Friday, 31 January 2014

Year of the Horse

Kung Hei Fat Choi 
for the Year of the Horse!
My friends in Asia are excited for the Year of the Horse and 
are all enjoying the major Chinese New Year holiday 
which started Friday 31st January. 
We too are excited, but for different reasons!
Peace and good health in the Year of the Horse! (馬年安康, mǎ nián ān kāng)
Here is our horse, Little Miss Hussy.
She is a three year old racehorse, 
who has two wins, one second, one third and a fifth to her name.
We own a small part - like a tail!
We are hoping 2014 is her year...
Lucky/Auspicious Year of the Horse! (馬年吉祥, mǎ nián jí xiáng) 
Do you know if you are born in the Year of the Horse?
Here are the years:
If you are born in one of these years they say you are clever, kind, animated and energetic. You might talk too much but you are cheerful, perceptive, talented and love to be in the centre of a crowd. 

People born in the Year of the Horse

Chopin, Clint Eastwood, Nelson Mandela, Isaac Newton, Barbara Streisand, Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Rembrandt and Genghis Khan. 

We recently went to visit Miss Hussy who has been out at grass all summer, following the disappointing 5th place in her last race.  She has just come back into training and we were happy to see how much she'd grown on her holidays!
She is impossible to photograph, she is all snorts, pawing at the ground. You can see the swishing tail above. The day we stopped by, she was in the horse walker and was taken out to be shown to us. She was not best pleased, you could tell. She knows the routine, a stretch of the legs, followed by dinner. This 'show and tell' was an unwelcome interruption to her schedule...
Take the lead upon the horse!  (一馬當先, yī mǎ dāng xiān) 
She is not interested in the grass, don't forget she's had that in unlimited supplies over her hols, but she chomps impatiently away on the dirt, happy for the minerals. We pay a shed load of money to ensure she has the finest oats around, and she is happy as a pig in mud chowing down on dirt?????
This reminds me of a Chinese saying which I like, 

“A good horse never turns its head to eat the grass behind.”

So, look ahead, not back...

Instant success when the horse arrives! (馬到成功, mǎ dào chéng gong)
Here is Miss Hussy amongst her stablemates, she's blurred in the foreground. 
Not still ever for a minute, it's the racehorse in her - ha ha!
Do you know what sign of the Chinese zodiac animal you are? 
Are you a charming Snake, a witty Monkey or maybe like me a friendly Rabbit? 
Good Luck Little Miss H - Wishing you a prosperous and healthy 2014!
In the meantime wishing you a wonderful Year of the Horse
Kong Hei Fat Choi -  May you be prosperous.

Now where did I put that lucky Horseshoe?

Linking with Blue Monday
Thank you Sally I hope you spotted the blue headcollar?

Smiling Sally
Linking with Our World Tuesday
Thank you to all the hosts Arija, Gattina, Lady D, Sylvia, Sandy, Jennifer

Thank you to Eileen for the Saturday's Critters meme

PS If you would like to read more about Little Miss Hussy:
Cor Blimey - our Nag won!!! 17th April 2013
Proving she's not just a once in a blue moon horse...   Tuesday, 30 April 2013
You win some... you lose some....      Monday, 13 May 2013
Cranbourne Barrier Trial - no trial, no barrier for Little Miss Hussy  Thursday, 15 August 2013
Victorian Spring Racing Carnival - Feeling blue at the races.    Thursday, 17 October 2013

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Australia Day

City of Boroondara Citizenship Ceremony
Sunday 26 January 2014 

This Australia Day we finally all became Aussies!

January 26th is our National Day of celebration. A traditional day of flags, fireworks and fun, and a time to reflect on what it means to be Australian.  A day that marks the anniversary in 1788 of the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships and raising of the flag of Great Britain. 

It is somewhat ironic therefore, that on this day, we chose not to pick up the British flag of our birth, but are enthusiastically waving the Australian Flag, along with hundreds of other new Australians!   

This year Australia Day had special significance, as it was the day my DH finally became an Aussie citizen. Myself and the kids had become citizens in 2010 but Tim's overseas work commitments meant he did not have the necessary residency to qualify.  

We start the day with a 
'What should I wear?question 
No, not from me, I wasn't the one going up on stage! Having googled citizenship ceremony images, we finally decided a suit was the order of the day. It was a glorious Melbourne day, a day more for shorts and sleeveless summer frocks, all blue skies and puffy white clouds. 

Tim looked smart in his suit, but equally he would not have looked out of place in something more casual. It was a day to celebrate the diverse heritage and background of the 125 soon to be new Australians, from 32 countries. Certainly no-one batted an eyelid at those arriving dressed in sari's or burkhas and the lady two seats down is wearing a flag with two smaller flags in her hair, anything goes!

