Saturday, 29 March 2014

Stratford Upon Avons of the World

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 

Did you know, there is more than one Stratford-Upon-Avon in the world?
The most famous, being the birthplace of playwright and poet 
William Shakespeare, 
 but Stratford-Upon-Avon, Victoria, 
is Australia's lesser known equivalent...

Well sort of...

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date . . . .  
"Sonnet 18," 1–4

Celebrating connections Stratfords of the World, Victoria
When you arrive in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Victoria, 
or as the Aussies prefer to call it, Stratford by the river,
you notice immediately, how proud the town is to be one of 
Stratfords of the World...

But apart from a big silver monument to sisterhood, a Shakespeare festival each year, oh and a river called Avon, they are worlds apart...

"The course of true love never did run smooth".  Midsummer Night's Dream (Act I, Scene I).

In my local Aussie Stratford, 
the township dates back to the Gold Rush in the 1850's. 
Old by Australian standards, 
but you don't quite get the spectacular heritage like you do in England...
They do it their way:Shakespeare with a twist! 

Stratford, Victoria Artists Walk
For instance what is this Aussie chap below doing?
He forms part of the Stratford Artists walk - Shakespeare through the Ages.
This is a 3km walk around the town
I guess you can find out more by hiring an audio tour, 
but when we were there, all the batteries in the Ipods (MP3s) were flat!

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks". Hamlet (Act III, Sc. II). 

Artists walk Stratford, Victoria with River Avon behind
Visiting Stratford Upon Avon, UK by contrast is to 
step back in time up to 800 years. 
I love the rich heritage and the William Shakespeare connection.
 I still shudder at the thought of my schoolgirl Macbeth,
but I can recall every word of Portia's Merchant of Venice speech!!

“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest..." 

Ok so I'm showing off now.. 

A couple of weeks ago, during my quick return visit to the UK, my brother bought Mum and I tickets to see Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre. He also bought us a night at the wonderful Arden Hotel and the next day we had a very successful morning of birthday clothes shopping! 

"I bear a charmed life". Macbeth (Act V, Sc. VIII). 

Our tickets were standing room only 
on opposite sides of the theatre,
which shows how popular the sell-out play is, 
not how much he loves us...

Standing room only, is quite an evening out. 
Mum had a rich burgundy velvet perch to relax back on 
and I had a bar to lean forward on
(but not the sort that served a nice Gin and Tonic...) 

Well by the time we had reconnected at the interval, 
Mum had made friends with everyone on her perch, 
and I had muscled in on a spare bit of perch on my side of the theatre
(thank goodness!!)

"Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee. Thou art translated" Midsummer Night Dream (Act 3, Scene 1)

Swan Theatre stage, Stratford UK
This photo above is looking down on the stage, 
the perch seats are to the left behind the wooden balcony
and if you look carefully you can see the bars to lean on...

Talking of bars, oh were we? 
Here is a quaint British Pub in Stratford. You can take your pick. 
On my previous visit to the UK I met my old University friends at Stratford,
It would be possible to do quite some pub crawl if you were so inclined... hic!

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." Hamlet (Act II, Scene II). 
Shakespeare is everywhere in Stratford Upon Avon, UK

It is the impressive Tudor architecture of Stratford, UK 
which makes it rather special, 
olde English tearooms abound, 
and you could happily wandered around for days admiring the setting...

"I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It (Act II, Scene IV).

Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK Public house

So off on the other side of the world, Aussie Stratford has one Avon hotel and bistro with a rather uninspiring mostly Chinese menu, 
but what they lose in setting and Michelin stars
they more than make up for in humour.
Here is the sign on the outside...

Aussie Stratford Upon Avon,

And another...

It is a probably a tad unfair to compare these two Stratfords? 

"To be, or not to be: that is the question". - Hamlet (Act III, Scene I).

Aussie Stratford would win hands done on the meteorology front.
My visit in 2012 saw the British town flooded!

Aussie, Stratford clearly likes to piggy back on the fame of it's elder sister in the tourism stakes...

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; 
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him". - Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene II). 

Aussie Stratford town views
There is an ideal opportunity for all Stratfords to celebrate,
 as next month is the 450th anniversary of the birth of 
world's most famous playwright, on 23rd April in 1564. 

You could always join us to visit the town for the upcoming Aussie
Let's Go!

Maybe if someone could remember to put some new batteries in their MP3 players and then the town will be ready!

