Saturday, 31 December 2016

Flies, Floods and Festivities


I'm rather pleased with our Christmas this year!
Thanks to our friends Down Under and the warm weather.
I salute you all!

Of course that's an "Aussie salute" to also shoo the flies away.
Melbourne is experiencing a weird summer with a fly plague.
We've just had the warmest Christmas in eighteen years
followed by flash flooding in Melbourne.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures from our Christmas 
at the beach on the Mornington Peninsula:
Antlers with a beachy twist was the theme!
We do have the nicest friends, who knowing we were overseas until just before Christmas, fill up our fridge with all sorts of wonderful goodies, make a girdle buster ice cream pudding, and arrive bringing with them the turducken; turkey, with duck and chicken, cooked to perfection on their barbecue. 

On account of it being bleedin' hot, I instigated a 
TOB - Total Oven Ban. 
So salads were mostly the order of the day. 
Which caused a few problems with the must-have roast potatoes and parsnips. 
Cooked, or should I say incinerated, on the barbecue. 
But then who can blame Mr Wren for not wanting to go out in the heat of the day to check on them! Fortunately I don't have any photos!

I do have photos however, of some wonderful walks we enjoyed ...

Number Sixteen Beach, Rye
Sorrento Ocean Beach
We had a lovely surprise on Boxing Day, a last minute invite for sundowners on Port Phillip Bay on this gorgeous catamaran:

Blairgowrie pier, waiting for pick up
We weren't the only ones admiring the cat, 
as we were joined by a pod of dolphins playing and racing alongside for a while.
That was a pretty special boating on the bay experience!


I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, do share!


Friday, 23 December 2016

I'll be home for Christmas (or not)

Well here we have it the Final Countdown
Don't you find it funny the way you think in songs at this time of year? 
I think it's all that surreptitious brainwashing of Christmas background music!


The one song that I keep have going round in my head is: 

'I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me'

Which is a bit of a joke in our family. In fact last week 
all five of us were in different countries, on four different continents!

It's not the first time we need a spreadsheet to work out where everyone is!



'Please have snow and mistletoe 

And presents on the tree' 


Well snow is a big ask for the Australian crowd as it's going to be a hot one.
 A top of 35 degrees celsius (95°F) in Melbourne,
Adelaide will be the hottest city in the world!

It's similar to last year when summer rules apply
If it can't be cooked on the barbecue forget it,
 it's turkey and some posh salads.
Here's what happened to the chocolates!



We don't really do presents, so that's out
Each of the kids are getting a flight to visit us in Thailand

Mr Wren would say we don't really do the tree either!
Argh now the tree, 
that's a bit contentious in our family as we have a fake one! 
I love my Costco tree.

All is calm, all is very, very bright!


Does anyone else have a right royal punch-up over the Christmas tree or is it only our family? You see my lot, going back to their European heritage think it's not Christmas without a real tree. But a real tree does not do well in Australia, it's too hot and they make me sneeze... 
and as I'm the only one to organise anything, well up goes the Costco fake tree!
'Christmas eve will find me

Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams'
Happy Christmas everyone, may yours be merry and bright too!




Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas Card Exchange

Can you imagine what a nightmare it must be
when your blog is called Fairy Bluebells Craft Adventure and your drawn 
with Little Wandering Wren for Amy's annual Christmas Card swap? 

Well fortunately we ended up being beautifully matched because there is nothing I like better 
than a traditional English snowy Christmas card. Here is Debbie's card below.
Thank you Debbie it has been lovely to meet you here.


They say past behaviour predicts future behaviour 
so poor Debbie drew the short, and rather long distance expensive straw, 
when she was allocated an Australian blogger with as much crafting talent as a rock.

We're not talking an Uluru, Ayers Rock sort of a rock,
and yep I reckon you could count on one hand the amount of craft posts I have done...


I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking to add in Christmas card making into the mix 
of packing up and leaving Australia.
Except that it seemed like a lovely idea!
Zen Wren here I come.

When, I couldn't believe my luck, a dear friend 
invited me for a night of Christmas champagne and card making - Yes there is a God!