We arrived to find the car park jam packed with people in kilts. We search for a park in the shade and a car arrives flying Aussie flags. We sense the building occasion, but do wonder if we're at the right place?

The ceremony is being held in one of our oldest buildings in Boroondara. The plaque outside the Hawthorn Town Hall dates it to 1888, hardly old by many countries standards, but positively geriatric in Aussie terms.

In the entrance foyer, all the ceremony candidates receive an Aussie flag pin and a name tag with either a blue or red dot. Tim's is red. We meet another British family with blue dots. We have a laugh suggesting what the two differences might be. Until they tell us reds will be pledging an affirmation, blues will take an oath on the bible... Oh so that's it, DH is not Darling Husband, I have a devil husband.

The doors open into the opulent main hall, and devil husband makes his way to the front of the room to sit with the others becoming Aussie citizens. We head upstairs to the balcony for better viewing. We are after all, old hands at this, and I can feel a blog coming on. I need a good view! 

Every seat is adorned with an Australian flag which we are encouraged to wave and cheer and make lots of noise as the candidates receive their certificates.  A backdrop of a massive flag adorns the stage, framed by heavy burgundy velvet curtains on the stage. 

There is an air of expectancy and excitement. The event itself is Grammy's meets School Speech Night. Thank goodness all 125 candidates are not going to make an acceptance speech, but my, what stories each and everyone could tell... 

As the Press well know. Several of the families and those of particular photographic appeal on diversity grounds (if you get my drift) are asked for stories and comment. Devil husband, white single middle aged male of European descent, is  of no interest, and there is no need for me to bring in security for his personal protection from media hacks.

Our Mayor welcomes everyone. She acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri Tribe, before greeting assembled dignitaries including two local MP's, and recipients of the Citizen, Young Citizen and Volunteer of the Year 2014. 

Cr Coral Ross, our Mayor has a lovely warm smile and a massive gold clinking collar which sparkles so brightly that even those of us in the back row reach for our sunnies - Oh look at me, lapsing into an Aussie'ism, like a real local! Sorry I mean sunglasses, to use my best Queen's English. No, on second thoughts sunnies it is!

Here we go - Drum roll please! With a mass of tartan, furry sporrans and red drum sticks, in parade the Hawthorn City Pipe Band. Their rousing performance explains the kilted playing bagpipe brigade spotted in the car park. We can't resist a little giggle, as we are still not quite sure how Scotland got so heavily involved, but hey Australia prides itself on it's multiculturalism... 

Or maybe this was it? The first subtle lesson of the day. Here we are tempted to say where's the Aussie band, and crack a joke that given it was Australia Day the only band not booked was the Scottish one. Then we realise, this is the Aussie Band!

The speeches are powerful. The candidates are reminded that Australia is a nation of migrants. They are told it is natural to have mixed emotions. Strangely I felt more emotional today, than when I became a citizen. Three years ago, it was a piece of paper to give our family stability to remain, come what may. Today I became an Aussie.

Not everyone is as fortunate as us We also have the double happy whammy of having the option to have dual British and Australian citizenship. We often talk about this, and how blessed we are to been able have both passports. We know how incredibly lucky we are to have these two countries behind us. We have not fled from civil war or natural disaster, we are not displaced. We have chosen to become Australian citizens. We have not spent up to five years fighting for the right to remain like the Asylum Seekers I work with. 

Australia welcomed us, fourteen years ago on the basis of devil husband's job skills. We may not have the appropriate criteria if we applied today. Things are tougher now, and certainly age would be agains us. We know many people who are not so lucky...

Maybe this is what is getting to me. I know all the people I work with would give almost anything to be in our family's position... To fly the Aussie flag on their car and wear the Australian flag on their lapel.

The opportunity is not lost to reinforce Australia as the best country in the world. A country that matters. Australia has:
  • Twelfth strongest Economy 
  • Sixth largest land mass 
  • Four capitals (Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth) in the top ten liveable cities in the world.
Diversity is Australia's countries strength. Of the 23 million inhabitants:

  • Almost 25 per cent of Australia's population was born overseas 
  • 43.1 per cent of people have at least one overseas-born parent. 
  • 15 per cent speak a language other than English at home. Locally the biggest second languages are Mandarin, Italian then Greek.

We are told
Never forget the country from which you came, and the culture from which you grew, that is to be celebrated

Everyone is given a tree as a symbol of their experience: 

The roots offer a secure and meaning future
where you and your family can grow. 
This plant becomes your hope for the future...

(Ohhh, no pressure then! I did make a mental note to make sure we plant it in a good spot and look after it!)