“All's well if all ends well.” 

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour around the two Stratfords that I know, 
Do you have a Stratford near you?
Or maybe I should just finish now...?

“You speak an infinite deal of nothing.” 
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

"Brevity is the soul of wit". -  Hamlet Quote (Act II, Scene II).
Linking with Our World Tuesday. With thanks to our hosts

Linking with Alphabe Thursday S is for Stratford
Thank you to Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Thank you in advance for your comments 
which I love to receive.
If you are not on Google+ you can always contact me
via my e-mail link on the sidebar. 

Linking with Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Random, right and really spooky

Beautiful connections made 
through my ‘Grow Your Blog’ giveaway!

Hello - sorry to go AWOL* on you. 
I’m in England and I can’t wait to show you! 
She’s is looking good, 
dressed in a blaze of golden daffodils 
and people saying: 

“Aren’t you the lucky one? 
The weather’s so loverly since you arrived’ 

But right now before I do this, I have a BIG announcement to make…

In January, I joined Grow Your Blog Hop,’ the brainchild of Vicki at 2 Bags Full to put bloggers in touch with each other. One suggestion was to offer a giveaway, chosen from those who visit and leave a comment. About half the blogs did this.

I was tempted, there were some amazing prizes on offer… Then it came to me…

‘Be different Wren! 
Do a giveaway, but shush! 
Don’t tell anyone…’

Photo credit - Another Deep Day
This way anyone who comments on my GYB post, was visiting because they wanted to, not because they were chasing my million dollar prize - ha ha, in my dreams, but you get my drift.

I was just trying to figure out the random number generator that bloggers use to allocate such prizes, when the answer came to me - in one of those

Life’s brilliant moments…

Hello Wren,
Thanks for getting back to me - and for visiting my blog :)
Do you still need my mailing address for the giveway?
If so, here 'tis!
Lovely to find you and your blog :)
Midweek blessings, 

Well perfect I thought, here’s my winner! I quickly scribbled back...

Hi Claire
It’s your lucky day!  
I don’t have a giveaway, however as you asked so nicely :) 
I would love to send you a little surprise 
I am just about to head over to the UK and it will be really easy to post - LOL !!!

Photo Credit: Another Deep Day

I pressed SEND with a smile, suspecting how Claire was going to feel. 
It’s the little wicked in me… In a flash from the other side of the world this came back:

Oh my, 
Wren, I am so sorry! 
I get so confused on google+ 
and it was actually Heidi's giveaway I won.
I am so sorry, and wouldn't presume to ask for a gift 
- I'm mortified to be honest!!
With love and deep apologies, Claire x

Oh gosh Claire, I was hoping that she’d get my impish sense of humour? I loved getting to know her through her Another Deep Day blog.  Claire's impeccable manners, her desire to live each day deeply, and of course being a lifelong Liverpool FC fan, made her a worthy and courageous winner.

Hi Claire, please don’t apologise, 
I guessed that had happened!
 You gave me such a giggle and oh my, what a great idea,
 I thought I might try it myself…
  Perhaps you could do the same with the Premium Bonds 
and the National Lottery?
I wanted to offer a giveaway to one of my readers who I made a connection with… 
And voila! There you were. 
Don’t you just love blogging?
Spooky (as Dame Edna would say!)
Have a lovely day
Wren x

Bless you for being so sweet and gracious! 
But it will take me a while to not feel mortified...
You're right, though, the tinternet (as Peter Kay calls it!) can be spooky... 
the whole randomness - yet often rightness
of the connections we make...
It really is lovely to 'meet' you and I hope you have a fab trip :)
Claire x

Right, now the hard bit... what to send Claire? I decided in the end to send a 'Taste of Australia'. The Giveaway is below as is Claire’s response on her blog. 

Thank you to Claire for allowing me to tell the story and to use your photos.

Photo credit; Another Deep Day

This has to be one of the nicest parts of blogging, the beautiful connections along the way!

Please visit Claire at Another Deep Day and tell her a little bird told you to come. Here is Claire's post on receiving her giveaways (yes she won three!!) She’d love to see you! 

Have you made some spooky connections through the blogoverse? 

Photo credit: Another Deep Day
I have a question for you. 
I am going to be in New York next month 
and would love to meet up with a couple of New York bloggers that I follow. 
My kids say “No way, you can’t do that Mum”
Would you invite fellow bloggers to meet you 
in a public cafe, for a cuppa ?
Would that be fun and exciting to follow up on the connections
Or just random and inappropriate?

