Tag Archives: travel

Beyond Wisdom… Friday Fictioneers

Grace was longing for a crystal ball. Desperate for clarity, she’d finally decided to see a psychic, even if it was the Devil’s work.  After all, it had to be better than pouring the last remnants of hope down the pokies, especially now her winning streak was gone.

She handed over her last $50.00 note to Madame Sahara Rose. Fingers crossed.  

“You’re going to fly the trapeze and find romance.”

Grace snatched her money back.  That was enough bullshit to bury her alive.

Instead, she accepted the job on board the Ruby Princess. How could a cruise go wrong?

….

99 words Photo thanks to J Hardy Carroll.

For the last year, I’ve been researching WWI and especially the bios of individual soldiers in detail. I’m repeatedly struck by the mix of random chance, good and bad luck and also how our own choices influence our fate in both good and bad ways. I’m also interested in how we can often shoot ourselves in both feet and make matters worse, instead of improving our lot. Over the last period of time, I’ve also notice people say: “It is what it is”, as though there was nothing they or anyone or even God or science could do to improve things. Our fate isn’t etched in stone. We can make better or worse choices and unfortunately this character whose life was already down the toilet, ended up on the cruise ship which spread Covid 19 around Australia. Hopefully, this will be her turning point.

This has bee a contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. https://rochellewisoff.com/ Please forgive my clumsy links here. I’ve been forced over to the new block editor and am lost in the undergrowth.

Best wishes,

Rowena

S- Sydney Harbour…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome back to my travel series for the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, Places I’ve Been. Today, we sail into glorious  Sydney Harbour, undoubtedly one of the most stunningly beautiful places we’ve been so far, and for me, it’s home. Well, not exactly home, as I’ve never had the privilege of living right on the Harbour. However, it’s close enough.

Rowena Sydney Harbour Bridge

This photo was taken at Lavender Bay on the Northern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and you can see the ferris wheel at Luna Park beneath the bridge. As you can see, I wasn’t too well when this photo was taken. 

Today,  our journey sets out from Circular Quay. On our left, there’s the grand spanning arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, colloquially known as “the Coathanger” and on the right, we’re chugging past the majestic white sails of the Sydney Opera House. All of this is jaw-droppingly beautiful. However, for daily commuters heading across the bridge on the train, the harbour is often little more than a fuzz while they’re reading the newspaper, tinkering on their phones or simply trying to keep their noses free from a stranger’s armpit.

Soon, we pass a small island, Fort Denison which is a former penal site and defensive facility occupying a small island located north-east of the Royal Botanic Gardens and approximately 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) east of the Opera House. The island was formerly known in its indigenous name of Mat-te-wan-ye, and as Pinchgut Island. I’ve never been there. However, my mother took each of our kids there when they were younger for a special lunch.

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A yacht sailing on Sydney Harbour viewed from Mosman.

Oh dear. I’m not too sure where we should proceed and it’s impossible for me to point out places on the left and right of the harbour with such a vast expanse of water in between. Particularly, as you may recall, when I’m so spatially challenged and really don’t want to screw it up.

So, being ANZAC Day where Australia commemorates it’s service men and women who’ve served during all armed conflicts, I thought I’d stop pointed out the window and jump in my time machine instead. Take you back to the evening of the 31st May, 1942 when the Japanese Imperial Navy sent three midget submarines into Sydney Harbour from larger submarines which were lurking outside the heads. These midget submarines were built for stealth, barely squeezing in two crew members each.

Midget sub attack Sydney harbour

Japanese Midget Submarine in Sydney Harbour.

The first midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at 8pm, but got caught up in anti-submarine nets and attracted the attention of the HMAS Yarroma and Lolita. Once they realised they’d been caught, the Japanese crew activated an explosive, deliberately sinking the vessel and killing themselves.

The second managed to sneak past the nets and fired two torpedoes, which hit a Sydney ferry, killing nineteen Australian and two British naval officers. It then received fire from a number of Australian vessels and managed to escape, but never made it back to the mother sub.

The third and final midget sub entered Sydney Harbour at around 11pm. By this time, Sydney was ready. It had six depth charges (anti-submarine weapons) dropped on it, and was presumed sunk, until it made a comeback four hours later and tried to fire its torpedoes.  Since it was pretty banged up, the attack was a bust and the submarine was sunk by allied ships at around 3am 1.

