Tag Archives: Canberra

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th April, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week you’re in luck. I can offer you a lusciously fresh, Orange Buttercream Cupcake with raspberries on top. My husband dropped off a box of three to my parents and brother in Sydney on his way to work this morning. In keeping with social distancing regulations, he simply left the box on their doorstep, knocked on the door and was off. Mum had a lovely surprise. My Dad doesn’t like icing so his was plain, which looked like he was missing out alongside the rest. Dad was pleased I remembered, although Mum said she could’ve cut the top off. I warned her all that icing could have made her sick. It’s very rich.

cupcake box Pymble

Mum sent us this photo of the cupcakes we dropped off. As you can see, two of them had evaporated soon after delivery.

I’m pleased we got in touch. I haven’t seen them for a couple of months. We had to cancel a get-together for our kids’ birthdays because we had colds, not knowing what was to come. I should’ve pushed a bit harder and got something organized. However, you know how it is. You always think you have forever. Who could’ve predicted this was just around the corner?

I obviously don’t know how the coronavirus is impacting on you, your family and friends and community. However, I would love to hear from you and come together around this online cafe and share our experiences. I live at Umina Beach, just North of Sydney, Australia. The whole country is close to being at home. Most state borders have closed and in Western Australia, they’ve even set up regional zones for containing movement. This is really good, and it’s making life a lot easier for people who are at high risk of not only catching the virus, but also having a dire outcome. This, unfortunately, includes me but for once, I’m not alone. Most of the country is in the same boat and people are rising to the challenge.

At this point in Australia, the impacts have largely been economic and around 1 million people have lost their jobs. The government has responded by increasing welfare payments, but it’s hit some people very hard and losing your job is always painful. Fortunately, Geoff works in IT for a university and so far, so good. He’s an essential worker. He lost his job back in the GFC, so we went through this back then and know that pain and hope you and yours have managed to avoid it.

While still on the subject of Coronavirus, I also wanted to share something I posted earlier tonight….Every Home Is Now A Stage. As you may be aware, musicians and performers around the world have been posting free performances online with a view of lifting our collective spirits and so I decided to put a selection of these together to share with you. There are contributions from Jimmy Barnes, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the National Gallery and I had to include a clip of feeding a baby koala at Taronga Zoo, which made my heart sing.

KLM

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking part in the annual Blogging From A to Z  April Challenge. My theme this year is “Places I’ve Been”, which has a travel and photographic feel to it with a bit of introspection and philosophy thrown in. The alphabetical aspect to this challenge always makes it interesting, because there are always some letters where you have a plethora of options and it’s really hard to boil it down to one. Then, there are other letters where you really have to struggle to come up with anything and the results can feel quite random. I chose this theme, due to the current travel restrictions and I wanted to spread some joy. It’s also been very therapeutic to revisit these places myself and to realize that despite illness and parenthood, I am still a traveller.

Here’s are my posts for week 1:

Amsterdam

Berlin

Canberra

Devonport, Tasmania.

Have you been to any of these places? Or, perhaps you’ve lived there? I’d love to read any reflections in the comments below.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali.

We hope you and yours stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Canberra- Day 3 Blogging A-Z Challenge.

“The hardest thing about living in Canberra is that almost everyone who doesn’t live here asks: ‘Why on earth would you live in Canberra?’ Loudly, and in a way they would never use to discuss anywhere else. And they never listen to the answer.”

Judy Horacek, Cartoonist

Welcome to Day 3 of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

Today, we’re leaving Europe behind and leap frogging across the globe to Australia’s capital city, Canberra, which started out as a city in the sheep paddocks and has evolved into a dynamic cultural centre despite, or perhaps because of the politicians. Indeed,  “Canberra” is often used to refer to all things political going on down there, becoming an entity beyond place.

Parliament House, Canberra

However, before Canberra became “Canberra”, the indigenous Ngunnawal and Ngambri people had been living in the area for thousands of years and the name ‘Canberra’ is said to be derived from an indigenous word meaning ‘meeting place’.