Later that day the Hardenbergia Violacae plant takes pride of place on the mantlepiece

By the time we watch the 'I am Australian' video, I am a blubbering mess. We've gone from the 
"Mum can you stop taking photo's it's embarrassing...", to the 
"Mum, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, it's just that we are ALL Australian now" 
'What's wrong with that?"
We are one, but we are many 
and from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice
 I am, 
you are, 

we are Australian.

The Hon Ted Baillieu, MP, Member for Hawthorn had the tricky "follow that' job but his speech brought me out in goosebumps. Here are some of Ted's thoughts: 
'MP's love these events they are the happiest we are involved with...

'Receive a flag... 
and somewhere, either here, or in the future, 
maybe with friends, or by yourselves 
your heart will dance with the sounds of Australia. 

Have a ball! 
Australia will creep up on you, 
maybe when you least expect, 
it will take your breath away and you will know 
you are Australian...

Ted - you're so right. 
I have had a ball in this wonderful Country. 
Australia has crept up on me...

Devil husband meets us outside after the ceremony clutching his certificate and his Hardenbergia Violacae. 
'Oops I've failed the Ashes Test already', 
he announces with a grin. What's that we ask? 
'Someone asked me who I go for in the Test Cricket, between Australia and England. 
I said England'
England??????? we all replied.

Linking with Our World Tuesday
Thank you to all the hosts Arija, Gattina, Lady D, Sylvia, Sandy, Jennifer

Sunday, 26 January 2014

January Jottings

January is my favourite month in Melbourne. 
It's summer and 
We are on holiday,
The city is quiet, like Paris in August.

I have not quite got used to the seasons being upside down, 
I still struggle with a warm Christmas. 
Having been born and brought up in chilly Britain, 
Christmas feels weird here.

However when January comes, I'm fully Aussie. 
No post festive season blues here.
Santa might be crying all the way to the check-out,
but I'm smiling and life's good.

In early January a water lily flowered in our garden
It's cheerful petals unfolding into the sunshine
It appeared out of nowhere
Beautiful, delicate, exotic, perfectly formed 
and in my pond!!

I take it's flowering as symbol of new life
and wonder what 2014 will hold for us?
It will be a year of big change for our family
Daughter No 1 is off to volunteer in Africa
Daughter No 2 moves to New York
It's my sons final year of school
New jobs are on the horizon
And me?
Well I'm off to Bali on a yoga retreat in May to cope!

The lotus flower appearing in our pond
Very Zen, I feel,
In Asia the flowering of the lotus symbolises absolute real truth and purity.
I wonder whether this flower is a sign, 
Are we off to Asia?

January is all about sport for us, 
we are of course living in the self proclaimed sporting capital of Australia.
There is much to choose from whether it is cricket, soccer or tennis.
We don't flee the city in January in search of beaches like many
We stay for the Tennis.

We put everything on hold, and don't plan for much.
Our city fills with visitors.
Melbourne is looking good.
We spend our days watching tennis,
 either at the site, or more likely  
watching the on court action
glued to the television 

Last night we watched wonderful Wawrinka 
beat the defending Champion Novak Djokovich. 
It was a wow wow wee match.
Stan's the Man.

Happily it was cool last night (only 18 degrees C)
Last week our temperatures soared into the 40's (over 100 in Fahrenheit)
We had four days of extreme heat, 
it barely dropped at night.
Melbourne was on a knife edge 
our electricity infrastructure was barely able to cope with the peak demand.
Luckily we weren't one of the houses affected by power cuts
By last Thursday there were over seventy bush fires
 burning out of control across the State.

Jan 2014 was going to be one of those years 
that people talked about for years...

At the tennis, play continued.
Players braved horrendous conditions on court.
In ten years of watching the Aussie Open, 
I have never seen Melbourne Park so empty on occasions.

Players needed to be adjusted to the severe Aussie climate and
have an even greater than usual steely determination to win.
For me it is no surprise that new players have emerged 
and other old names have fallen by the wayside.

The crazy poodle in sunnies.
The Crazy Poodle is not best pleased with January, 
despite his summer clip, he is hot and bothered. 
His normal routine of walks disrupted. 
Last week we had to leave him outside 
Yes, you've guessed it we went to the tennis!
We lined the floor of his kennel with ice blocks to keep him cool.

This weekend is our Australian Day celebration.
It will be a fun day
We have  citizenship ceremony to attend
Can't wait...

Except that after Australia day, 
School goes back and then we're into February
It gets really, really hot in February
 January is better!

  J is for January Jottings
Thank you for Jenny Matlock for hosting

Saturday, 25 January 2014


Who I Am....

Hi everyone,
and welcome to any newcomers to my blog.
I am especially pleased to meet you through 
Grow my Blog 2014

I'm Wren and I'm a blog addict!
There it's out, and as many suspected...

