Thursday, 31 December 2015

Twenty-Fifteen thanks - you've been great!

2015 a very delightful year!
Family highlights: Schools out for ever! All Kids at University. 
Travel: Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, Belgium, France, Vanuatu
Career highlights: returning to paid employment with Asylum Seekers. 

Isn't it interesting to see your most popular posts, 
compared with what you believe are your best posts ?!

Here are the most viewed each month 
with March's My Sunday Photo "Escape" coming in the winner!

JANUARY
FEBRUARY
Welcome to our Melbourne Madhouse Australia


I love having the Japanese girls to stay!
MARCH
APRIL
MAY
JUNE
Paris memories - France


JULY
AUGUST
SEPTEMBER
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER
My Mumsy Street Art  



Here's a honourable mention to some of the posts who would have won in different months!

Lotus Leaf Painting: Bangkok




Roadtrip Melbourne to Sydney




Melbourne Cup Dream




With thanks to all of you for being with me through out 2015

Wishing you a happy and safe 2016
With love
Wren x







Linking with Mosaic Monday
Thank you Judith
and all the hosts at 

With thanks for a very happy 2016 to everyone!









Monday, 28 December 2015

Danger! The Great Aussie Christmas

I love an Aussie Christmas at the beach
It’s a relaxed, no fuss and bother affair.
Well normally…

Danger! It's Christmas!
We're unusual, 
we clear out of the city for the beach on Christmas Eve,
most of our friends stay in town for Christmas lunch with family,
but for us, with our broader family overseas, it's a lovely escape.

We go to the Mornington Peninsula, one hour out of Melbourne. 
By Boxing Day this place will be heaving.
Melbourne-by-the-sea they call it;
finding a car park will be tricky, 
and we'll bump into more friends here on the Blairgowrie dog beach, 
than we will on any walk in the park back home!

Our Rye beach house is in neighbourhood with mostly permanent homes.
It's become our Christmas Eve tradition, to take a quick stroll around the block.
We like to check out any local building developments 
and to admire the local decorations. 
Or maybe not. 

Perhaps in our dreams, 
no one really bothers at the beach!
Although we do spot a few... ok one, a sign that something is up…

Our neighbours Ho, Ho, Ho declare ’tis the season to be jolly’
In the next street, the Crazy Poodle and I are somewhat taken aback 
with the Christmas spirit on display. 
He sniffs suspiciously and then starts to lift a leg 
“No!” I say firmly, but I must admit I tend to agree with him! 

You see there is absolutely no need to try to keep up with the Joneses here at the beach!
We don't stay out long, it's too hot.
The air conditioner is working flat out, 
but makes little impression.

I was pleased I stopped off at the Peninsula Pantry 
to pick up my pre-ordered quiche, salads, mince pies, gingerbread Xmas tree, 
and some gluten free spinach and feta balls for the girls for dinner. 

I've been back in the country less than 48 hours, 
and done a day at work in all this!
It's too hot to even barbecue.
'You want the quiche hot, forget it!'

After an oppressive, sweaty and ominous night,
we awoke to bright sunlight streaming in through the black-out curtains. 
It was to be the hottest Christmas day for seventeen years.
 For once we were pleased for the 
'all dogs off the beach by 9am' rule
By 9.30am the pavement is too hot for little Santa paws.

Santa Paws is coming to town!
We spend the day in the garden. 
Wild and blustery winds, providing some relief for us from the heat.
Not elsewhere. 
It is the perfect storm for the Bushfire's already raging.

We did cook scrambled egg on the stove top but from then onwards 
we instigated a 'no cooking inside' regime.
 It was a vain attempt to preserve some modicum of comfort. 
A total fire ban existed outside
Weather conditions: extreme. 

Our chocolates melted!
The smoked salmon's only appearance at the table was a brief affair.
Served up along with the champagne for a brief ta-ra,
  the remainders immediately returned back in the fridge.

Across the state of Victoria the same conversations were taking place
'Shall we forgo the traditional Christmas veggies 
and just have a salad instead'?!

Our how to cook the Christmas lunch, was nothing 
compared with the woes of those in Lorne and Wye River across the Bay.
The bush fire came with no respect for tradition.


