Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Xyz ... School's Out For Ever!

'Schools there are many, renowned in our story, 

founded by Kings, in the days long ago...'

Last week our son finished at school, 
singing the rather apt school song one last time
Schools there are many...

His education has spanned nine schools
on four different continents.

Despite this, he's turned out alright!
Says his Mother ...

Starting school with only one eye and one arm
Born in Belgium, to British parents, and like all local kids, he started school at two and a half. We had the choice of French, Flemish or our native English schools. We wanted him to be good at languages, unlike his parents, so we choose a French Maternelle school. 

He had passed the only entry requirement, which was to be fully potty trained with flying colours. In those early days, he had a teddy bear in his locker which he would nap with during sleep time, after he'd eaten a three course cooked school lunch. Extreme weather meant on snow days the school was closed.

Carnivale - Belgium Maternelle 1999
When he was three we moved to Australia where they were horrified at the previous loss of his childhood. An Australian education starts in Prep aged five years old, and it is not uncommon to hold the kids back, especially boys, until they are six years old, to give them a good start at their education.  

Three and four year old Kinder places book up early and so the only option as a new arrival was to attend an all girls private school, where in pre-prep they took boys. I'm not sure he's ever thanked us enough for this part of his schooling!

School distractions cause back to front number confusions!
At five years old he joined his sisters at a local Aussie French bilingual primary school, wearing his blue shorts, red top and blue broad brimmed hat. Here 40% of the curriculum was in French. We slipped, slapped, slopped on his sunscreen most days and had the excitement of extreme heat meaning that school was optional when temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius. Like many Australian kids his after school activities led to a busy life! He played Milo cricket, soccer, took Kumon Maths, had weekly swimming lessons and went to Little Athletics.

The average Australian childhood means flying to many extra curricular activities
At six he moved back to Belgium to the International School of Belgium, where no uniform was required, but guards checked the car every time we drove to school for explosives. His fellow students contained the kids of the movers and shakers of Europe and beyond. We were happy to hear that his spoken French still sounded authentic with that wonderful throaty sound, that his parents have never mastered.

Hong Kong high rises
At seven he moved to Hong Kong and with an impressive Ni Hao took up Chinese and learned to tie a tie like his Dad each morning which he wore with a rather over the top Aussie green blazer with gold piping. 

His life as an Expat Third Culture Kid was in full flight. His home life now included a domestic helper and a driver…and a Mum saying ‘even though we have full time help you still need to tidy your room', which he shared with his eldest sister. 

He watched the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens and competed in China for Touch Rugby and played soccer. He swam throughout the summer either at home or the Clearwater Bay Country Club, where we played tennis. We lived with extreme humidity and high pollution. School was occasionally closed when a Typhoon eight or above warning was posted.

Luna Park, Melbourne
At ten we moved back to Australia and for a year was at an all boys school, he transferred into the co educational school with his sisters. He continued playing tennis in the summer and soccer in the winter and took up guitar.

At thirteen he became a bronze surf live saver, by now his swimming lessons had advanced to squad level and he spent a summer in his red and yellow surf lifesaving gear.

Life's a beach as a surf lifesaver.
At fourteen he went on a six week Canadian exchange to York School, Toronto, and at sixteen he was awarded the Year 10 Indian exchange scholarship , becoming a student for six months at an Indian boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas. His room mates were from all over the globe. His love of soccer helped him fit in and he went on soccer tour to New Delhi in 2012.

On top of the world in India, 2012
He has been at his present school for six years. When he arrived in Year Seven we never fully expected that he would remain at the same school long enough to open his memory box in Year 12. It was fun to see all the things packed away, including his stitches from when he cut his knee and went to hospital!

Memory box included: Year 7 camp letter, tennis ball, U12's soccer medal, a guitar plectrum,
a Digimon token, Hong Kong money  and cufflinks.

Next week his Year 12 International Baccalaureate exams start. As we reflect back on his many schools and varied life we know this is just the start. We will be interested to see with this global education behind him where he ends up studying and working next! Anyone want to hazard a guess?!