Canberra only rose to fame after Australia’s six states and two territories federated to form Australia. As there was intense rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne  to become the nation’s capital, it was my understanding that it was decided to locate the capital   half-way in between in Canberra. However, it turns out that at a premiers’ conference in Melbourne in January 1899, NSW Premier George Reid won support for the capital to be located within his state. However, as a trade-off, section 125 of the new federal Constitution specifically stated that the capital  could be no less than 100 miles (160 kilometres) from Sydney. In the meantime, Melbourne would act as the interim capital. The first Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne on 9 May 1901. However, Federal Parliament didn’t move to Canberrra until 1927.

Don’t you just love politics!

However, when we’ve gone to Canberra, it’s had nothing to do with politics. Rather, we’ve always been driving back from the snow, and were more interested in its museums.

Being the nation’s capital, it’s home to the National Gallery (art), Questacon (Science), and the Australian War Memorial, which I’d place on an equal footing. However, I doubt the rest of the family would concur and no doubt our teenagers would want to see more than galleries these days.  I also wanted to mention that both our kids went on what’s known as “The Canberra Trip” when they were in primary school. It’s a right of passage (at least around here) and it’s a big excitement for them to head off in the coach with their friends, and an emotional time for their parents as the coach leaves.

Obviously, all three of these museums are currently closed due to the Coronavirus. However, perhaps this will inspire you to visit later. Alternately, these brief stop overs might satisfy your museum urge while you’re in social isolation and I’ve actually been able to provide links to online exhibitions. So, I’m pretty chuffed, and am not such a bad tour guide after all!

Last Post Ceremony

The daily Last Post Ceremony, which is held at the Pool of Reflection. Geoff and the kids presented a wreath in honour of Geoff’s Great Uncle, Pte Robert Ralph French who was killed in action in France. 

The Australian War Memorial

“Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we

guard the record which they themselves made.”

– Charles Bean, 1948

For anyone with a passion for history, I strongly recommend visiting the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, especially if you have a family member who served in any of our armed conflicts, or even if you simply want to know how war has impacted our people on and off the battlefield. It’s absolutely riveting. Indeed, I believe we’ve been there three times as a family, and each time we’ve stayed much longer than intended and had to tear ourselves away. Moreover, now that my research into Australians serving on the Western Front during WWI has taken off, I could probably spend the rest of my life in this place and not blink an eye. Indeed, if I snuck down while the place is in lock down, nobody would even know I was there…!

Over the years, the Australian War Memorial has moved from being a physical, concrete entity and added an online counterpart, which is an invaluable resource. I am particularly grateful for this, as it’s not that easy for me to get down to Canberra and it’s so much easier to click on links online than combing through boxes of files.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the museum itself, please click Here.

Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre.

Questacon is like a huge playcentre for science and engineering nerds. Yet, I also managed to find my own niche as a photographer by capturing the freaky lighting effects on film. That was a lot of fun and really extended my powers of perception (see above).

DSC_8120

Of course, that wasn’t why it was there. Besides, I love science anyway.  It’s just that some of it can get beyond my pay grade, or is in areas I’m not interested in and that’s okay. We don’t have to love everything.

lever

By the way, I should also mention there’s a great shop at Questacon. If you’re getting a bit sick of wearing Pyjamas everyday, perhaps you’d like to splurge on a Questacon lab coat?

Questacon Lab Coat

 The National Art Gallery

The National Art Gallery has made my job a lot easier, and is currently holding a couple of online exhibitions. So, I’d love you to join me for:

Matisse & Picasso

Australian Artist Hugh Ramsay

download

Hugh Ramsay: The Sisters, Art Gallery of NSW

In case you’re unfamiliar with Hugh Ramsay’s work, here’s a brief intro posted by the gallery: “Hugh Ramsay (1877–1906) was an accomplished Australian artist whose portrait paintings achieved success here and in France before his untimely death at the age of 28. This retrospective, the first to focus on Ramsay in more than a quarter of a century, brings together paintings, drawings, sketchbooks and letters from collections around the country to celebrate his achievements.”

In terms of their regular exhibits, my favourite is Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Series:

Ned Kelly Nolan

Well, that concludes our very brief gallery tour of Canberra, but I’ve left you with plenty of places to wonder off to online if you follow through to the links.

Have you ever been to Canberra? What were your favourites? Please leave your thoughts and any links in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share: Halloween Edition

If we were having coffee, or even a cup of tea this weekend, you might want to bring some earplugs and a chill pill. Two kids dosed up on Halloween sweets, can be rather disturbing. A Halloween all of it’s own.