Gingerbread Christmas tree
One restaurant served up the entire turkey works
before the order; evacuate, evacuate, evacuate came.
Backpackers were at the beach and left with only their swimsuits
before not being able to get back to their campsites.

With friends abandoning Christmas lunches to flee 
or help the Firies at the Country Fire Authority (CFA), 
 news spread about the bush fires raging across the Bay.

We head to the Beach for a quick dip and cool down,
but only for a paddle. 
The strong winds make the waves intense and the rips stronger than usual.
Overhead we see the rescue helicopter, flying up and down the coast line.
Waiting.


Portsea Ocean Beach 


Boxing Day is cooler, a sprinkling of rain brings some relief
but we wake to news that over 120 houses have been lost
but mercifully, with no loss of life.

Our friend's son is a newbie CFA volunteers in his first year.
They are on the breakfast television and on the front page of the Herald Sun.
Local heroes, for defending the town, together with his Dad and the other CFA Wye River Firies as the fire raged.

He is now 22 years old, 
but it seems like only yesterday the kids 
were all starting school together...

How was your Christmas?

Linking with thanks to the hosts at the following:






Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Ding Dong Merrily From High!


Wordless Wednesday

[ I'm on the way back to Australia and couldn't resist Blogging from the skies.
I love Wifi on airplanes! 
Here is the best of my British Chrissy photos!]
Hark! The Herald Angels sing
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer: Oxfordshire Pubs
I saw three ships come sailing by....Bristol by day and night
In The Bleak Mid Winter: Carols at Shrivenham, Oxon by day and night
Oh Come All Ye Faithful:  advent wreath with candles 
The Holly And The Ivy: Longcot village church door
O Holly Night: Longcot Parish Church, Oxfordshire
Linking with thanks to the following - Merry Christmas one and all!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Just Brussels sprouts and that's no lie!

[Warning the post below may contain language that could offend :) ]

I'm in all sorts of trouble, and all because of my Brussels sprouts joke.
Now in the festive season, Brussels sprouts are everywhere
Oh the memories, the horror... the shame!



In my defence, I’d like to put it out there,
 I’m not a hater, nor prejudiced against these little green edible buds.
 I'm a Brussels sprout lover!
There I've said it now!

Wow! It appears, you either love 'em or hate them don't you?


So when you find a restaurant that makes Brussels sprouts into a dish that everyone likes, 
you want to tell the world about it - right?

And I did. 
I wrote a Trip Advisor review for The Good Table restaurant 
in Castlemaine, Vic in Australia 
saying how fabulous their Brussels sprouts were.
I thought they'd be chuffed, 
but they never got to read my report, as the Trip Advisor computer said 'No!'

It was probably my fault as I had Brussels sprouts in the headline.
Yep, daft I know, but I had no idea the world was so anti-Brussels.



It's a shame really in today's day and age 
that we can't all live peacefully together, 
those that love Brussels sprouts, and those that don't...
I don't see any need for e-mails containing hate speech or personal insults. 

Look, I know the Brits have a love hate relationship with Brussels sprouts.
On one hand, no self respecting Christmas lunch would be the same without sprouts, on the other hand, are those who can't wait to say Brussels be gone!
Lurking, waiting with bated breadth for the 'set us free' referendum 
that David Cameron, PM has offered.


Here's my disclaimer I am rather Pro Brussels, all it's forms
politically and vegetarian'ally...

We go back a long way.
We lived in this glorious city for 8 years, my son was born there.
Of course we love the bleeding Brussels sprouts!



Look I expect it's the same for the French with fries, 
or the Turkish with their delight, 
Doesn't everyone adore their food name sakes?!

Well, I had no idea how strong the opposition was, 
I guess haters are gonna hate, but to ban my review on the basis of:

objectionable language or images (Sorry about the "Bleeding")
Profanity
Obscenity or vulgarity
Racial/ethnic slurs
Hate speech or prejudiced comments
Personal insults
Hostile comments and threatening language...

I only said Brussels Sprouts...




I mean I do think it's a bit rich to have such a strong reaction to

Sauteed Brussels SproutsGarlicFennel SeedFettaCroutons ...

But this is what I my offensive title (writing it small so as not to offend!)
'The BEST Brussels Sprouts in the World and that's no BS!'