Linking with Our World Tuesday And Thursday Favourite Things blog hop
and Alphabe Thursday : XYZ... School's out for Ever!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

More than a dog walk, it's therapy!

For the past six years I've been in 
oval therapy.

This involves
wandering around in circles, 
always in a clockwise direction,
around a cricket or footy oval,
with a pack of dogs, and a good friend or two
 putting the world to rights.

There was nothing that we couldn't sort out during our 
oval therapy sessions.

When I think back over the years
we've covered some pretty big issues
including this years classics...

'Have you decided whether you're moving to 
Shanghai, Beijing or Kuala Lumpur?'
That was January this year.
We stayed.

or in August

'How's your daughter going in Liberia?'
She left.

Some of the more trickier discussions took 
up more than one morning in the park.
Ebola for instance has been a hot topic 
over many weeks now...

The Crazy Poodle and I 
first visited Rathmines Reserve, Hawthorn East
 as a puppy 
when I needed a safe haven 
for his first off lead adventures.

The park is an easy stop off 
on my way home after the school run.

It quickly became part of our morning routine.
He has now graduated from skittish puppy
to mature older statesman of the park.
We both love it.

He gets to meet all his park friends and
best mates 
Molly, Harvey and Maisie...

 Molly is a black Spoodle 
who makes a good running partner. 
As the dogs played well together, 
the owners got chatting
and so started oval therapy.

Harvey was always popular 
as his owner always had good treats.
This went to a whole new level
When Harvey brought along a new little sister, Maisie
accompanied by home made carrot puppy training biscuits.

As the Crazy Poodle moves into doggy middle age, 
with a proud I know how this works
bum down, nose up 'please can I have a treat' look
my son slips silently into his last weeks at school.
 Last week I did my final school drop off.
Ever, ever, ever...

This is a massive change for all our routines and life.
We will no longer be passing Rathmines Reserve every day.
 We're both going to miss our walks in the park
and the oval therapy sessions!

Anyone know any good recipes for carrot dog biscuits?
We'd better get baking before we attempt 
to make new friends
in a new park! 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Melbourne's Spring

Spring shines brightly in our street

Our trees burst forth with a 'look at me' pazazz!
under our brilliant blue skies.

It's a time for long walks in the parks

Or to to flop and recover!

and watch swans in love 
on the banks of the Yarra...

Until the sun goes down in the city

Spring is a special time of the year in Melbourne!

This post has been inspired by Lady Fi
with her wonderful post Bedazzling 
I thought I would show you the 
Aussie Spring equivalent!

With grateful thanks to Lady Fi

Linking With Our World Tuesday
Thank you to  hosts:

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mr Wren wants (another) racehorse

With the footy Grand Final behind us 
Melbourne turns her attention,
with a nod of a stylish fascinator,
to the start of the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival.

Today was the Thousand Guineas,
one of the big horse races of the season,
but I didn't go.

I am hatless 
and we are horseless!

For the past five years 
 we have enjoyed life at the races as a bit part Owner.
We never had more than a hoof and a tail...

Twelve months ago our horse 
was even entered for the Caulfield Thousand Guineas 
at one point.

What a difference a year makes!
Today are at home watching the race on the television.
The crazy poodle goes bananas
barking at the horses.

He had an unfortunate experience as a youngster
when he disgraced himself with excitement 
originally over a chicken on the run,
but the whole moment turned completely sour when
he realised he also had the attention of twenty elite thoroughbreds...

The crazy poodle has never forgotten,
and neither have we!

This week our current horse was sold.
Little Miss Hussy is off to enjoy life as a brood mare.
We will be keeping a very close eye on her future foals.

So Mr Wren wants another one...
Our trainer wants us to have another one...
but how to pick out the diamond in the rough
that is the question?

When you enter the world of racehorse ownership
you have to consider it an investment in 
the Victorian racing community with no likely returns,
rather like throwing money down the drain.