How are things going at your place? I hope you’ve had a great week and I’m looking forward to popping over for a chat.

Yesterday, I went trick-or-treating with the kids and a few of their friends. This is the one day each year where we roam up and down the street meeting the neighbours and it’s pretty fun. Shame we can’t do that more often.

Here’s our post about Halloween in Australia:https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/an-australian-halloween/

Zombie Eyeballs

Zombie Eyeballs

While enjoying the fun side of Halloween, I’ve also been conscious that real life has enough horrors of it’s own and you don’t need to make up ghosts, ghouls and other nasties to know there’s evil in our world. We have had a dreadful murder case involving a young Mum and her daughter unfolding over the last couple of weeks: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/when-horror-is-real/ This reminded me yet again that:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Girl in a suitcase

Girl in a suitcase

So coffee at my place can get a bit philosophical. I might be in my 40s but I still believe in changing the world.

Speaking of which, I has fun doing the 3 Day Quote Challenge this week. My quotes were:

Day 1: The Apache Blessing

“May the sun bring you new energy by day,

may the moon softly restore you by night,

may the rain wash away your worries,

may the breeze blow new strength into your being,

may you walk gently through the world and know

it’s beauty all the days of your life.”

Day 2: Learning to Fly

“Come to the edge,” he said.
They said, “We are afraid.”
Come to the edge,” he said.
They came.
He pushed them…and they flew.”

― Guillaume Apollinaire

Day 3: A.A. Milne- Christopher Robin.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”.

On a more positive note, I’m pleased to report that our dog Bilbo is recovering from his flea allergy and his skin has pretty much cleared up over the last week. That was such a relief as I was very concerned. It’s going to take awhile for his tail to grow back but he’s otherwise well…but very, very hungry. The vet did warn me that he’d be hungry and if you have ever seen a Bordfer Collie on a mission, you could just imagine how I’ve been stalked all week and he’s been staring at me like a famine victim. I’m lucky he hasn’t eaten me!

Personally, my long-standing cough seems to be on the mend and my ongoing efforts to reduce the prednisone I take to treat my auto-immune disease has taken another step forward. As of Friday, I’m down to 8mg. This is about as low as I’ve been without having a flare so I’m hoping the new support medication will cope with the drop. My doctors are pretty confident and I’m feeling hopeful. Fingers crossed!

Our Family at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra in 2014.

Our Family at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra in 2014.

Tomorrow, our son leaves for his Year 6 Canberra Excursion. This excursion is a rite of passage for our Primary School kids and they get the opportunity to visit Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial and our national Science Museum, Questacon and many more. My husband has expressed concern about how the teachers are going to put up with a whole busload of kids dosed up on Halloween lollies and we’re tried to keep Mister lolly free today. All those colours are not good news!

Parliament House, Canberra...Photo Wikipaedia.

Parliament House, Canberra…Photo Wikipaedia.

Anyway, that about sums up our week. Hope you and yours have had a great week.

Now, how about you go and visit Diana at Part-Time Monster http://parttimemonster.com/ 

You’ll probably also enjoy a guest post by Corina on The Day of the Dead or  Dia de los Muertos http://parttimemonster.com/2015/10/29/corina-on-dia-de-los-muertos/

Here is the linky for the Weekend Coffee Share: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=577537

Love & Blessings,

Rowena

Australia During WWII…What I learned from My Son’s Homework.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been very preoccupied with my son’s project on an Australian Prime Minister, which I suspect feeds into his upcoming Canberra Excursion. The Canberra Excursion is a virtual rite of passage for Australian school kids close enough to get there. In case you’re not aware, Canberra is Australia’s capital and where we herd our Federal politicians.

When we discussed who he should choose, I suggested Prime Minister John Curtin.I am a Curtin and all my life, people have asked me whether I’m related to John Curtin. Indeed, it only dawned on me recently that all those questions had stopped. These days, I usually go by my married name.

Well, as it turned out, we are related to John Curtin , just not Prime Minister John Curtin. Ous was an Irish sailor from City of Cork, County Cook who worked his way to Australia as ship’s crew.Last year, we had a family dinner honouring that John Curtin and while that wasn’t this John Curtin, at least there was a link for me.

