Australia · blessings · ducks · enchanting · gratitude

In January ~ An absurdly beautiful sight.

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“There was no sign of anybody, no sound of voices or feet. Tubs of arum lilies stood about on the stone floor, and on a table flamed a huge bunch of fierce nasturtiums. Spacious, flowery, silent, with the wide window at the end opening into the garden, and the Judas tree absurdly beautiful in the sunshine, it seemed….too good to be true.” ~ The Enchanted April.

On the last day of January I wanted, no, needed, to remember the joys of this month, as this, the middle month of the most harsh season of the year draws to a close.

I had spent the day alone, at home, with not a soul in sight; no sound of voices or feet. I don’t know why I looked outside when I did. I am so glad I did though, for there, just outside the door of my home, were my two old friends the Australian Wood Ducks, regular visitors to my garden who I haven’t seen since early September.

In that moment, all of the heat, rain, floods and cyclones of January didn’t seem to matter any more. Seeing these two creatures, so absurdly beautiful, having returned to my garden at long last, was truly enchanting. I had almost forgotten how beautiful they are, but only almost.

January is the month the ducks returned; January will remain in my memory as being an enchanting month.

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Australia · basics · music

As Australian as Vegemite ~ tastes just as good the second time around!

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“Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscle
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich…” ~ Land Down Under, Men at Work.

A whole two years ago I wrote about our beloved Australian icon ~ Vegemite. (Was it really two years ago? Wow, that time flew by awfully fast!)

How could I write a series of posts about Australian Icons without mentioning it again?

I won’t repeat myself though, you can still read the two year old post as everything I said about Vegemite back then still applies now!

And I still enjoy my Vegemite sandwiches as much now as I did back then. The main point that I really must emphasise about eating Vegemite, be it on a sandwich or on toast, is please do not add too much! It has a very strong flavour, so use sparingly!

See, you only need add a thin layer of Vegemite to your toast. Less is more! ;)
See, you only need add a thin layer of Vegemite to your toast. Less is more! 😉

Have any of my blogging friends from overseas ever had the opportunity to taste Vegemite?

If you haven’t tasted our famous National Icon, would you try it, if given the opportunity?

You may have heard this Australian “anthem” of sorts before, “Down Under” by Men at Work, as it was released in a number of countries throughout the world back in the early 1980’s. It was also the theme song of the Australia II camp, during Australia’s successful challenge of the Americas Cup in 1983.

Oh, and it was also played by “Men at Work” during the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, held in Sydney, Australia.

Vegemite is mentioned in this song as well, so go on, have a listen. Does it sound familiar to you?

Post Script ~ After Sybil asked in her comment whether Vegemite is similar to Marmite I made some further investigations. Whilst they are very similar, the taste is different (well, to the palate of an Australian it is!) I have discovered that Vegemite contains malt extract, which is made from barley. Apparently, Marmite (an English product) doesn’t, therefore I will take this one difference in ingredience as confirming that my taste-buds are right!

Another interesting fact, the birth of Vegemite took place in Melbourne, Australia, in 1922. It was first made by the Fred Walker Cheese Company but it took a while to catch on, as Aussies were used eating Marmite on their morning toast. In 1937, Fred Walker decided to promote Vegemite by holding a limerick competition, offering substantial prizes, and from that moment on, the Aussies have been smitten. Fred Walker knew that Australia needed a brand new Australian Icon, obviously! 😉

The entire story of the history of Vegemite can be found at vegemite.com.au. I’ve even discovered that the old Vegemite advert, which I remember seeing on television as a child, is on You Tube!

Who would have known that there is so much information on the internet about Vegemite? I’m learning so much myself from writing this! 🙂

 

enchanting · son

A day spent back in time

the mantlepiece

“When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing, just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?” ~ Ralph Marston.

Monday, 28th January, 2013.

The interesting weather conditions have not let up today, if anything they have worsened. It appears that we are surrounded by a cyclone, high pressure systems, troughs and fronts, if that means anything at all to any of you. It means nothing to me, I just look out the window and see the trees blowing willy-nilly, branches flying off the trees, rain overfilling the bird bath and the birds huddling together in the shelter of our veranda.

"I dropped some!" This young kookaburra came onto the veranda today, out of the wind, and enjoyed a morsel of food.
“I dropped some!” This young kookaburra came onto the veranda today, out of the wind, and enjoyed a morsel of food.

We lost power last night at around 7.30 pm I think. After reading by torch-light for some time I decided to take advantage of the darkness and have an early night.

The power returned at some time overnight, I have no idea when, but it was back this morning. I planned a day of washing, ironing and vacuuming (all the fun stuff!) seeing as the great outdoors was fit for neither man nor beast.

Well, the Gods of the Power Plant had other ideas. By 10.30 am, the power had disappeared yet again.