Or, like buying a lottery ticket.
You hope that you will be leaping up and down 
at the finishing line yelling 'bingo'
Or perhaps something a tad more appropriate...
Hugging and kissing the other owners 
with big smile on your faces 
whilst the TV cameras capture all the excitement.

And we did!

Unfortunately this was not one of her trophies!
Our thoroughbred filly
was a winner - bless her.
We got a taste of being in the winner enclosure.

She won $120,000 AUD in prize money
from two wins, a second and a third.
Until she was retired through injury.
She was sold for double what we paid for her.

We have just received a cheque for our part of her sale
it covers all the expenses incurred in the two years of ownership
plus some extra.

This is extremely lucky.
Mr Wren wants another one...
Wren has a whole shopping list, 
but can't see racehorse on there!

To be continued...

Linking with Camera Critters and 
Saturday's Critters - Thanks Eileen!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Orange flowers for all seasons!

Whilst my family in Europe  
are starting to think about winter
we're seeing some delightful signs of summer.

 Mum's UK Harvest Festival flowers at church
First of all we bought quarter finals tickets to 
the 2015 Australian Open. 
Apart from the beach, 
nothing scream summer 
more than the tennis!
... oh, and maybe the cricket!

This week was the start of term four
Our son has five days left at school, ever.
So we have various end of year events
Speech Night and Valedictory Dinner, 
and not to mention his final exams,
then he has three months summer holidays off
before university starts.

This weekend I am running in the Run4Refugees team
at the Melbourne marathon
hopefully my knees hold up for 5 kms!
It is going to be 27 degrees
we're in that summer mode of thinking; 
water, sunscreen, hats...

Aussie spring flowers in our park this week
I have modified this picture to join in 
with the wonderful bloggers at 
Mandarin Orange Monday!

Have a lovely week everyone!

Mandarin Orange Monday - Thanks Lori!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Neighbourhood Watch in our street...

I live in a great street in Melbourne.
It is certainly not the best street in our suburb...
We're down the hill from the posh houses of the Golden mile 
and up from the railway line.

It is good.
We get the runoff from the posh peoples' watering systems
and we're closer to the train station in the morning.

OK let's be honest 
so, we're a long way from the posh houses, 
and live on top of the railway line...
We love our street!

We have a street Christmas party where all the neighbours are invited
and we have a pretty good Neighbourhood Watch thing happening.
We do each others bins, mail and pets when we travel
and the big kids babysit the little kids.

When a house is sold we all turn out to see who is moving in.
When the new people buy and bulldose a house
It's impromptu street party time.
We're are all out there with interest!

It's not that easy buying your perfect dream house in Melbourne.
For a start it's consistently voted one of the world's most liveable cities.
Supply and demand has lead to an over inflated housing market.
The Global Financial Crisis did little to quell the market buoyancy.
Sometimes the only way in to the fancy suburbs
 is to buy a knockdown and build!

We've gathered to mourn the loss of a house in the street,
it's a historic moment.
Neighbours recount stories of previous occupants.
As the house goes down 
we see the garden emerge behind
where the chickens used to escape from their chicken coup
and where the foxes
straight from the railway tracks, used to run amuck.

We are joined by our street family of rainbow lorikeets.
They fly from tree to tree squawking in dismay
wondering what all the commotion is about.

So there we all are.
Neighbourhood Watch all lined up.
Until someone says
'Let's hope they did remove all that asbestos!'
and amidst a cloud of dust
we cheerily wave our goodbyes
to get on with our day.

By the time I return
She's gone.
All that remains of her hundred years of history
is some scrap metal
Propped up against the fence.

The place is eerily quiet
no trains, no birds, no house, no nothing...

Well, all that is about to change.
We are happy a very nice family are building their dream house.
We are fortunate they have chosen to do this
rather than subdivide
like many of the blocks around here.

The building has started
It's going to be huge.
Neighbourhood Watch is chuffed.
Welcome to our street.
We hope you'll be very happy here...

Oh, and whilst I've got you,
do you mind doing the bins, post and dog 
when we're next away?!

Linking with 

U is for Upbeat in our Street!
Thanks Jenny - hope you're feeling better soon!