My mum passed away last week when the jacarandas were in full bloom. We will miss you so much xxx
Sharing time together and the power of ritual, nature and love.
American cruise ships are renowned for their abundance and excess. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but merely as a generalised perception of the ingenuity of the American way, However, as we embarked on our first even cruise – all cliches aside, we really did not expect the luxury, the cleanliness and yes of course, the abundance which we encountered. We really felt like “fish out of water”, sorry – bad nautical pun.
Our main aim for this eight night escape was to see the ocean, relax, read and enjoy the tropical South Pacific. Embarking from Sydney, where we were lucky to spend time with Daughter Number Two and her husband, before we set sail, our departure lounge was the magnificence that is Sydney Harbour.
The view of the Harbour, the Bridge and Opera House never tires and never disappoints, it is truly one of the great harbours of the world. It was then, as the ship slowly manoeuvred away from the dock that it hit me.
You see both our families, just a generation before us, came to this great land by ship. My parents and grandparents as refugees from Europe in 1949 and Colin’s mother and grandparents from Malta just three years later. In fact this ship was registered in Valetta, a beautiful port, which I have been fortunate to visit.
With these thoughts, I couldn’t help feeling how difficult it must have been for them to leave their respective countries and experience a voyage of uncertainty. Indeed, their thirty days at sea would not have been as enticing or our indulgent as our short cruise. Despite this, I knew that my experience on this ship would have me reflecting on those remarkable journeys of our collective history.
No doubt this sea crossing will give us time to reflect and put into perspective, our blessings and opportunities.
Please check out my other blog “finding stanley vodak” which is written in conjunction with Sydney daughter and our hope to delve further into our past, on the other side of the ocean.
It was one of those serene and surprising weekends. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit a charming little cottage by the sea. Its owners had kindly allowed us to stay in this place where their own children had spent many happy summers – long ago.
Daughter Number 2 was to arrive unexpectedly to share this weekend with us. Colin had kept that secret well! It was wonderful to see her especially as she was to spend a precious weekend with us by the sea.
Seaside walks are a must, even in winter and we had a much needed chat-shop-coffee time. Our walk saw us reach the iconic bathing boxes of the Mornington Peninsula. These colourful sentinels look out over Port Phillip Bay. Blue, yellow and green boxes create a novelty appeal by the sea. Surprise number two. Something caught our eye. Was that an injured animal? A large animal. It was lying lifeless on one of the landings.
As we gingerly drew closer, a row of plastic tape revealed an important notice.
A resting seal. Wow! This poor fellow was all tuckered out and had found its way to a most amenable residence. Clever seal! He was gorgeous and oh so sleepy.
We returned the next day and he was still there, stirring slightly. A wildlife ranger watched patiently over his sleeping state. The ocean, the sand and the bathing box buffering his dreamtime state. Isn’t nature truly beautiful!
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend a very special one indeed.
As we return to Term 3, I am always grateful that we are able to get away from work – both at home and school. It always seems that school work is like house work – sometimes appreciated, greatly needed and never done!
Having returned from visiting my mother in Brisbane and planned and prepared my lessons for the next few days, I have a little time to indulge in my thoughts. Our short stay in the northern sun rendered its benefits, both physically and emotionally. As promised I now share with you some of our wacky sights.
Houses on stilts
Queensland homes are renowned for being perched on stilts. This not only provides much needed ventilation but also a safe, high aspect during floods! However, this poor house is awaiting its much needed renovation.
World Expo ’88
Often referred to as Brisbane’s “coming of age” event. It was 184 days of spectacular, multi-national events. The following statistics are courtesy of http://www.foundationexpo88.org/trivia.html and the newly refurbished Brisbane City Council Museum.
Did you know that…..
19,000 meals were served every hour every Expo day, including…
Over 16 million scoops of ice-cream
17 million hamburgers
1.4 million hot dogs
5 million chicken nuggets
8 million buckets of hot chips
340 trawler loads of seafood
90,000 kgs of spaghetti
the equivalent of 650 family swimming pools of beer
The Banyan Tree
More commonly known as the Moreton Bay Fig, it casts an eerie sight on the road side.
I have to end on my favourite topics at the moment – letter boxes. See my post A Lively Letter
We enjoyed our few days, especially visiting the Queensland Art Gallery and Antiques centre and of course, chatting with mum and visiting “old” friends.
We are now back home on the Mount and preparing for some brisk weather after our soirée in the sun. To all my northern hemisphere readers – indulge in your brilliant summer!