Clearly, these attacks caused a bit of excitement.

Two years after the war, the story of a Japanese pilot appeared in the paper. He’d flown a Zero straight through Sydney Harbour undetected the night before the midget submarine attacks. Not a comforting thought, especially when you consider that the attack came around 6 months after surprise Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on the 7th December, 1941. These were very dangerous and precarious times and when you look at the bridge, the Opera House and the bright blue water on a sunny day, it’s very hard to imagine that the war ever touched our doorstep..

It reads:

ATTACK ON SYDNEY – Japanese Story Of 1942 Raid

AUCKLAND, Tuesday (A.A.P.-Reuters). – Susumu Ito, proprietor of a little fish-ing tackle shop at Iwakuni, Japan, claims that he flew over Sydney Harbour the night be-fore the Japanese midget sub-marine attack on May 30, 1942. Ito, then a Japanese naval lieu-tenant, aged 24, told his story in Japan yesterday.

This is what he said:

“I was pilot of a Zero float-plane carried by a Japanese ocean-going submarine of 3,300 tons.

“We arrived off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), in pitch dark one morning late in May, 1942. Our submarine carried midget submarines which were designed to be used to attack naval ships at Auckland and Sydney.

AUCKLAND SLEPT

“Our warplane was launched from the submarine and I quickly reached Auckland. While the city slept I cruised overhead un-molested and never climbing above 1,000 feet. I was never challenged or disturbed by intercepting fighters.

“I soon located Devonport Naval Base and gave it special attention. For the better part of an hour I looked for warships, but found no-thing that would warrant attack by one of our midget submarines.

“I flew back to the mother sub-marine and reported that there were no warships at Auckland.

“The submarine commander then decided to proceed to Sydney. We crossed the Tasman and surfaced off Sydney Heads on May 29.

FLIGHT OVER SYDNEY

“Unlike Auckland, I found the Sydney air rather crowded. There were Australian planes doing night flying exercises, but I was not molested.

“The Australian pilots did not appear to notice me, although the long streamlined single float of my Zero should have been conspicuous.

“I sighted what I considered to be suitable targets in Sydney Harbour and lost no time in returning to the submarine and making my report.

“Midget submarines were released. Later I left in the mother submarine for Rabaul,”

Ito said he spent about an hour over Auckland. His flight over Sydney was “very much briefer.” Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 16 July 1947, page 1

So, that all created a bit of excitement.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House viewed from a ferry looking East.

Perhaps, we’d better we’d better exit our time machine and go back to looking out the window. It’s a perfect, sunny, Sydney day.

Have you ever been to Sydney? Did she behave herself? Or did you experience four seasons in one day and possibly even a bush fire thrown in? I love you Sydney, but like all of us, she isn’t perfect.

Best wishes,

Rowena

References

Forgotten Sydney – The Attack On Sydney Harbour

https://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/japanese-midget-submarine-attack-sydney-harbour

F- Florence…A-Z Challenge 2020.

Welcome back to my series on Places I’ve Been for the 2020 Blogging A to Z April Challenge. Today, we’ll be heading over to the magnificent city Florence – birthplace of the Renaissance.

Writing about any city is intimidating, especially when you’re writing to the scope of this challenge which is all about short snappy posts and moving onto the next one. It’s meant to be more that those flashes of passing scenery you see through the windows of a passing train, than a much more considered absorption of each monumental treasure along with that quixotic sounds and aromas unique to that place.

Of course, when it comes to summing up Florence’s grandeur and inimitable history, it’s an impossible task.

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How serene…An early morning perspective of Florence.

 

“Stand on a bridge over the Arno river several times in a day and the light, mood and view changes every time. Firenze is magnetic, romantic and busy. Its urban fabric has hardly changed since the Renaissance, its narrow streets evoke a thousand tales, and its food and wine are so wonderful the tag ‘Fiorentina’ has become an international label of quality assurance.”

– Lonely Planet

So, I’m doing what I can. Almost 30 years down the track, I’m trying to remember my Florence. The Florence I experienced in August 1992 as a 22 year old backpacker who was simply visiting for a weekend. It’s not much to go on but armed with a handful of photographs I will press on.