Back in the day, and we're talking nearly twenty years ago, I confess to hosting a card making event.
It was one of those light bulb moments, when you are staring down the barrel of who you really are.
Amongst my friendship group I am surrounded by perfectionists. I like things well done,
 and admired their intricate designs and perfect cuts. 

They say opposites attract...
 I realised, having made copious cards, many saying Merry 'ristmas 
that I was destined for a life where the motto of 'near enough is good enough'
was perfect for Little Wandering Wren!


Twenty years on, I am about to move to a country where I have all the time in the world.
I know no-one and have nothing to do (at the moment - wink!)
I could re-invent myself as anything I want, within reason.

I had also, already written our 2016 Christmas cards with the big new announcement
'sorry to be messing up your address books again but we're moving to Bangkok' 
and so no need for Merry 'ristmas cards this year.

 Here is the end result of our Champagne and card making evening:
two cards from Wren (you can see the little bird I copied above) with plenty of glitter.
I figured my new life can be full of sparkle!


If Mr Wren is reading this that could either mean 
sparkling seas at lovely Thai beaches or diamonds!

Happy Christmas!





Monday, 19 December 2016

Oh Christmas Tree!

Christmas trees I've seen a few, 
but rarely has a Christmas tree stopped me in my tracks 
quite like the one at the Sofitel, Bangkok Sukhumvit.
Wow, it is delightful.


 It's hard to get a decent photo amidst the busy foyer entrance
but I don't remember a Christmas tree that has me drawn me in,
wandering round and around, like this one!


Every where you look there is something interesting.
From the choice of books 'Beautiful Youth' to the rich luxurious cushions,
candles and gifts just waiting to be unwrapped...


Just look at the detail, can you spot the reading glasses?
They've used hundreds of books through out the hotel.


Of course on top there is something special
Not a tired old fairy, or a wobbly star,
but a whole black chandelier.
So tall, it almost reaches the foyer ceiling lights.
Oh the fun they must have had designing this tree! 


The book theme is central to the Sofitel's Christmas decorations
and the staff are all happy to tell you the story of a young boy William,
whose favourite time of year was Christmas and he loved the Christmas tree.


One year his Father made a Christmas tree of books
and told young William and his brother 
that every night in December they would read one of the books.


Now William is the General Manager of Accor Hotels
It's a cute story, as is the one of the staff making all the Christmas trees
I especially liked these ones above on upturned wine glasses!

It makes it a bit tricky to read the book, or to drink the wine
but there we have it, a fun party idea for Christmas day perhaps?

We've just spent a lovely weekend at the Sofitel Sukhumvit*
looking at places to live for our upcoming move to Bangkok.



* Product Disclosure: None! We paid for our own rooms :)

Linking with thanks and a Happy Christmas 
to the team and all the bloggers 



Sunday, 11 December 2016

Dogs N Grog

Tis the season to be jolly!
We're looking forward to another ocean beach Christmas.
It's casual, relaxed affair. Just us, our friends and four dogs!


There is a wonderful 'Dogs N Grog' Christmas tradition in our Melbourne park. 
All the dog owners are invited for festive drinks in the park with their pooches. 
The beauty of a summer Christmas.

It's a casual chaotic affair by all accounts - bring a bottle and a dog or two.
It pretty much sums up how our Christmas will be.



And the really good news is that I've found the gin, 
goodness knows where the brandy's gone and sherry forget it.

So proud was I of my gin find, I decided to make a feature of it.
What do you think?
I'm not doing much (read anything) in the way of Christmas decorations...
So I was rather proud of this effort - hic!
Well, I'm just about to fly to Bangkok for a weeks house hunting,
and we're not having Christmas here in Melbourne anyway.
I know, excuses, excuses!


By the time we eventually get to the beach, I'm hoping it will be a relaxed affair... 
Good friends, a few dogs, some long walks and a whole load of grog!
And afterwards in my perfect Christmas plan
We'll all have a little snooze and let the sleeping dogs lie!


What does your perfect Christmas look like?!
Linking with thanks to Eileen at Saturday's Critters
And the team at Our World Tuesday 






Friday, 2 December 2016

No music, no dancing, no alcohol!