Prime Minster John Curtin served Australia during those horrific years of World War II where a Japanese invasion looked imminent and the Germans weren’t far away either.Just to put you in the picture, he came into office on the 7th October, 1941, only six weeks before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, launching The Pacific War. The stress of the war had a huge toll on Curtin’s health and he ultimately died in office on 5th July, 1945, only a few months before the Pacific War ended. So, you’d have to say that his time in office was one enormous stress pill and I am really struck by the huge personal sacrifice he made, in effect, dying for our country!

While acknowledging it’s horrors, it is a fascinating period of history, especially when you look at it through a contemporary perspective, not hindsight. After all, life is lived going forward and there’s no crystal ball to see into the future. No one knew in 1942 how the war would turn out. Who would win. It is all too easy to forget that now. I personally find it interesting to see how people react under such stress, what they were thinking and how they get through. These are important life lessons that we can carry forward and a critical reason for studying and really knowing our history.

Anyway, as you can obviously sense my undisguised enthusiasm about to blow a gasket, this brings me to the awkward question of just how much a parent should be helping their kids with their homework and in particular, home projects. Should the kid be left to do it “all by myself” or is it okay or even a good idea for parents to “help”?

As I’ve found out, the answer is not so clear cut.

While I don’t believe a parent should be doing their child’s assignment in total, I do believe that being able to give them that one-on-one support at home, can really boost their learning experience, especially if they are having any troubles. Perhaps, a parent or grandparent has a bit more time to sit down and explain things one-on-one like a personal tutor and personalise that help, in a way that a teacher in charge of a class of students, can not.Having that older perspective, particularly if they’ve lived through that period in time, can also add insights and make history feel more real. It’s hard to have that sense of history when you’re 11 years old.

Moreover, learning how to process information and put it together in a report is a challenging process. I did Honours in History at University so I am well equipped to help. Just don’t ask me to help him with his Maths. Thank goodness that’s his strength and he could no doubt help me.

Yet, at the same time, there’s also that fine line between guiding and taking over. Of course, we’ve all heard parents talking about “our assignment”, “we scored” or even “I got an A in their last project”.

There has to be be a middle ground but when “your pupil” is watching TV, playing computer games and looking like those lollies weren’t a good idea, it’s all to easy to just push them out of the way and “do it myself”…particularly when I’ve been avidly interested in this period of history since I was a 13 year old school girl reading The Diary of Anne Frank.

But to quote John Curtin himself:

Prime Minister John Curtin: “The game is not lost – or won – until the last bell goes.”

Perseverance isn’t just something for kids. It’s also for grown-ups.Sometimes, it takes a lot to stand back and let our kids do it themselves. Sink or swim. Yet, even if we have to tie ourselves to the chair just as much as we long to do the same to our kid, it has to be done!.

However, does that mean we should stop our own learning experience? After all, these school projects can be fascinating once you’re mature-aged. I know myself how I’ve become embroiled in the John Curtin Project and have taken off like a hound chasing the fox through the undergrowth. If only I’d studied like that with the research skills I have now, I’d be a complete genius.

But…

That doesn’t entitle me to do my son’s project for him.

Thank goodness for my blog because I’ve been able to do my own project, which I’m still working on.

Moreover, through working through John Curtin’s term as Prime Minister on my own, I also realised that I wanted him to learn some valuable stuff, which wasn’t directly part of his project. I wanted him to gain some understanding of the socio-political context of the Prime Minister he was studying and not just parrot off dates or cut and paste stuff from the Internet. I wanted John Curtin to go through those two eyes, two ears and pass through his brain and fire off a few neurones on the way.

That’s what I call learning. Getting an education.

I didn’t grasp that when I was 11 either but we adults all live in hope that somehow we can improve the next generation in areas where we fell short.

Mister has been away at a Scout camp all weekend and while the project is almost finished, it’s now down to the final countdown and really making sure that he’s answered the question and nailed it. Thank goodness, he’s had a nap and recovered somewhat as the hard yards lie ahead  and I’m not sure who is going to struggle most…him or me.

How have you gone with the kids’ projects? Or, if you’re a teacher or educator, any advice?

xx Rowena