Rowena Santa Croce

Perched on the stairs outside Santa Croce. 

The very first thing I remember about Florence was the heat. I felt like I was inside an oven, when for an Australian quite accustomed to the heat, says a lot. I also remember seeing luscious gelato stores. Gelato in an entirely different league from the pre-packaged stuff you could buy from the local pizza place. The colours were so bright and the gelato so luscious, that even after all this time I’m still salivating and staring through the crowds with puppy dog eyes. Drats! The life of a backpacker living on the smell of an oil rag is pure torture, especially being immersed in such temptation.

My view of Florence is from the street. It’s hot. Crowded. I want gelato, but initially go without (although, of course, you know I later succumbed.) The other thing is that as a young, single woman, I was also an unwitting target for Italian men who clearly saw the pursuit of female tourists as a national sport. However, it made such a difference to have my own personal tour guide. If I can offer one piece of travel advice, it’s “go local”.

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My gut feel is that I didn’t rush to the Duomo, even though that’s where my heart flutters whenever I see an aerial perspective of Florence and the Duomo hovers overhead like a proud mama bear. Located in Piazza del Duomo, Florence Cathedral was formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Construction began in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The magnificent dome, which dominates the exterior, was added in the 15th century on a design of Filippo Brunelleschi. If you’d like to read more about the architectural aspects of the Duomo: Click Here. This is also a good Link.

Birth of Venus

What always comes to mind when I reminisce about my trip to Florence, is seeing Bottacelli’s Birth of Venus for the very first time in person and it was electric, and even exceeded the gelato. I actually bought my very own print of the Birth of Venus, which says quite a lot on my backpacker budget.
Michelangelos-David

Michelangelo – The Statue of David

Michelangelo’s Statue of David housed at Florence’s Accademia Gallery is well-recognised as one of the greatest artistic masterpieces of all time and well described in the words of Giorgio Vasari:

“When all was finished, it cannot be denied that this work has carried off the palm from all other statues, modern or ancient, Greek or Latin; no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelagnolo finish it”.

Giorgio Vasari

I feel very privileged to have seen this statue in person and from right up close. How amazing. Of course, it’s not the same as meeting Michelangelo himself or seeing the artistic genius at work, but it is enough to walk amongst his shadows here in Florence and traverse the streets he trod hoping that one day I would find my own angel sealed inside my very own metaphorical slab of marble. After all, I was still so young with all the world at my feet and my dreams, weren’t perceived as dreams but imminent destinations and my ticket was there ready in my pocket. Many times, I’ve wanted to jump into my time machine and be that person again. My faith might have been blind but it was real.

Michelangelo’s Tomb

Memory tells me very poignantly, that I also visited Michelangelo’s tomb. Even 30 years later, I still remember standing by his tomb as clear as day and having my photo taken by my local tour guide. That’s monumental. Over the years, I’d forgotten the name of the place or that Michelangelo wasn’t the only incredible mind buried here. Michelangelo is buried in Santa Croce, as are RossiniMachiavelli, and the Pisan-born Galileo Galilei, who was tried by the Inquisition and was not allowed a Christian burial until 1737, 95 years after his death. There is also a memorial to Dante, but his sarcophagus is empty (he is actually buried in Ravenna as he was exiled from Florence). However, I’ve just scanned in my photos and when you read the inscription, you’ll see it’s actually Dante’s tomb! So, my memory isn’t so good after all.

By the way, if you’ve like to read the gripping story of Michelangelo’s Tomb, click here.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Veccio

“Among the four old bridges that span the river, the Ponte Vecchio, that bridge which is covered with the shops of jewelers and goldsmiths, is a most enchanting feature in the scene. The space of one house, in the center, being left open, the view beyond, is shown as in a frame; and that precious glimpse of sky, and water, and rich buildings, shining so quietly among the huddled roofs and gables on the bridge, is exquisite”.

– Charles Dickens

As our tour continues, it’s still stinking hot and full of bodies. I also remember walking across Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River. It was in these shops and markets that all reservations about spending money blew up in smoke and I blame my maths. Back in 1992, we still had the lire and I’ve forgotten what the formula was but I certainly mucked it up and goodness knows how much the leather wallet purse I bought actually cost. In the long run, it didn’t really matter. It was pickpocketing in Thailand on my way home.