1. Welcome to our Aussie Summer!

Yep we're officially in Summer and it feels good.
The house is quiet. With University over, the kids are away,
and this empty nester is free as a bird!



2. Daughter Number Two has been in Cuba this week celebrating the end of Uni life. This is her latest text: "Cuba is amazing, but has become a strange place as they are mourning the death of Fidel Castro. No music, no dancing, no alcohol'

How many of you are like me, worry wart parents, when your kids are travelling? Well, doesn't this just sound perfect to you? It did to me!

Gold Coast Summer, Queensland, Australia
3. I would love to travel to Cuba, if we can get there quickly! She writes: "You must come to Cuba, it is fascinating and I keep thinking you would all enjoy it. It is safe and everyone is friendly and until Fidel's death there was a fun Caribbean vibe. Lots of history, pretty and an interesting way of life."


Of course we wrote back "no music, no dancing, no alcohol, no way!"





4. We're not doing too well with our travel recently. Some of you may know that we are moving to Bangkok, next year. Mr Wren turns up in Thailand just as King Bhumimibol Aduladej of Thailand died. A year-long period of mourning was subsequently announced. 

Our Australian Foreign ministry has advised us to:

"Refrain from any behaviour that may be interpreted as 
festive, disrespectful or disorderly" 


I did ask my husband whether we could delay moving, just for a few, ok ten months. I mean "no music, no dancing no alcohol" ... a year, is a long time!


5. I have some very dear American friends who are not happy about recent political events. On hearing that our family has been in Thailand for the death of the King, in Cuba for the death of Fidel Castro, they asked hopefully "you're not planning a holiday in Washington DC by any chance on Friday, January 20th, 2017?" Sooo disrespectful, but it did make me smile!



Well, as we are still living in Australia, 
here's to a fully festive, disrespectful and disorderly Christmas.  
Can someone pass me a drink please?!


Linking with Thanks to Amy at Love Made my Home




Friday, 18 November 2016

A extraordinary education… the greatest gift


It's been a big week in our house as University is out, roll on Summer! Our kids have had a privileged, global education. For this we will be forever grateful. It is put in context through my work with refugees and people seeking asylum with no work or study rights. Education is truly a gift.

We weren't sure Daughter Number Two would ever make it through school, let alone graduate with two degrees. You see she was expelled from her first school after only ten days. This week she graduates from the University of Melbourne with a Masters degree.


Melbourne University - Open Day.
She's been to a few schools, way more than you can count on two hands, her education has been conducted on six continents. In her first twenty years of life, she had the opportunity to learn French at schools in Belgium and France, pick up Chinese in Hong Kong and to even get a smattering of Spanish in South America.

She chose the International Baccalaureate at school in Australia and went to Tanzania with World Challenge. At University she studied on exchange at New York University and completed an internship in Chile. As a Post Graduate she worked as an intern in Amsterdam. She was due to go out for dirty martinis with her fellow students yesterday but she finished the final exam with an hour and a half spare, so she came home to pack.

Yes you're right, she's not going to spend the summer hanging around in Australia when there is still much of the world to explore. Of course her Mother made sure she had a head start in life. Given that she moved to Belgium at ten days old and that there is free schooling from the age of two and a half years, I of course ensured that we had her name down to start school the day she was eligible. Even though that was only two weeks before the break up for the long summer holiday. We wanted her to settle in, before her brother was born in August.

It was all going well, or so I thought. I was just getting the hang of putting my make-up on before the school drop off - oh those French Mums, they were so elegant even at 8.15 am! Of course we threw her into the same French Ecole Maternelle de Stockel as her Sister. Sure, it was a bit of a struggle linguistically for her Mother, but we were coping.

Until the day I was called into the Principal's office, along with my French dictionary. Remember this was waaaaay before Google translate. I still remember it well, the shame, embarrassment, the confusion - was she being kicked out or what? The word termine sounded familiar!

I appears, that we started her early. You see maths was never my strong point, which is why we are super pleased to have two daughters who have graduated. Bless! She was only two years and five months. Termine. Come back in September.

