Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bluebell woods at Badbury Clump

"If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise..."
Henry Hall - Teddy Bears Picnic

You can't beat a walk through a carpet of bluebells
with the sunshine dappling through the trees.
It's one of life's uplifting free pleasures.

I've been coming to the Bluebell Woods 
at Badbury Clump in Oxfordshire 
since I was a child riding through on my pony.
2015 is shaping up to be an epic year!

It's something to do with a mild February 
and the driest March in forty years
which means Spring has come early in these 'ere parts.

Having just arrived in the UK from an Aussie autumn
it's a true "Honey, I'm home" moment.

It's lovely to be back!
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Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Day Dawn Service, 25th April 2015

Today we joined Australian and New Zealand communities 
all over the world for an ANZAC Day dawn service.

Our service was held at the Kranji War Memorial Cemetery, Singapore,
 hosted by the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners.

We weren't alone, we left our hotel at 5.30am,
 and arrive in a steady convoy of taxis, 
it's way too early for the trains!

We walk in silence.

The 4,500 gravestones at Kranji, 
emerge from the shadows
in silent observation of events.

Once there, it is a well organised, dignified affair.
Public to the left and right,
official guests and dignitaries, straight up the middle.

The Anzac Day dawn service is the same the world over;
a military order, school children and scouts,
national anthems, wreath layers from all walks of life
and usually a slightly dodgy bugler or bagpipe players,
and despite the former, a haunting last post.
Followed by an uplifting Gunfire Breakfast.

We love the familiarity.
Even though we are new Australian citizens,
the ANZAC dawn service is now something we do!

Last year Hong Kong, this year Singapore,
I whisper to my husband
'Let's make sure 2016 is somewhere good too!'

We know our service here in Singapore 
will mirror services already held in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. 
The same words will be spoken for the 10,000 people 
who have made the journey over to Gallipoli, Turkey
in this the centenary year.

By 5.45 am it is standing room only.
No-one complains.
 A warm, muggy Singapore day breaks,
Whilst the School choir launch into 'Always Remember', 
the birds chirp their own loud dawn chorus from in the trees.
Swifts stretch their wings,
swooping and diving as if excited to see us.

So what is this day that we are celebrating 
and why do we celebrate 
what the BBC describes as a military disaster?!

Anzac Day is one of those days that our friends from far off lands 
often know very little about. 
But for Aussies and Kiwis it is an important 
national day of remembrance, 
a day in which the ANZAC spirit was forged.

ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day 
is the anniversary of the landing of troops from Australia and New Zealand 
on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, in World War I on April 25, 1915. 
The bravery of all military personnel who participated in this campaign 
and the lives of those who died in all military actions are remembered.

ANZAC day is celebrated Australia-wide,
we even get a day's holiday in Victoria,

provided April 25th does not fall on a weekend.

We stand side by side with war veterans, 
with current servicemen and women,
with families remembering their lost ones
Parents take their children to learn, to experience,
to join an important commemoration from the Homeland.
Not to be missed.

We all reflect on the tragedy, 
the sacrifice and waste of war.
This seems particularly poignant in 2015,
the centenary of Anzac Day.

Away from all the action as the chairs are being tidied away
a small gecko suns himself on the top of a tombstone.
He carries his own war wound, his tail damaged.

I sit with him and wonder if the world is learning.
In recent days, 
we see news headlines of an alleged terrorist plot to attack 
Anzac Day proceedings in my home city, Melbourne.

Our Premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians
to join in the ANZAC Dawn Services.
To commemorate ANZAC Day and sacrifices made,
 so that we can live a free life.

We listened, we turned out in record numbers this year across the globe.
We pay tribute to all those who have served.
Lest we forget

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy Anzac Day 2014 in Hong Kong

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Thursday Favourite Things 

What do we remember on Anzac Day?
This is a potential question on the Australian citizenship test
  • A) The landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove
  • B) The arrival of the first free settlers from Great Britain
  • C) The landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, Turkey
Answer: C) 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Have Bull’s Pen’s can travel!

Three months in Europe
with a stop over in Singapore.
Here I come!

I think I have remembered to pack everything.
Certainly anything remaining has been 
washed, polished and tidied away.

Well, maybe not in the study...
 I am not Wonder Women!
 I’ve been busy.