These memories comes in no particular order, or perhaps they do. I’m not sure. I’m just finding my way back along the corridoors of memory the best way I can and perhaps I should Google a map of Florence and put things in their rightful place and in a neat little sequence. However, that isn’t me and doesn’t evoke that same sense of travelling by feel and intuition (along with the assistance of my local guide).

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It is my local tour guide who took me out to a local monastery which, much to my amazement, produced Ouzo. I haven’t remembered the name that monastery, even though I sort of remember driving there and more clearly remember having a small glass of clear liquor, which had been made on location by the monks still living in the monastery. It was visiting this monastery which felt incredibly authentic and a window into another world and indeed the reason why we travel…to see and experience something beyond our own backyard and way of life.

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However, I was a 23 year old when I visited the monastry and I experienced this incredible place through those eyes and it was here that possibly my favourite photo of myself on my European travels was taken. I’d spotted this sign on the end of a high stone wall and pulled myself along the top to get into position grateful for my many years of climbing trees as a kid preparing me for the job.

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This photo shows me for how I saw myself…a traveller. I was an Australian over in Europe exploring Italy and I was miles and miles away from home and living the life of a bird.

Doing a Google search from my lounge room back in Australia in 2020, it looks like this monastry was the Certosa of Galluzzo. It would be wonderful to go back and retrace my steps and experience this incredible historica place through more mature eyes.

Florence in April 2020…

Then, I was brutally brought back to the present where Florence and all of Italy is embroiled in the deepest depths of the coronavirus and Florence is closed.

All the world is thinking of you and praying for release, a flattening of the curve an end to this blight. I send you my love and the outstretched arms of a friend. We hope you’ll be okay and we look forward to catching up in person on the other side.

Have you ever been to Florence? Have some memories or posts to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

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

 

 

A-Z April Blogging Challenge- Theme Reveal – Places I’ve Been.

Once again, yours truly is completely unprepared for the annual A-Z April Blogging Challenge, despite fervid vows to “Be Prepared” next year and have all my posts written up in advance. Well, I guess my disorganized, last minute response could well be in keeping  with the theme of today…April Fool’s Day. Last night, I decided to change direction from ANZAC Soldiers serving in France during WWI to a photography travel series covering places I’ve been. I chose this theme because much of our world is currently in some form of social isolation at home and any form of travel has been outlawed and a plane has become a rare sight.

So, let me introduce myself.

Rowena 2018

My name’s Rowena Curtin and I’m no longer a 40 something writer, researcher, wife, mother, photographer and poor impersonation of a violinist. I am now 50. However, let’s be quite clear. I haven’t become 50 something YET!!!

Family

The Family at Christmas 2019

The other cast members here are my husband Geoff and two teenagers simply known as Mr and Miss. Geoff is currently working from home having conference calls and the like from our kitchen dining area which has now become his office. Our kids are doing schoolwork from home until the end of the week when they go on holidays. Our daughter has also been turning our kitchen into a dance studio right through dinner time and then there are the three dogs who are overjoyed to have all their ball and stick throwers at home. So, as you can see. Our place is rather cozy at the moment and will be for the unpredictable future.

Lady at Ocean Beach

Lady at Ocean Beach, Umina, NSW.

By the way, we live at Umina Beach just North of Sydney Australia. The beach is only a short walk away, which has been a blessed escape hatch from being imprisoned at home. Well, being stuck at home hasn’t quite become a prison yet. So, perhaps I was exaggerating things just a little for creative effect. However, whichever way you look at it. The world as we know it right now is hardly situation normal.

Of course, we’ll be travelling around the world alphabetically. However, there will be a particular emphasis on revisiting my 1992 backpacking trip around Europe where I landed in Amsterdam and then caught a train to Koln (Cologne) in Germany and onto Heidelberg, where I ultimately ended up living for roughly 6 months with a local family which was the experience of a lifetime. I also spent a week in Berlin living in what had been an East Berlin student house which still had all the authentic “interior design”. Then, I spent two weeks in Mons which included seeing Van Gough’s house nearby. There was about 6 weeks in Paris, a weekend in Florence and a week in London. It has become the trip of a lifetime, despite my desire to get back. Added salt to the wound, was when our son’s 3 week school history tour of Europe was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. He was due to be there now, but my goodness! We’re so glad he’s home.