I have begun to lose count of the many flights we have taken from Melbourne to Brisbane over the years. Waiting at the airport always reminds me of that John Williamson, play made into the film, Travelling North.The protagonists leave their families in cold Melbourne for a new life of warmth and laughter in Far North Queensland or more colloquially known as FNQ!
For us it’s the other way round. Yes, we take the opportunity to escape the winter cold but also use it to spend time with my ageing mother, visit Daughter Number One and One-And-Only-Grand-Daughter.
We departed in 5 degrees C and arrived at a comfortable 13 degrees. Long, light sleeves are still required. We make it a point to walk in and around the steep slopes.
Robert McFarlane in his recent tome, The Old Ways describes walking as “enabling sight and thought rather than encouraging retreat and escape”. Even though as a child I did indeed escape mundaneness by walking up and down these slopes, the reflective time enabled me to have a sense of disciple and endurance.
Walking, for both Colin and I, is a time to talk, reflect, plan, laugh and reminisce, often on the lives of our grandparents and parents who came to this country, post war. One of our favourite walks when we come here is to take a nostalgic visit to one of the many vintage stores. He has his favourites and I head straight for one which is named after a film starring Maggie Smith and based on a humerous novel by Graham Greene.
Steering away from his usual religious allusion, Travels With My Aunt tells of a lonely, serious banker, who loves dahlias, meeting his long lost Aunt Augusta at his own mother’s funeral. They embark together on a series of adventures, journeying to exotic places as well as time on the Orient Express. During the course of the novel, these two diverse characters form a bond. There is a twist in the story, which you might guess! They reclaim each other through their travels, talks and adventures.
What is it about the simple foot-fall that places many things in perspective?
The little vintage store which I visited (I do hope the proprietor does not mind me taking a quick snap of some of the wares) is perfect in its nostalgic nod to the past.
Overall, what are we to learn from returning to our places of origin? I alluded to this in a previous post Streets of your town. For me it places things in perspective. We have four more days here so stay tuned….
I have to admit that I have struggled to begin writing my next post. An idea has been with me throughout the month of June. However, as all high school teachers know, June is the busiest and hardest month. With many exams to write, supervise and then mark, it can be a gruelling few weeks. Assessment needs to be finalised and often chased up together with the obligatory feedback. Reports then must be written or rather electronically generated, checked, corrected and finally posted.
Yes, I am making excuses! Writing for me, like cooking, is a form of relaxation. So why didn’t I make the time to develop this brewing idea? I guess it goes back to the difficulty that is writing, today.
Even ten years ago, the art of penmanship was common. More recently a dear friend took the time to write us a thank you note.
It is still on the fridge nearly a year later. When I look at her letter, I see her familiar cursive script which I recognised immediately. The private, personal and intimate nature of the letter is less evident today.
Even our school reports, as I alluded to earlier, are merely signed, and sent on their way to letter boxes or worse still, Post Office boxes. So here then is the segue to my idea for this post – yes, the operative word then is “post”! This blog requires me to post my latest instalment but not to a letterbox. The virtual letterbox that is the World Wide Web is our new mail centre.
Last month as we walked the Streets of Your Town, I became quite interested in the variety of letter boxes which adorned the houses and flats of the old town. I took some photos, hoping that the residents were not too bemused by this weird woman zooming in on their private mail boxes.
City letter boxes are very different to country letterboxes. In the country these are often large, multi coloured, homemade edifices ready to receive large items, newspapers and even milk! They must be wind, rain and highway resistant. They can be constructed of recycled tyres, tin, wood, plastic, Ned Kelly icons and even animal shapes – I’ll show you some in a future post – there’s that word again!
However, the city letterbox must be steel. It must withstand the prying eyes of others. It should be lockable with the house number boldly exhibited! Many of the ones I photographed I remembered as a child walking up the hills to primary school and back.
In our technology rich world, where our words can speed across continents in seconds; convey our fears, hopes and pleasures faster than a speeding bullet, who really needs a letterbox? I can’t help but think of the spectrum of letters which must have been received over time, by the variety of occupants of each of these residences. Letters announcing births, deaths, achievements, marriages, pen pal adventures and invitations. Then there were the stamp collectors eagerly awaiting that letter from aunty Mabel in Manchester or Zia Sofia in Sicily just to rip off that stamp!
Moreover, the hand written letter seems to be a thing of the past. But it can be resurrected. Just scan some of the interesting stationery boutiques around today. Surely, paper products are not on the decline.
If the letter is to be alive and aerodynamic it needs the letter box as its corporeal friend.
I leave you with the thoughts of the American poet, W.H. Auden
And none will hear the postman’s knock
Without a quickening of the heart
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten.
Do you miss running down to the letter box to check for that much awaited letter and not that bill?