The house is clean, and all the sheets changed.
Car was washed, and I even vacuumed the soccer muddy car mats.
My yoga mat is rolled and stored
Surely I will be Zen enough, without yoga for the duration…

I have had appointments galore from the hairdresser,
to my mammogram.
I’m fit to leave!

The dog’s also had the right royal treatment.
He's been clipped, scrubbed and had his nails done.
Snap! Me too!
 Well if the Crazy Poodle gets a pedicure, 
then so do I…

He’s got a shiny new bling bone dog tag 
with new contact phone numbers
and along those lines, 
I’ve told Security, not to phone me when the house alarm goes off
because a spider has walked across the sensor.
Although, thinking about it, it's unlikely 
as I've dusted all cobwebs away...

Does anyone else do this, before a holiday?
Go into manic, overdrive & leaving
a house that is neater, cleaner, tidier than normal?
I thought I'd remembered everything...

AND then I remembered the dog food!
Rats! I am happy to leave the kids no food
they are all adult enough to fend for themselves,
but Mutt, well he’s a different story!

So off I trot down to our local Pet shop
Where a very nice young man 
suggests a new all Australian dog food ‘Meals for Mutts’ 
I take a humongous sack of salmon and sardine, 
good for his coat!

We’ve just got enough time to introduce it gradually, 
to avoid any potential for an upset stomach…
Ha, it never crossed my mind just to leave him with the big bag 
and trust to luck, 
The dog’s got gastro! 
That would be a good family test...

Yes, I'm the only one going on this little adventure...

‘So what about toys or chews? 
I need to keep him happy and entertained, 
I’m gone a long while…’

At this stage I reckon if your vegetarian, vegan, 
or a just wee bit squeamish, 
then I’d flick to your next blog… 

And even if you’re none of the above,
 I do apologise for what you are about to read…


Yes, I’d recommend this bag of Bull’s penis’, 
the shop assistant says, looking a tad embarrassed.
Pardon?’ I say? 

Wondering whether what I thought I’d heard, 
was correct?

I mean surely if this was in the UK or America, 
they’d be a Ma'am or Madam, 
in there somewhere round the P word?

‘It’s bulls penis’ 
he repeated slowly, 
as if I was hard of hearing, although still whispering!
'There’s twenty in the pack and the dogs really …'

I can’t remember what he said next, 
as I’m studying the packet intently.
It doesn’t say that on the packet’, 
I say doubtfully looking at the Bullie Stick label…

‘Yes, well, 
If they called it bulls dicks 
no-one would buy them, would they?’

Oh my golly gosh. 
The language of the youth of today!

There wasn’t really any answer to this, 
except what I ended up saying
and for some reason,
 I drop all attempts at an Aussie accent
and in my best British voice reply:

'Oh, I see. 
Thank you very much, 
I will have a packet of those as well!'

So I’m sorry to have (yet again) lowered the tone 
you'll see why I had to doctor the 
‘Have Bulls Pens, can travel‘ headline
You see if I’d have used the word PEN…..IS 
I’d have got all sorts of undesirables visiting my blog.
I’m so glad it’s just you, me and the dog, 
I knew you’d have a giggle!

Here, have some Singapore orchids to brighten your day!

So all sorted 
Let the adventure begin

Next stop Singapore!

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Melbourne's Autumn glory.

Autumn has arrived in Melbourne
with her "where are my slippers?" chilly nights,
but with glorious golden "pass me my sunnies*" days.

Our local streets are resplendent at the moment,
our tree lined streets
adorned with a myriad of colours.

Soon the branches will be bare...

Autumn Streets in Camberwell, Vic

Our Council sweeps our streets monthly,
but from April 20th some streets qualify for the extra
Heavy Leaf-Fall sweeping program.

The Council requests that we keep vehicles off the street
on designated sweeping days.
The sweeper truck whooshes along clearing
and washing away all the leaves.
Crazy Poodle champion leaf catcher.
Our home street, despite its many trees
is not one such street.
No special extra street sweeping for us...

But not to worry!
We've got the Crazy Poodle.
His coat is like velcro to the leaves...

A quick scamper down the street,
he stops for a wee at every tree anyway...
and by the end of the road, he's accumulated 
more leaves than any heavy leaf-fall sweeping program!