So, I invite you to join me for these vicarious travels and I hope these photos and stories lift you out of the coronacrisis and possibly even taken you to your happy place. Indeed, that is the hope for myself.

Moreover, if you are doing the Blogging A-Z April Challenge, please leave a link to your theme reveal in the comments below.

Stay tuned!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share…9th March, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s now Monday afternoon here and I’ve finally managed to levitate myself from the comforts of bed. I suppose I should be embarrassed and a tad ashamed for sleeping through much of the day, but it felt so good and I also read about 20 pages into Thoreau’s Walden, which I should’ve read years ago, but I haven’t. Have you?

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This is the only red Alfa our son is getting hold of. Ours are off-limits.

Anyway, the last couple of weeks have meant birthdays here. Our daughter turned 14 a few weeks ago and our son turned 16 yesterday. He’s now able to get his Learner’s Permit (his L’s) and would’ve been there yesterday if it wasn’t a Sunday. I don’t know why we didn’t book him in for today, but he still hasn’t been booked in. He’s as keen as mustard, but his father and I are justifiably hesitant. I’m sure he already believes he can drive better than me, and I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse to put someone who is wildly over-confident into the driver’s seat for the first time, or a nervous Nelly like I was who ducks beneath the dashboard praying to escape (along with the instructor). We’ve heard stories of friends’ sons wanted to drive home from the registry or drive to school the following morning through heavy peak-hour Sydney traffic. Fortunately, that’s left us forwarned. He’s been told that he’ll be having his first lesson in the car park at our local community centre and I think he’d already chosen his Dad for the first drive. Hey, that could well be all driving lessons, except he’ll get his hours up with me.  I don’t like driving and can’t wait for him to get mobile!

Their birthdays have changed now that they’re teenagers. Gone are the days of making them a fancy cake out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book. In fact, gone are the days of us being invited along to festivities with friends. Our daughter requested a pavlova at home and went out with friends and our son almost had to be dragged away from his Youtube videos for us to sing Happy Birthday.

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The Cake of Carnage. A scrumptious Bienstich from our local bakery. The candles had to go in the cracks in between the slices and after the dog got to it, there was no chance of decorum.

By the way, I should point out that the dog didn’t need to dragged anywhere near the cake.  Well, to protect the innocence of the other two dogs Zac and Lady, I’d better name and shame Rosie. While I was trying to round the family up, she chomped a good eighth of the cake away and I hastily had to rearranged what was left to try to get something of a circle. It’s not the first time a dog has helped themselves. They’re so much more switched on than us humans and rearing to strike. No doubt, all her ball and stick chasing has enabled Rosie to gulp up a cake just as quickly with but one snap of her trap.  I won’t go into details, but you can be sure family tensions rose after that the by the time everybody was back seated round the table, it was a case of “you will have a Happy Birthday!!”

I was particularly trying to give our son a Happy Birthday because he had some rather devastating news during the week. The NSW Education Department canceled the school’s Europe trip due to the Coronavirus. I was so devastated when we found out and the school held a meeting and I was so emotional and shaken up. We’d given our son this trip of a lifetime from the very depths of our hearts. It wasn’t something we could afford and my husband’s never been to Europe, and it’s been over 25 years for me. The depth of the history teaching in this tour was so good that we found the money. As turned out, my husband got a lot of overtime last year and that covered it, but it meant he was working six days for three months. It wasn’t something that came easily and I’m sure the other parents from this tour are in the same boat. At the moment, it looks like we’ll get some of our money back but it’s a complicated process. That hurts as well. However, we just have to do the whole life goes on thing. They were meant to be leaving in six weeks.

Speaking of the Coronavirus, what if any impact is it having over your way? The most obvious sign of the virus here, is the empty spaces on the supermarket shelves where the toilet paper is supposed to be. For some reason, people have bought up huge volumes of toilet paper and it really does seem rather strange. Has that happened over your way? I remember when we were kids we used to play a game in class where you said what you wanted to taken if you were deserted on a desert island and you had to remember what everyone before you had said. I don’t remember ANYONE saying a 50 pack of toilet paper. Rather, you can put me down for Tim Tams, chocolate, tea and some blueberries just to be a bit healthy.

