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?