All day we waited. I filled the washing machine with dirty clothes, all set to press the start button when the power returned.

I waited some more.

All set for a new year at school.
All set for a new year at school.

My son returns to school tomorrow, so we covered his books and put his name on all of his belongings. I’m not sure why I bother putting his name on things, he loses them anyway.

We ate lunch. We made drinks of tea, boiling the water on the gas burners. We hand washed the dishes that had been stacked into the dishwasher. The house remained dark, due to the inclement weather.

My husband went to the supermarket to buy kerosene for the old kerosene lamp. We may be in for another long, dark night.

I read a few pages of a new book I have. Then took a nap.

I never, ever even so much as feel drowsy during the day, but today, I did.

Can you see the dolphin leadlight-look design in this lantern?
Can you see the dolphin leadlight-look design in this lantern?

When I woke up, the night had arrived, still there was no electricity and the candles were alight.

And here is a seahorse.
And here is a seahorse.

Tuesday, 29th January, 2013.

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ~ Buddha.

As you can see by the date, a new day has dawned and this post didn’t reach the point where I could hit the publish button. Thank you WordPress for auto-saving drafts! I had been saving as I wrote, but this morning I discovered that my writing had been saved mid-word, which I didn’t do manually.

This bumble bee looks far happier in my lantern than it would be outdoors right now.
This bumble bee looks far happier in my lantern than it would be outdoors right now.

Our evening meal was cooked last night by candlelight, using the gas burners of our stove top. As we began eating, the power returned.

My son had cheered, after declaring that he had never in his entire life spent such a boring day; with the return of the electricity to the house he could now watch the cricket on television and charge his mobile phone.

I had mixed emotions. Having paced around the house all day, wondering what to do next in our home which had been converted to pre-power days, it had given me the opportunity to contemplate how people back in those day filled their days, as yes, I too had spent the day feeling bored.

Mr. Frog, all aglow in the candlelight.
Mr. Frog, all aglow in the candlelight.

Life would have been so different, back in the days when life had to be planned around the natural light of day. I know I wouldn’t have been bored at all. I would take the lack of electricity for granted and plan my days accordingly.

As it turned out, when the lights came back on in our house and the candle light was no longer necessary, I felt quite sad. My eyes had become accustomed to the gentle light from the flickering flames. I had also enjoyed the silence in our home, hearing only the sounds of my families voices, the piano being played and the heavy breathing of my sleeping dog.

It had been magical, listening to the sounds of my son playing the most beautiful tune on the piano, one which he had taught himself during the school holidays. I had enjoyed the softness of the candlelight and the kerosene lamp.

I discovered that listening to the piano being played by candlelight is simply enchanting.

The gentle golden aura of the kerosene lamp was a welcome change to harsh, electric lighting.
The gentle golden aura of the kerosene lamp was a welcome change to harsh, electric lighting.

The only real gladness I had felt was in knowing that I could return to the computer, to write again, and to see the photos I had taken throughout the day.

I’m quite sure those people who lived back in the days before power would have rather enjoyed the internet too. 🙂

Australia · music · photography · rain · summer

It’s been raining for so long.

berry buddies

“Well it’s a happenin’ thing
And it’s happenin’ to you
Full moon and thunder
Ribbons of blue
Ice on the window
Ice in my heart
Foolin’ with thunder
Every time we start…” ~ Rain, Marc Hunter and Dragon.

“I’ll have to get rid of those new bunches of seeds off the palms, or we’ll have them dropping into the pool”, announced my husband a couple of weeks ago.

“Don’t cut them down!” I protested. “When they are ripe enough the birds will want to eat them!”

So they stayed , and this morning the Honey Eaters discovered they were ready for the picking. What a lovely time they had, dangling from the berry branches as they ate breakfast in the rain! We can clean the pool up later.

Another wet and gloomy day for the humans, although the birds don't seem to mind.
Another wet and gloomy day for the humans, but the birds don’t seem to mind.

The rain hasn’t stopped all day, with warnings of treacherous weather frightening many people into staying indoors. Shop owners are closing the doors to their shops, the streets have hardly any traffic and the beaches are all but empty. The temperature has dropped to twenty-four degrees celsius and the humidity is ninety-four percent.

And here we are, smack bang in the middle month of summer, on our Australia Day weekend!

When I began my week of “Australian Icon” posts I hadn’t bargained on this horrendous weather taking hold. How can I show you photos of the golden beaches of the Gold Coast in this weather? I’ll just have to extend my Australian Icon week for a day or two, or until the sun returns, whichever comes first.

High tide at the jetty.
High tide at the jetty.

High tide was around 11 am this morning, so we went to the jetty to take a few photos, then drove around the corner to the deserted park. Every weekend during summer the park is chock-full of families, picnicking by the river. Today, there was not a soul in sight.