And this is what Trip Advisor sent:

'All the standard curse words are banned (you know what they are), and we will remove reviews and posts that contain clever (or not clever) misspellings of curse words intended to circumvent our content filters as well as acronyms for inappropriate phrases'.

Well you can imagine I turned colder than my freezer.
I like to push the envelope, but what ???? 



 I did think it was a funny title,
Hopefully the Trip Advisor team had me down as one of the clever ones...
and that the TA office had a giggle before they went 'nope!' Send!
Me and my acronyms, they always get me into such deep water.

I had almost forgotten about my sprout saga
I was invited to redo my review but never did. 
I took a deep breath, moved on. 
However at this time of year,
 the sight of these little green festive bundles of Christmas joy 
brings it all back!
Do you like Brussels sprouts ???






Monday, 14 December 2015

My Mumsy Street Art!

Go Banksy go!

The rebel in me has always had a soft spot for street art.

It's the wild creative that appeals.

Speaking the honest truth with a spray can.

Nicholson Street, Footscray, Vic, Australia
It's hard to know how to reply when asked in Bristol, UK this weekend: 
"have you ever used a spray can before?"

'How do you know I'm not a world famous street artist from Australia?'
'Or the real Banksy?' I ask.


Footscray,Vic, Australia Street Art
My absolute hero is Banksy.

I love the dark humour of the Bristol street artist 
whose real identity remains unknown.
 I admire his willingness to tackle head on the issues of the day.

Banksy and Little Wandering Wren: two peas in a pod - ha!


Banksy has the week, depicted Steve Jobs, Apple founder 
and Syrian migrant, on a wall of a migrant and refugee camp in France.
Further along the wall are the words 'no-one deserves to live this way'

Having worked with Refugees and Asylum Seekers for the past three years
this gets my attention, and happily makes big world news.



So I find myself in Banksy's home town of Bristol, UK
on the weekend, spray can in hand...

I'm not sure this Mumsy can quite carry off the hip street artist in disguise?

Maybe it was the faint look of relief
when told 'we have rubber gloves if you need?' which gave it away.
Of course I declined and 
now have a hint of red paint on my coat to prove the error of that decision.


Banksy's distinctive stencilling technique means that any old Mumsy
can try her hand at his "quality vandal" art work.

Here at the WheretheWall Calendar club in Cabot Circus
home of the 12 Artists in 12 Weeks (plus Wren!) Street Art exhibition
I enjoy creating my first Mumsy!

Mumsy at work, Bristol, uk
Are you ready for the big unveiling?


Here she is Girl with Balloon
By Mumsy with love!

An original Mumsy: Balloon Girl

Linking with:
Warm Heart Wednesday  Thanks to Jenny
Monday Murals thanks to Oakland Daily Photos
  Mosaic Monday thanks to Judith at Lavender Cottage



Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Christmas countdown...

  'Are we getting an advent calendar?' my 19 year old son asks hopefully?
'Nah, you're too old' I reply!
Then out shopping I couldn't resist, and bought an advent calendar...
Which I presented to my youngest with a Ta-ra!

'Thanks Mum, you're the best!'
Which did make me feel a tad guilty...

The age of innocence...
Because every year we tell the advent calendar story.
The one of many moons ago, when we lived in a far away land 
the land that chocoholics dream about - Belgium.
Where I could have bought some local Godiva chocolates
But no!

They don't call me 'the best' Mother for nothing.
drove to the British shop, Stonemanor in Everberg 
and splashed out many, many francs, it was well before the Euro.
I bought him a Cadbury's Dairy Milk advent calendar.

These ones were special, 
not one single chocolate behind each purple window, but a whole bar.
Yumm...

He's grown a bit since but we still like to tell the tale!
I took my life into my own hands driving home on the November icy roads
carefully avoiding those crazy 'priorite a droit' drivers who could legally
 enter the main roads at breakneck speeds.

On Dec 1st I presented all three children with the advent calendars: Ta-ra!
But by Dec 2nd disappointment kicked in, we had a faulty batch.
One of our daughters was missing her chocolate.

By December 5th the four year old thief 
got too greedy and ate the whole lot of his sisters remaining chocolates.
Resealing the windows so cleverly, 
that had it not been for a careful examination of forensic proportions, 
his crime may have remained uncovered,
well for nineteen years!