He's knackered by the end of it all.
It's a tough gig working as an unpaid employee
of the Council...

* Sunnies - sunglasses

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Friday, 10 April 2015

My Melbourne madhouse continued...

Five on Friday: 

My week in a nutshell!

1. I'm counting down to my 11 weeks in Europe, and it's frantic. 
I haven't exactly lost the plot yet and taken all my clothes off 
to meditate towards the ocean
 but ....

Easter walk at Somers beach, Mornington Peninsula
2. We did have a much talked about Family night at a burlesque show at Easter
which our (adult) kids warned us was going to be 
'all naked women and nipple tassels...'
"Don't be silly" I said, 
"It's Spiegelious! 
They've hired a Belgium Spiegeltent, 
it's a classy show 
it's like Cirque du Soleil just in our seaside town.

I was right it was classy. 
The girls had nude coloured undies 
and lots of gold and sparkling diamonds...

Ha! We all had a great night but... 
Spegelicious tent, Sorrento, Mornington Peninsula
3. Eighteen year old Son perhaps still traumatised from 2 above, 
well, the bit about going with his parents... 
wasn't concentrating at Soccer training, 
or went in for a brilliant tackle, which ever way you look at it, 
and has broken his ankle...
Do you like his natty footwear?

Stepping out in Melbourne
4. In preparation for my big trip,
we did a gigantic Costco shop.
  I bought a mammoth supply of loo roll. 
Well I don't want the family to be caught short whilst I'm away... 

It was a only a little bit hard to carry into the house,
 with crutches, and still learning to be less wobbly in a moon boot. 

No, of course I'm not leaving any food or anything else. 
They've got to miss me you know, 
and find it hard... 
Haven't they?

Returning from Costco@!
5. Various trips to the Melbourne Comedy Festival
have brightened the week,
 Well you have to laugh don't you?

Moon over Southbank Melbourne

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Five on Friday

Friday, 3 April 2015

Good Friday Royal Children's Hospital Appeal, Melbourne

Easter in Melbourne
is a glorious four day holiday weekend. 

Amidst the hot cross buns and Easter eggs,
it's hard to escape two big events in our city:

the start of the Australian Football League AFL season...
Go Hawks!

 our Good Friday Appeal.

Across the city, fundraisers are out in force collecting
for our Royal Children's hospital.
Last year the Good Friday Appeal raised over 16 Million
 a staggering amount that they are hoping to exceed this year.

Having raised three children in Melbourne 
I am very happy to say 
I had never visited the Royal Children's Hospital
until this week, 
when I visited for coffee with a friend who was working there. 

For me, arriving on foot from across the parkland, 
and not in an ambulance with a sick child, 
I was able to appreciate the architectural beauty of the buildings
and the bushland Parkville setting.

City Views and glorious parkland surround the RCH
Once inside you notice the many child-centred activities 
that create the fun environment.
From a two story real coral reef aquarium,
the bean bag cinema,
or the Scienceworks hands on experience.

You are left with a feeling of what a wonderful building,
one that you hope you never have to use,
but if you do, you can see the immense amount of thought and design
to give children to best experience possible whilst in hospital.

The aquarium and some of the many interactive displays
It is no wonder that our Children's hospital is considered 
a world leader in child and adolescent health.

They seem to have thought of everything.
 The building is light full of natural light 
with many interactive indoor 
and outdoor play areas at every turn.

Alexander Knox: Creature at the Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital
One area I especially loved was the open air Meerkat enclosure
developed in partnership with Zoos Victoria.
These cheeky little critters,
so full of life, were entertaining young and old
with their boundless energy.

Spot the Meerkats!
The Meerkats are looked after by zoo keepers 
from the nearby Melbourne Zoo.

MRCH was the first hospital in the world to permanently
exhibit live animals, the zoo keepers cycle across the park
 on their bicycles to bring the Meerkats their food.

Judging by the numbers of children and adults
enthralled and enjoying watching, 
 the inquisitive Meerkats, they look a massive hit.

Meerkat enclosure Royal Children's Hospital for Saturday's Critters
Tonight we are watching the appeal updates 
on the television,
So far they have raised nearly 14 million
for this worthy cause.

Well done to all involved!

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