I felt so sorry for the seagulls in the park. They know this is the place to go to be fed, but today the feeders were nowhere to be seen! I guess they’ll have to hunt for their own dinner today.

The Crested Tern ~ mother and son perhaps?
The Crested Tern ~ mother and son perhaps?

Keeping the seagulls company today were a couple of other birds that I haven’t seen before, one of which I have identified as the Crested Tern. The Tern is closely related to the Seagull and the cousins intermingled together in the rain swept park and along the edges of the river.

Australian Pied Oyster Catcher.
Australian Pied Oyster Catcher.

This funny looking long-legged fellow is an Australian Pied Oyster Catcher. I’m surprised not to have seen him in the park before. There are oyster beds in the mangroves nearby, so they should be able to help themselves to an oyster or two any time they are feeling peckish.

Too wet to leave the car, this photo was taken looking through the windscreen.
Too wet to leave the car, this photo was taken looking through the windscreen.

My son Adam wanted to see how the surf was, with the waves reported to be higher than usual today, so we took a drive up to Point Danger to have a look at Duranbah Beach and the mouth of the Tweed River.

Fierce choppy waves at Duranbah Beach.
Fierce choppy waves at Duranbah Beach.

As we had expected, the surf looked pretty ordinary and only the brave, or the very foolish, were out for a swim. We counted the grand total of two people swimming at this very popular surfing beach.

Dangerous conditions.
Dangerous conditions.

The mouth of the river is hazardous at the best of times, even for boats and fishing trawlers. Today, the rough seas were crazy.

My Australian song for today is, appropriately, “Rain” from the Australian/New Zealand band Dragon. The sun is predicted to return by Tuesday. I wonder if it will? Probably “yes”, as that is the day the work week begins again…. and I suppose you have all heard of “Murphy’s Law”!

Australia · music · photography · summer

Australia Day ~ In the land of sunshine (and sometimes rain!)

Australia Day 2013

Saturday, 26th January, 2013 ~ Australia Day.

I had some fabulous ideas of the photos I would take to show you all our beautiful sunshine, the beaches, and the way so many Australians in my beachside area celebrate the anniversary of the first day of English settlement in our land of sunshine. You would see photos of families enjoying bar-be-ques at the overcrowded beaches and the Australian flag flying proudly against the brilliant blue sky, fluttering in the breeze. Can you just image it?

Deserted beach.
Deserted beach.

So what happened today? It rained, all day, so I had to resort to Plan B and you will all have to be content with imagining the blue sky!

rock walking

But that’s okay, we Australians are used to making the most out of a less than perfect situation. You’ve all heard the stories about the days when the first fleet of eleven ships arrived in Sydney Cove, on the 26th of January, 1788, headed by Captain Arthur Phillip, haven’t you? The one thousand, five hundred and thirty people who arrived on those ships, seven hundred and thirty six of whom were convicts, had to make the most of the inhospitable conditions they were faced with upon their arrival.

I wasn't the only person out taking photos today. Another blogger perhaps?
I wasn’t the only person out taking photos today. Another blogger perhaps?

“Farewell to old England forever,
Farewell to my old pals as well,
Farewell to the well known Old Bailey,
Where I used for to cut such a swell.” ~ Lyrics, Botany Bay.

Keen to catch a wave.
Keen to catch a wave.

All I needed to work around today was a bit of rain. Well, it was quite a bit of rain actually, so I took my planned photos between the showers. And it was nothing compared to the less than ideal conditions the first fleet had to deal with!

no queues today

Roads and car parking areas, usually with cars queuing up for miles whilst waiting for a parking spot, were almost empty in comparrison to previous summer’s days.

Adventurous Pup!
Adventurous Pup!

I did spot a couple of interesting sights, besides the very keen surfers, who were prepared to brave the rain (they get wet swimming anyway!) despite the weather. This little pup seemed to enjoy taking a bike ride with its owner….

And I also saw a man, wearing a fluorescent shirt, unicycling along the beach side path at Kirra Point.

On a bycycle built for...one?
On a bicycle built for…one?

Our “Australian of the Year” was announced today and this year it is Australian media icon, Ita Buttrose.

Ita became one of the most recognised faces on Australian television during the 1970’s and 80’s when she began filming advertisements for the magazine which she was then the editor of, the Australian Women’s Weekly. Ita was awarded the title of Australian of the Year 2013 for “her media career as well as her commitment to not-for-profit organisations, including president of Alzheimers Australia.”

surfing

In 1980, Australian rock and roll band Cold Chisel recorded their hit song “Ita”, written about Ita Buttrose. In honour of our newly named Australian of the Year, my Aussie song for today is “Ita” by Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel.

Happy Australia Day!  🙂

“Every week, in every home
She got wholesome news for the family
I believe, I believe, in what she says
Yes I do
I believe, I believe, at the end of the day
Her magazine’ll get me through…”