'Hang on a mo, is this for the dog?'
'Yes!' I squeaked, so pleased with my gotcha moment!
'Muuuuuuuuummmm!!!!!!'

Now the Crazy Poodle, unlike my four year old son
took a while to master the delights of his advent calendar.
He was a bit suspicious of the whole yoghurt drop a day
what sort of silly outfit will I have to wear now palava?

Love this photo - that tongue is on the box!
But I am happy to say that the Crazy Poodle 
has now embraced the whole Christmas countdown advent calendar  
what ever will they think of next thingy,
 with such gusto, that December 26th 
is going to be a very sad day in his doggy world!


Linking with 
Thursday Favourite Things - Thanks and with love to Katherine
Saturday's Critters - Thanks and with love to Eileen
Warm Heart Wednesday - Thanks and with love to Jenny
Our World Tuesday - Thanks to all the hosts







<

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Blogging on high!

Goosie, Goosie Gander where shall I wander....

Here I am in seat 27G 
which is waaaaaaay too far back in the airplane for me, 
but guess what, I'm very happy here!

Christmas flags at Richmond Station, 2015
I'm on my way to Abu Dhabi, then London.
And whoo hoo, I'm on Wifi thanks to Ethiad Airlines.
It's my first blog written
 cruising at an altitude of 34,000 feet 
and travelling at a ground speed of 927 km per hour, 
and I think that's pretty cool.

In fact it's very, very cool
the outside temperature is -39.0 celsius - ho ho ho...

Australian Eucalyptus in full flower
So I am returning the UK
for a quick visit and sadly a family funeral.
If it wasn't under such circumstances 
I'd be happy to have achieved what every woman really wants 
at this time of year: two weeks away and just 'beam me up Scotty.'
I'm back on December 22nd when everything's done.
Prepared and ready.

Christmas - it's exhausting just thinking about it!
Our Aussie Christmas is really casual.
We don't really do presents.
I always work on the basis 'I'd rather do, than have'
So we're all getting or giving a charity donation to help those
suffering at the hands of the sex slave industry on the Thai - Burmese border :)

Australian natives in Spring
I knew you'd be impressed!

Look it might seem a tad random to you, and my 19 year old son
who will no doubt open up his card with a 'whaaat the ....'? 
But we met some remarkable Sisters doing some great work at a charity fundraising dinner the other night at a posh golf course in Melbourne.

Well the Nun's were visiting, just there to tell their story really, 
they were not really into the golf, 
and it was either donate direct, or bid on the silent auction 
for various items that we didn't need like a Porsche pedal car...

Barwon Heads Golf Club, Victoria another posh golf club
So we've made a contribution on behalf of everyone.
Well not everyone, everyone.
Everyone in our family.

Yes I know it's different from our usual gift aid of 
a well in Cambodia, or a toilet in India AND
just so I don't get any complaints about my 
over the top 'Save the World' approach to presents, 
we're also helping out the Myanmar tourist industry BIG time
with a holiday to explore the sights in February as the another present for each other.  Get the link? Good huh!
Presents done. Tick. 


Crazy Poodle at Rye beach last Christmas. 
We don't do decorations, we're at the beach.
Who can be faffed taking a whole load of Santas and Chrissy decorations 
to the beach for a week?
A few seashells on the table and we're good to go.

Gone Surfing Aussie Christmas tree decorations
 We don't make a lot of fuss over food either
Or so I thought...
You see you either go traditional 
which is the full turkey, Christmas pud and the works, 
or you go Aussie. 
Which is generally fish and toss a few prawns on the barbie
add in a pavlova meringue with cream with fruit on top for pudding
and happy days.

Coffee at the Boathouse, Manly, Sydney
Mr Wren says 'don't worry about the food' leave it to him. 
Which was great. 
Until he started talking about wanting a goose!

'A goose, we can't have a goose, no one has a goose!
What sort of a Christmas do you call that?'
Out comes my inner control freak.
Gone are the thoughts
 'Isn't it wonderful, the family are organising Christmas?’

Santa at the Melbourne Star
Anyway all that was 8000 km’s behind me
Oh look we're now over Bengaluru
That's exciting!
I wonder if they're having goose for Christmas lunch in Bangaluru?!



Linking with thanks to all the hosts at
Blue Monday, Mosaic Monday and Our World Tuesday