading gondoliers to China, so it is no real surprise to learn that ten years on, Paris is coming to Macau!

The Parisian Eiffel Tower, Macau
Well, it is Paris, China style, they've been remarkably faithful to the original in Macau, but instead of the beautiful wrought iron lattice, they've gone for steel. The structure has had the benefit of modern engineering to ensure it stands up to the high winds of the annual typhoon season.

The 3,000 room and suite Parisian Macau is yet to be opened but the Eiffel Tower topping out festivities included a  dance-off between the French Cancan girls and a Chinese lion dance. It would have been a fascinating Easts meets West affair.

The Eiffel Tower through the gates of the Tuileries Gardens, Paris
What is the world most recognisable monument? Yes, it's the Eiffel Tower. Take these photos above and below, one little glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the background and you know you're in Paris!  It dominates the Paris skyline. I love the fact that rest of the world also wants a piece of Paris, What do you think?!

They say a brief holiday in Paris is forever in your memory. 
Well as I've been to Paris three times recently that makes me a very lucky girl! 

Linking with thanks to Phoebe at All About France