Here I am, 
doing my Princess Diana impersonation, as in all alone.
No silly, of course it's not at the Taj Mahal, 
although thinking about it, I do have that photo!
I'm at Liverpool Football Club. 
Where the Club motto is
 'You'll never walk alone'... 
trust me to manage it!

Wren at Liverpool FC Jan 2013
I am a travel blog gone awry,
I wear many hats, 
but don't often carry my suitcase these days! 
Instead I like to bring you my everyday Aussie life.
Sometimes I'm Crazy Soccer Mum 
most recently I've been Crazy Tennis Mum
My aim in life is to be 
Zen Yoga Wren!

The following photos give an idea of some of my recent posts.
My all time most popular post is: 

I started blogging because:

1. In September 2012 I set off alone to visit family and friends in India and Europe. I wanted a way to record my 100 day adventure and share my trip, and blogging seemed the perfect forum.  

Wren's 100 day Wanderings Sept 2013 - January 2013
2. I wanted to learn something new, how to blog and how to write...
This is still very much a work in progress... 
attend a weekly Writing Group as I strive to write my memoirs.
However I have to confess 
I get such a kick from posting something on line 
and seeing where in the world it is being read (this used to terrify me!) 
and even more so, seeing and responding to any comments made,
that my creative writing often takes a back seat.

Go on admit it...
Who doesn't like turning on the computer early in the morning,
 and seeing the lovely comments from all around the world?

3. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, the reason I started and continue blogging is Neesie Natters. Nessie lived down the road at the time, and encouraged me to start Little Wandering Wren

Everyone needs a Blog Tutor or Mentor
 and I was lucky enough to have Neesie.
She helped me set up my blog, 
made my header 
and is still my go-to person when I cry 'help' 
even though we now live on opposite sides of the world! 
Thank you Neesie, 
I would not be here without you!

Little Wandering Wren in Australia
I live in Melbourne, Australia
we have now lived here in total for ten years. 
Originally from England
we have now lived 'abroad' for twenty years. 
My husband's work for a US multinational 
gave us an ever-moving expatriate life in 
Belgium (twice), Hong Kong and Australia. 
We are now dual British and Australian citizens

Little Wandering Wren in Great Britain 2012/2013
Our three kids (age 21, 20 and 17 yrs) 
have attended schools/universities on five continents 
and have clearly picked up our love of travel. 
We have just waved one daughter off to New York 
with a coat, hat and gloves, 
and another daughter will soon leave for Africa.
If fact, it is often observed that we are now living 
vicariously through our kids!

The gang admiring the view Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur April 2013
 We hardly ever have everyone at home at the same time
 and my blog is also now one way that whoever is away, 
can see what we're up to! 

It is where I share our daily family life
and so when the Little Wandering Wren stopped flying overseas as regularly, my blog focus shifted to suburban life in Melbourne, and beach life on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia, Aussie Travels, gardening, kids, pets (the crazy poodle features quite prominently) and there is a horse that sometimes makes an appearance!

Here is Mutt, the Crazy Poodle is the only family member who likes to be photographed!
...and being the sports capital of the world, 
whatever we are watching or very occasionally playing; 
cricket, tennis, soccer, rugby, horse racing etc

Why I love to blog...
So I was originally a travel blog visiting family and friends in India, UK, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain. 
On my return to Melbourne 
I continued posting our daily life 
and by mid 2013 I started to build a few followers.

I bought myself an Apple Mac Computer 
and set myself a target of 10,000 hits on my blog 
and 100 followers on Twitter by the end of 2013. 
With the help of some new online friends I reached these targets.
Thank you!

My blogging breakthroughs came when I started to join a few memes 
in particular the Blue Monday, Our World Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday memes were good for me.
They welcomed me 
and I enjoyed finding and following other blogs of interest.
The Blogging Community is so positive, 
that I have yet to have a bad experience.

I hope that you will join me, 

and I look forward to following you. 
Hang on tight world, 
it looks like 2014 
could be one hell of a ride!

Contacting me...
There are two ways to contact me either by: 
leaving a comment through Google+ 
or to e-mail me directly from my side bar at

A huge thanks to Vicki from 2 Bags Full 
for hosting this Grow you Blog event

and lastly thank you for your visit, 
I look forward to reciprocating by return.
Have a lovely weekend!

PS I love Blogging and I really adore Twitter:

My user name is LWWren
I am a Twitter flousy, 
I always (well nearly always) follow back. 
There was a lady in her undies the other day that I didn't follow back...So put some clothes on, and  make some nice, normal comments and I will join you on Twitter!)
Isn't there is something refreshing about having a limit of 140 characters?