Toyota Corona

Do you remember the original Toyota Corona? Could this be the original source of the virus?

Jokes aside, I am in a high-risk group maybe not of catching the virus, but certainly of having a serious response if I do catch it. I have an auto-immune disease called dermatomyositis and a complication of that called Institial Lung Disease. This has left me with 50% lung capacity and fibrosis. So, I get a flu vaccine every year and try to keep away from crowds etc. Meanwhile, my husband works at Macquarie University in Sydney and that is at the epicentre of cases there. At this point, we’re talking about a handful of cases but there has been at least one death. Epping Boys High School nearby had a case, and so on Friday the school was closed down and teachers and students were in isolation for two days. That included a friend from Church.

Corona Beer

Could this be the possible cure?

It’s hard to know at this stage what this virus means for our global community. Is it going to become a great pandemic rivaling the Spanish Flu of 1919? No one knows at this stage, but it’s good to see that health authorities aren’t taking chances and it seems isolation is reducing the spread.

Meanwhile, I am continuing with my research into WWI Australian soldiers serving in France. I can now appreciate how all these months and months of research are consolidating into a solid knowledge base. I really knew nothing about the actual running of the war before I started, although I’d studied the cases of the war and how it led to WWII in a lot of detail at school and uni. I’m only now starting to appreciate the distinction between artillery and infantry and how that shaped a soldier’s experience of the battlefield and I’m picking up great stories and insights into the battles themselves. This all started out with trying to find out where my Great Great Uncle Jack was wounded (Mouquet Farm), which has evolved into an obsessive ques to try to work out what he went through back then. The records of the day were very scant and nowhere near enough for anyone truly wanting to build a solid picture of what their family member went through. Geoff’s Great Uncle was Killed in Action at Mont St Quentin in September 1918, but at least he left us his diary and some sense of his experience was passed down to my husband. However, that was not the case with his relatives who returned. understanding what our people went through over there, and back here at home, is very important to me. It’s clear to me that our younger generations don’t know what happened so it’s no longer a case of “lest we forget”. We do not remember. We do not know.

I’m not sure what else I’ve been up to. How about you? How have you been?

I hope you are keeping well and staying clear of the Coronavirus and other nasties that are out there.

This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.
Best wishes,
Rowena

Santa’s Australian Post-Christmas Escape.

You couldn’t blame Santa for needing a bit of a break after supervising all his elves and dashing round the planet on his sleigh. After all, he must have the most stressful job on Earth.

So, here he is hiding out at Lennox Head, South of Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast catching some waves.

Of course, I had to join him. While I’m not much chop as a surfer, today must have been my lucky day because I not only managed to stand up, I also stayed dry. That’s quite an achievement.

By the way, I should mention that I’ve enjoyed feeling 21 again on this holiday. I’m not looking forward to returning to responsibility when the kids go back to school at the end of January. It’s been absolute bliss drifting along for a bit and not needing to be anywhere at a particular time. No lines etched in the sand. They’ve all been washed away.

Have you ever been surfing and do you have any stories to share?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 30th September, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d be showing you some beautiful photos of my swan. You see, our daughter performed in Swan Lake & More with the Central Dance Company on Saturday and in all seriousness, I wish I could just bathe in that magnificent music and gaze at that dancing forever. It was magic. Well, not pure magic because they’ve been rehearsing every Sunday for five months. There’s also been a few injuries, not to mention the usual aching feet. Ballet is legalized torture, especially for the feet.

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Our daughter dancing in Swan Lake Act 1: The Waltz.

The night before her performance, I wrote a post capturing all those anticipatory emotions and thoughts including a photographic tour of her ballet journey so far from when she started out at four to where she is now at 13, a year after she stepped into her first pair of pointe shoes.

I have also been transformed by her journey. Not just as a bystander. I’ve also done some adult classes myself. There’s been ballet, lyrical, contemporary and tap. I’ve learned so much through these classes and have made the transition from being a taxi-driving dance mum to becoming a dancer myself both in terms of physical capability and in spirit. I’ve also watched a lot of dance to and find myself observing ballet type poses out in nature in how a dying flower might bow its head and wilt or how a towering tree raises its branches up into the sky.

