Tuesday, 28 July 2015

#YourHolidayHelps

....may your year ahead be full of
                           exotic journeys and rich adventures.


This was the Happy Birthday message sent to me 
by one of the major hotel chains in March which I rather liked! 


I had no idea that my rich adventures of travel in 2015
would include Vanuatu, 
a tropical South Pacific Island, 
which would be hit by a Tropical Cyclone 
5 days after my birthday. 

Cyclone Pam caused the worst natural disaster in Vanuatu's history.


My husband and son needed a holiday,
Vanuatu needed the tourists to return.
Win - Win!


You need to be in the mood for a tropical paradise
 it’s hard work!
Especially on an Island 
still mopping up 
from the after affects from one of the worst cyclones on record...



You see when I arrived in Vanuatu straight from my city living,
and errmmmm I’ve had a few cities in the past three months
Melbourne - Singapore - Paris - Brussels - London 
ok I can tell you’re not at all sympathetic!
but it’s a problem,
I’m wired all wrong. 


I’m wired for immediacy, 
to be on high alert, 
I get off the plane still clutching my anti-scamming purse close by 
just in case someone tries to pinch my credit cards...

It takes a while winding down so that you don’t get annoyed
 when you have no hot water or the Internet doesn’t work…

Or not to leap out of bed with a loud ‘Tut and a ‘Oh what now’
in response to the cheery knock on the door at 9.15am 
as a beaming lady in the plentiful hibiscus frock
stands at the door, mop in hand calling out sweetly 
“housekeeping”


You have to slow down, 
you have to re program yourself
You have to find your sense of humour and your inner zen.

You need to get into a new time zone

They call it Vanuatu time.
And once you find it, you'll love it
and it will be so very hard to leave...


Linking with the following
With grateful thanks to all the hosts.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Vanuatu

I know, I know you, thought I was in Europe, 
or at least heading back to Australia...?
I was, I did, 
and now I'm on a tropical island in the South Pacific!



You see after three months catching up with family and friends in Europe
I got back to an Aussie winter, and a particularly cold one at that,
to find that Mr Wren and my son, were in desperate need of a holiday
and had booked a week in Vanuatu, including me!



So here I am enjoying a relaxing holiday on Vanuatu, 
an archipelago of 83 islands.
 We're on Efate, only 2-3 hours flying time 
from Australia and New Zealand.

Where the toughest decision you'll make all day is 
whether it's the hammock or the sun loungers ?!



Here the people are the friendliest, happiest 
you'll meet anywhere in the world.



The country is delightfully unspoilt, tropical cyclone Pam aside,
with a delightful fusion of traditional Melanesian culture and 
French and British colonial heritage.



I can't wait to show you around in the next few days
but must dash, got things to do, places to visit


Linking with Skywatch Friday


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bend it Like Beckham...


Or work, travel and see the world.
It's a tough one!

We have a soft spot for the film ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ at our Football Club, we say it was largely responsible for our Club being! The movie certainly showcased changing attitudes to females participating in sport and inspired a whole generation of female footballers across the world. In 2002  at the time of the film, my daughter was playing for an U8 boys team in Melbourne. After the film and the surge in girls wanting to play soccer, our club was formed, and she now plays (and coaches) alongside over 200 girls and women players.

Bend it like Beckham, is a new musical in London’s West End, opening with  perfect timing given the recent Women’s World Cup in Canada. Interest in the sport today is at an all time high. A record 25.4 million Americans watched their country win the Women's World Cup final on US television, other sports are green with envy with those viewing figures.


I have just picked my daughter and a friend up from London Heathrow Airport. They are both Victorian Women’s Premier League (WPL) football players, I greet them, dwarfed under huge backpacks, soccer certainly makes you strong! They are here to do what Australian university students do at this time of year… arriving for a European summer. I stop myself from making the greeting ‘Darling, should we rethink the Greece bit?’

It’s always a tough choice to walk away from your football team mid season, especially one where you walked out last match as Captain, and one that is sitting at the top of the WPL ladder, but my daughter leaves with her team’s blessing to, in the words of her last match report, to ‘ply her trade in Europe.’  An internship awaits with an advertising agency in Amsterdam, a trip of a lifetime to South America will finish the year.

The 2016 New Year will see her return to pre-season training and an internship with Deloitte’s, her friend returns to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers. You see as much as they love the sport of football, they are bright women, they know it’s crazy to put all their soccer balls in one goal. They need options!


Two things are obvious in todays soccer world: Todays Jules and Jess's will need to wait another generation (at least) to get paid the anywhere near enough to put a Bend it Like Beckham football career plan seriously on the table. Players are only one ACL injury away from needing to have a back up plan and without this financial incentive, it will be slow growth. Other sports are managing it, take a bow women's cricket! Move over equal pay at the tennis Grand Slams, football would like some of that treatment.