Oopsie, I hope she realises how lucky she's been to have extraordinary education. They do after all say the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra!








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Monday, 14 November 2016

Meanwhile out on the Bay!


I'd like to say I've had a lifetime messing about in boats, but I haven't. So it sure was nice having Steve Ross, of Riptide Charters to design our perfect boating escape on the Mornington Peninsula. 


Blairgowrie Marina - Photo credit S Johnson
We weren't asking for much. I have international visitors staying, so the brief was to take us out for a few hours, show us some sights, a bit of wildlife and a few dolphins! 

What we got, was an unforgettable morning cruising on the stunning Port Phillip Bay. We loved the history, the birds and seals galore, with the opportunity to take some great photos!


The Blairgowrie Marina is a great place to start and play that game "when I'm rich and famous I'll buy that yacht there", and oh, how the other half live, as our own private chartered boat is ready and waiting. We clamber aboard and off we sail. 

RipTide Charters vessel Photo credit S Johnson
First stop is the picturesque octagonal South Channel Pile Light. Originally built in the 1870's as a lighthouse, with the original drop toilet - a hole in the floor. You read stories of  the passenger ferry would deliver the keeper a daily paper. It is now no longer used as a lighthouse and has to be one of the best bird houses around. 

Photo credit: S Johnson
We don't stay long as Steve has arranged a packed itinerary, which he sadly notes does not include the fishing option. Looking wistfully at the ships instruments he shows the shadowy outlines of plenty of good fishing to be had; snapper, whiting and squid. We could have had the best BBQ dinner ever had we wanted! Stephen will even do all the prep work for you.

South Channel Fort Jetty Photo credit S Johnson
We're off next to the South Channel Fort. For those of us who have visited Point Nepean National Park know the importance of the area as part of the defence lines for Melbourne. It is fascinating to add to this knowledge by exploring the man-made island, home to the South Channel Fort.

We almost have the island to ourselves, just two other small boats and a hundred million birds! It certainly feels pretty special to be exploring the antiquated gun emplacements tip-toeing amongst the squawking nesting seagulls, who are not best pleased to have their peaceful island invaded.


Even better, when Stephen licensed by Parks Victoria, produces a key and we are able to enter inside the fort through a series of tunnels to explore further. As we motor off, we are pleased we are not in fear of the mines (now thankfully long gone) set to attack ships of yesteryear coming through the Heads.





No time to linger, as we're off to Chinaman's Hat, home to the cutest Australian fur seals ever. Now if you thought the South Channel Pile Light was a great birdhouse, you should see what home the seals have. We are greeted by playful seals swimming around the boat and the odd bit of barking seal fisticuffs, one well placed slap of a flipper and a big seal topples of with a massive belly flop into the water!



Warning! As you circle round and get downwind it is pretty stinky. We could have stayed watching them frolicking for ages, those seals are so cute. But we're on a dolphin hunt and we head off to The Popes Eye.


Photo credit S Johnson
This island is about 5km north east of Portsea, is another artificial construction build for defence purposes. Although never finished, it is now a marine sanctuary and is a great area for swimming, scuba-diving and snorkeling. The shallow approximately one meter deep crystal clear blue waters in and around the horseshoe have large numbers of protected fish.

All to soon, we are heading back to land. No dolphins are to been seen, but lots of other 'wows'. The journey back passes the luxurious bay side houses of Portsea and Sorrento. We spot infinity pools, private jetties, sandy beaches and even a helicopter. What a nice way to live.



Thank you to Riptide Charters for a ripper of a day out on the bay!



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


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Thursday, 3 November 2016

We have to talk!

So what would you do when your husband comes home from work with a question? 
"Singapore or Bangkok, do you have a preference?!"



a. Respond with an empathic "not on your Nelly, I love living in Melbourne!"



b. Ask for a look-see to make an informed decision.



c. Whoop, whoop around the kitchen dancing to the tunes of
"Happy' and/or "I will survive"





So here I am living in the world's most liveable city, Melbourne, with the most amazing (and part-time work) in the rewarding not-for-profit sector
being asked to make a life changing decision...


What would you say?