Anyway, she still has one more performance to go. Otherwise, my mood would be a lot more sombre.

Meanwhile, yesterday I sat in on a script writing meeting with the Gang Show looking at generating material for next year’s show. That was quite interesting because I have quite strong views about promoting and maintaining Australian culture and fighting back against the tide of American culture. These aren’t always shared so I have to keep a lid on it. However, that doesn’t stop me from voicing my opinion here. I also feel our days of excluding our Indigenous Aboriginal people from our popular culture are gone. However, if we don’t have any Aboriginal people in the Gang Show, that’s pretty difficult to do. We can’t have someone dress up and pretend. We just have to leave it out. It was also interesting talking about our contemporary world and incorporating some of that into the show.

Aside from a poor excuse for a play I wrote back at uni, I haven’t done any script writing before. So, writing these skits is new ground. Moreover, I’ve never been in Guides or Scouts and my only understanding of the movement is limited to my observations as a parent. However, although writing these skits is going to be challenging, I’m determined to give it a shot. See what I’m made of. I’ve been working on some concepts today and they’re coming together surprisingly well. I’ll keep you posted.

Last week, I drove over to Terrigal for a hair cut and explored the beach afterward. Terrigal is 88kms North of Sydney and really is a beautiful spot. While our beach is less built up and developed, Terrigal has it’s stunning honeycomb cliffs and memories of going there for holidays throughout my childhood back when we didn’t know the dangers of coating ourselves in coconut oil and getting fried under the harsh Australian sun. I also remember almost drifting out to sea with my brother on these inflatable lilo things. It was a simpler world back then. Well, at least it was for me.

The kids started school holidays today. Next week, my husband and son will be heading up to Bathurst for the Bathurst 1000, a 1,000-kilometre touring car race held annually on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. It is currently run as a championship event for Supercars. They can’t wait and will be camping out there with Geoff’s sister and her son along with their friends. It was all too much for me and I’m staying home with our daughter who will be performing in a dance production.

Anyway, I’d better keep moving and finalise dinner. I had a crazy idea of making an apple pie and while I’ve had assistance with the apples, it still has a way to go.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Bye! Bye! Miss!

“You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to

grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than

the other girls.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

/Tonight, we waved Miss off on her school ski trip. They were picked up from school in three massive coaches tonight and they’ll drive through the night to hit the slopes at Perisher Smiggins in the Australian Alps bright and early at 7.00am. By the way, if you’re used to skiing overseas, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The so-called “Australian Alps”, should really be called  “The Australian Mole Hills”. We don’t have real mountains in Australia.

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Loading up the bus.

Naturally, seeing her off was a tad emotional and yanked away at my heart strings, Although she’s now 13 and in high school, as she climbed on board,  it was like watching this tiny girl get swallowed up by this massive white coach and disappear.  Not that I was about to board the bus to yank her to safety. I’m not that pathetic. I know it’s only for a few days and she’s been away from us for longer trips before. However, it’s moments like these where you not only think about all the fun adventures she’ll have, but the gaps in between certainties also open up just enough to let in the doubt. The what ifs. After all, we live in an uncertain world where anything could change at the tick of the clock. Of course, these uncertainties are always there, but our routines and busyness block them out and we forget we don’t hold the remote control. That things can happen. On the other hand, I’m equally sure she’ll arrive home tired with a beaming smile on Friday. She’ll have been away on what will be yet another trip of a lifetime.

“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have

hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to

explain them.”

Louisa May Alcott

Another thought crossed my mind as I started working on this post, we’re in the process of waving goodbye to her childhood. Indeed, it’s clear that horse has already bolted. That said, she hasn’t grown up quite as much as the photo would suggest. She must be standing on a mound because there’s no way she’s as tall as me. I’m a good 174 cm  tall and she’s nowhere near it. Just as well I took this photo below with her Dad, which brings her nicely back down to size. Geoff is the same height as me so she hasn’t shot up quite as much after all.

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Yet, she’s still grown up a lot since I first started blogging back in 2012. She’d only just started school the year before and truly was a little girl back then.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what

we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before

we can enter another.”-

Anatole France

Jonathon & Amelia

The kids on my daughter’s first day of school back in 2011. 