Our sport may be young but we are growing. In Australia our Socceroos Asian Cup win has been attributed to an explosion of soccer in the suburbs, with over 8,000 young girls registering to play with Football Federation Victoria this season. Our football talent is emerging and will surely be helped by the Australian Matilda's history making performance, the same must be said in  England after the phenomenal support shown for the Lionesses after their heartbreaking exit at the semi-finals.

So with a mix of growing interest in the sport and increased media coverage let's hope the financial playing field evens up just a little. If you could earn a Beckham (or shall we say these days a Messi) salary then it might be worth having a shot at professional goal scoring, but for your average female players you need to keep your life options open…

So they play for the love of the game, for the team spirit, for scoring or stopping that winning goal, and because years ago they watched Bend it Like Beckham the movie and were inspired.



If you want a great fun night out then you will enjoy Bend it Like Beckham, we did! The musical at the Phoenix Theatre, London premiered in April, and is still in review stage. We manage to score walk-in seats from the Box Office door five minutes before curtains up, in the front row of the Upper Circle for 15 GBP, a West End bargain. The theatre was full, word has obviously spread this is a fun, upbeat show, and refreshingly true to the original film in it's words, if not it's action.

Of course we know the film backwards, we can recite all the best lines Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?’  We arrived full of hope to relive those moments back in 2002, hoping the whole theatre would leave wanting to play the World Game. It's a big ask and one which is not delivered, I wanted to see more football or at least more footballing visual affects. 




To be fair 'Bend It', the musical does included in the cast six professional women's soccer players and all credit to those who are prepared to make the gutsy transfer from kicking on turf, to walking the boards. But we did hold our breath with the professional soccer player seeing the intense concentration needed for the football juggling... C'mon pleeeease, we've got to kill the soccer bit, here's the opportunity to inspire 'Bend It' for the next generation.

So whilst the soccer was disappointing, the overall comment from our football players was 'ridiculous, but still fun'. The parts of the show we enjoyed most was the Bollywood side, not as in the initial film the football, which is slightly sad to this crazy soccer Mum. 

The actors received a standing ovation and the audience seemed rapt although the football player next to me struggled at times keeping her eyes open after a gruelling last match on another continent and jet lag! Too much singing and dancing, and not enough football action I suspect.


Linking with Our World Tuesday

With thanks to our hosts





Monday, 6 July 2015

Alice In Oxford


This year marks the 150 Anniversary of 

Lewis Carroll's children's book Alice in Wonderland


Now where to start?
“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” 

If your name is Alice, or you have long blond hair and a blue dress 

you would have been entirely at home in Oxford last weekend.

There were Alices everywhere...

150 to be precise, all there to celebrate 'Alice's Day'



“Curiouser and curiouser!” 
― Lewis Carroll,  Alice in Wonderland


But as I have now been joined in the UK by my daughters,
we are back to the "don't be embarrassing Mother" comments
and I am banned from photographing every gorgeous young Alice!

“Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland


Alice's Day is an annual Oxford event 
of Mad Hatters tea parties, croquet, story telling and workshops 
celebrating Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which was dreamt up on a summers day in Oxford in 1862.



We were actually not in Oxford for Alice, but to end the debate brought on by daughter No 1's boyfriend who knows Cambridge well over which is better Oxford or Cambridge?

“Off with their heads!” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

I am biased, having grown up living close to Oxford.
Of course Oxford is better than Cambridge, it's certainly better than Swindon!

Well... we actually lived closer to Swindon Town.
But out of the UK no one has ever heard of Swindon, 
so I am teased by Mr Wren for telling everyone I come from near Oxford.

In the UK, the concrete kingdom of Swindon is known for it's
railway and manufacturing, and nothing more exciting than the 
Magic Roundabout, a roundabout with six mini-roundabouts in it.

So let's just say Swindon is the rather unglamourous, 
ugly poor relation to Oxford without the history, 
the University connections, or the gorgeous buildings of Oxford.



And so, public disclaimer, that is why I say we lived near Oxford!





Now with Daughter No 1 and her boyfriend
 working for a charity based outside Cambridge
we have two hours, with no particular plan but to impress 
and show off the delights of Oxford. 

“If you don't know where you are going any road can take you there” 
― Lewis Carroll,  Alice in Wonderland

It is a perfect British summers day.
Thankfully slightly cooler than the heatwave that swept the country earlier in the week, and we join the crowds, speaking many tongues,
  wandering in this beautiful city.


“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” 

It's hard not to be impressed by either Oxford or Cambridge
But rather than ramble on with this hard to win argument
I'll just say 
both Oxford and Cambridge are gorgeous 
and I think I'll leave it here for today.
Ice-cream anyone or how about a nice cup of tea?!



Sorry I can't stop...
I'm late, I'm late for a very important date...
Come and join in the 8th Annual Tea Party fun 
with over 100 bloggers at A Fanciful Twist thanks to Vanessa
Must dash!


“Have I gone mad?

I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.” 



Linking with thanks at 


Alice in Wonderland quotes from goodreads.com