Let me know if you think it’s right?!

Thank you in advance for your comments 
If you are not on Google+ or wish to send me a private message 
you can always contact me
via my e-mail link on the sidebar 

Have a lovely week
* AWOL - Absent Without Official Leave

Linking with Alphabe Thursday: Letter R thanks to Jenny Matlock

Friday, 7 March 2014

Pottering around my (not so) marvellous Melbourne Summer Garden

Autumn?! You'd have thought that came weeks ago in Melbourne

That’s it, all over! The fifteenth hottest Australian summer on record in the past 100 years is behind us. The garden has struggled, leaves are frazzled and burnt. There is hardly a flower in sight and we are hoping for rain.

The world’s weather is topsy turvy. Whilst the East coast of America is well over their endless icy winter, and the British are wading through muddy flooded waters, NSW and Queensland are enduring a terrible drought.

This year our sun was so strong and the heat intense, we had six week of a summer garden and straight into an early autumn! If you watched the Australian Open tennis you will  remember tennis players suffering from heat exhaustion? That was when our garden suffered the most, but we can’t complain. Around Victoria bush fires raged, houses, crops and animals were lost. 

We went from a gorgeous garden to autumn orange cinders within two days of extreme heat. The searing temperatures continued (off and on, this is Melbourne after all!) through out January and February.

Our streets in January, plants wilted and scorched, leaves like autumn
Our house was bought in the height of the recent Victorian water shortages six years ago. We loved the pretty cottage garden reminiscent of our British homeland. One attraction was the garden already had a sprinkler watering system in place, a criss cross of pipes to ensure the garden remained lush and green. Within weeks of buying the State Government introduced strict rules on usage.  Only on even days of the week, and only at certain times of the day, early in the morning.

Responsible gardeners took action. Whilst the face of neighbourhood around us was changing, from pretty cottage gardens, to drought tolerant native gardens, and synthetics lawns became trendy, we held our resolve. 

Instead of ripping out plants and replacing, we added water saving features to help preserve the garden. 

We installed a water tank  to harvest rainwater for distribution across the garden. This tank is linked to our master bathroom, we can and would use rainwater to flush the toilets,  if we ever got into the next phase of water shortage. 

We purchased a grey water system and we recycle all the shower water straight out on the garden. We collect the water from three bathrooms, and pump it up to the top of the garden, where a gravity flow redirects it to which ever part of the garden, we determine is in most need. We have that many pipes in the garden! The brown pipes are the mains watering sprinkler system, the black pipes are from the grey water dripper system. 

Autumn leaves cover the ground in summer
We can also recycle the washing machine water if times get really tough! We are not currently doing this. Our water restrictions were lifted a few years ago and my current choice of "let's get the soccer kit white" washing powder, would not be too good for the plants.  

This summer for the first time in years, we used both the grey water and the mains watering system. We usually have around seven people at the house, so that is a lot of shower water - luckily we have also installed a solar hot water system, so we never run out of hot water in summer!!

Only the odd brave flower was flowering this summer
Whilst it is hard to find masses of pretty flowers… I did have a beautiful water lily come out in the pond, I took a picture of it although no-one would be believe it is all mine, and not the one from the Google screen saver!

My water lily, in our pond!
Our front garden we originally redesigned into a woodland garden, mostly as it was hard to grow much under the silver birch trees. We added a path and some wooden fence posts from Indonesia. We wanted to have an Asian flair to reflect our arrival into Australia from Hong Kong and China.

Front garden after a hard summer
When we renovated we added a pond in our back garden which I love. The sound of running water is very relaxing in a garden - well it would be, if we ever had the time to sit and do nothing! Our Chinese terracotta warrior stands on guard, for the times when the crazy poodle is taking a drink break!

I hope you have enjoyed a little potter around the garden. If you would like to see more of the garden at other times of the year, here are the links:

Melbourne Spring Garden
Our Australian Winter Garden

Thank you in advance for your comments 
which I love to receive
If you are not on Google+ you can always contact me
via my e-mail link on the sidebar 

Linking with the following
Thanks to  Jenny Matlocks Alphabe Thursday
P is for pottering in the garden!

Orange you Glad it's Friday - Thanks to Maria

Orange You Glad It's Friday

Mary at Little Red House Mosiac Monday
 and Todays Flowers