 

There are people I’ve been blogging with much of those years and have seen my kids grow up, which is a really special privilege really. After all, it’s an incredible thing to see someone grow up, looking at their photos, taking in their adventures and stories and being a part of their lives even if you’ve never met, which is one of the peculiarities of these close blogging friendships. In some instances, we do know each other better than people in the so-called real world, but we’ve never met. Never gone out for a real coffee. Nothing. It no longer seems strange to me until I try to explain it to someone who doesn’t blog.

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Snowplowing on our first trip to the snow in 2012, aged 6.

Anyway, getting back to the trip, it’s going to be an experience for her. It was optional trip, and so many of her friends aren’t going, which has thrown her somewhat out of her comfort zone and she’ll be mixing with other students she doesn’t know and others where there are some tensions to boot. In effect, she’s stuck in a lift with these people for the week. While as  a teacher or parent, we can see this as a good thing and say a stranger is only a friend you haven’t met, as a teenager, is a whole different story. It can be unsettling.

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Back at ski school in 2013.

However, Miss really loves skiing and is is a fairly good skier, especially compared to most of these kids who won’t have been skiing before. That should give her a bit of confidence.  I’ve also seen her face light up on the slopes. She’s had the ski bug bad before and once she hits the powder, she’ll be right. I just hope she doesn’t sustain an injury, because that could be a disaster for her dancing. She’s performing in Swan Lake with Central Dance Company in four weeks. She’s not allowed to get injured and in hindsight, perhaps I should’ve put a roll of bubble wrap into her suitcase. That would be a great look out on the slopes, but I’m sure I could’ve sold a few bubble wrap suits to some of the other parents. While we say we want our kids to get out there and experience the world, we’re all lying. We really just want them to sit in front of the TV and stay safe.

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The kids with their snow kid in 2012. 

Meanwhile, we have one less person at home. For her brother, it means more chores but for me there’s one less fuss pot to feed and we could all use a few new stories. I’ve been fighting off some weird sleep virus so haven’t been much fun anyway. The week will fly by and all too soon, she’ll be back.

Well, that is except for the dogs. They don’t know anything about fun-filled ski adventures or the frolics of the sun. All they saw was the suitcase come out, and Miss is gone. Indeed, I could just imagine Lady thinking we’re hopeless parents. Don’t they even realize they’ve lost one? This is her song…

“No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I’m happy on the shelf
Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you…”

Meanwhile, I’ve spent a few hours tonight hunting down the photos from 2012 and getting well and truly lost down memory lane. Our son only has two more years of school and who knows how many family holidays we have left. That’s not to be negative and reflective. However, it is important to make the most of it. Find the time and money to get away. I’ve been thinking about a camping trip soon. That said, my husband and son will be going camping with the extended family up at Bathurst in a few weeks time to watch the Bathurst 500 Car Race. My daughter and I are staying home “to look after the dogs”, but she also has a dance production.

Anyway, I’m very late to get to bed and will head on now.

I’d love to hear about your skiing adventures or how you feel about your kids growing up and stretching their wings.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Doggy Doors, Surry Hills…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

If you are looking for a way to torture your teenager that’s perfectly legal, take them on a doorscursion. It has a similar effect to trying to go for a run with a dog who has to stop and sniff every lamp post and everything in between. Indeed, I was given quite a lecture on the way home about how much quicker we would’ve been if we didn’t have to stop to take photos all the time. Of course, it was water off this photographer’s back. Until she’s old enough to get herself around, she’s stuck taking the slow road.

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As addition to photographing doors, I was spellbound by the Winter trees with their bare branches and crumpled leaves silhouetted against a pale blue sky. 

To be fair to the teenager, we were on the way to HER audition. However, we had allowed a few hours for cafe hopping and simply absorbing all that is Surry Hills. Besides, it’s not often they let me out and I was like a pig in mud unleashed with my camera soaking up the world through the lens. I love it and as I’ve said before, see so much better in  6 x 4.DSC_4360

Although I have some fabulous doors up sleeve, today I’m just sharing some photos of a few gorgeous pooches we spotted walking up Foveaux Street. Indeed, there were dogs everywhere we looked in Surry Hills and even many businesses had their resident pooch.

Anyway, I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. Hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Don’t mess with the dog in the featured image. If it doesn’t like you, it could well drop that heavy antique iron  in the background on your foot.