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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Feathered and flying friends

We had our babies on the same day and so began a relationship which has endured and crossed continents and seas. This accounts for few postings recently, but I can say that my days have been filled with fun and a lot of catching up. Facebook is good about reminding us of our relationships but how much better when friends keep up the friendship and come to stay. This is Gina's third visit and this time she has come with Jonathan. We have wandered into Brisbane, eaten soft shelled crab burgers at River Bar (highly recommended), took the City Hopper and enjoyed views of the city, walked in the parks and sat on the deck admiring our many varied birds. Here is one just looking at straight at you! 
In between some champagne and sauvignon blanc we catch up on old friends and new ones and each other's families. We literally pick up where we left off the last time we met and there is comfort and ease and a lot of laughter. Then there is introducing each other to new friends and neighbours and even new concepts and happenstances which occur. I had to confess almost complete ignorance  of gender neutral persons which I understand is one more status I should now be aware of. 

It was a joy picking up a huge amount of facts on types of clouds and winds - and I can see why Jonathan loves paragliding and why trips up to potential take off places make for a wonderful day out  even if I did pick up a tick lying in grass. 

What are good friends for if not for a bit of surgery after breakfast and the removal of the tick from my head - it refused to move and there was a lot of yanking in the nicest possible way but my Doctor- cum -surgeon for the day assures me that most of it was removed. Three weeks from now, might be the proof in the proverbial pudding. 

They head off to Northern Queensland to remember places they knew and loved many years ago but promise to return for more of the Brissie beauty. 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Braggadacious predictions.

After my last post on the glorious Miss Olive Pink, a human being memorable for all the right reasons, I have to direct my attention, albeit reluctantly to Mr Donald Trump for the sake of a historical record. I am appalled at how many column inches have been devoted to this man, I am appalled at how anyone within the Republican party could have ever considered him suitable material for the top job and I am appalled at how the media has played on this to make him the monster that he has become. The other day Katty Kay a respected BBC journalist suggested that Trump had won the second debate - on what grounds I ask her and all of you ? the issues, the policies, or that sickening statement that he has utmost respect for women, while engaging in Locker room banter which lets be clear, is not banter, but an endorsement for sexual assault?

In spite of all of this, I would like to believe that Hillary is well on her way to becoming the next President of the US. There are so many reasons why choosing Hillary is head and shoulders above the only deplorable alternative the Republicans have to offer and I hope I can be  "Braggadacious" but humble in my prediction post election. 

If not, and we are "Trumped",  then it will be extremely difficult to pick myself off the floor and start again. The world is becoming quite unpredictable and it has been proving to be an uphill struggle, Brexit, Syria, Colombia all going against what the majority of reasonable -minded people might expect. I am wary and anxious about my own country going through a democratic process and referendum shortly which will make or break its own future. And talking about futures, sadly it will not be long before those voters realise that the Donald is not the salvation that they are looking for. Politicians rarely are, but this one in particular is nothing short of shameful and nothing good will grow from any of the seeds he is sowing. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Miss Olive Pink

With a name like that you know there is a story - And here it is - 

Miss Olive was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1884. When she was a young woman she travelled to South Australia where she met Daisy Bates. She introduced her to the desert landscape and Aboriginal culture and Miss Olive never looked back. She studied anthropology at the University of Sydney and travelled to and from Alice Springs where she did fieldwork on the Warlpiri and Arrernte people. She moved to Alice Springs in 1940 and spent quite some time in the Tanami desert. When she retuned to Alice she became a very vocal advocate for Aboriginal rights. She regularly interrupted court proceedings if she considered that tribal law and custom were not taken into account by the court. She was once fined for contempt of court but refused to pay, demanding to be put in jail instead. Appalled that one of his chief tormentors would be in his jail, the head gaoler paid the fine himself. 
In 1955 she applied for a reservation of 20 hectares of land near the Todd River and she secured it with the help of the Minister at the time Sir Paul Hasluck.(what a wonderful name) This is where the current Botanic gardens is situated.He noted in her obituary that she planted trees with the help of her Aboriginal gardener and each tree bore the name of a prominent citizen and if that person fell out of favour with her she would stop watering it. 
Mr Hasluck say " I visited her on several occasions and could never restrain a curious glance at my tree and felt suitably gratified if I saw that Mr Hasluck was being watered regularly".  
She died at the ripe old age of 91 - unusual  for those years, and she is buried in the Alice Springs Cemetery. All the headstones look east except Miss Olive's which looks west. Her friend Reg Harris said " The old lady would appreciate the fact that she is a rebel still, even in death."

Today the Botanic Gardens in Alice are named after Olive Pink. The Gardens have an extraordinary collection of bush native plants and medicinal plants and walks like the Wattle Walk or the Mallee Walk that we can all enjoy. I read her story in the booklet of the Botanic Gardens while strolling around the gardens and loved her character. 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Macdonnell Ranges - Northern Territory.

They extend both sides of Alice Springs - like a protective horseshoe around the town. They are a magnificent range of mountains which offer so much for the keen walker and explorer, with gorges and gaps and places of significance to the Aboriginal tribes who live in the area.  One of the principal attractions is the Larapinta Trail which extends to the west of Alice Springs for 223 kms along the back bone of the range. You can walk along the whole trail or parts of it depending on how much time you have. We dipped into - literally - Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge both areas of scenic beauty offering swimming, trails and wildlife, though we have to confess we saw very little wildlife but got excited when a monitor lizard crossed the road and  we spotted a heron in the river. One of the ranges with a long shadow of me. 

Ellery Creek Big water hole 

 Some of the rock formations walking one of the trails around the waterhole.

 George getting ready to dive into ice cold water.
Ormiston Gorge - unusually because of the rain, the creek was full so I had to strip down to my knickers to make the creek crossing to get to the other side of the gorge and follow the rocky path up to the look out. 

In our path a beautiful heron which seemed very untroubled by us and was looking for something fishy in the water.

A ghost tree on the cliff edge - stark against the red stone.
A happy camper in the foreground.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Alice Springs

The name evokes so much - there is romance in it, wilderness and adventure and a sense of the outback. It is literally in the centre of this vast continent and sits comfortably between the two sides of the MacDonnell Ranges. 

The town began its life as Stuart as a repeater station for the Overland Telegraph Line which ran from Adelaide to Darwin. Alice Springs was the name given to a waterhole by WWMills when he was exploring the area. Alice was the wife of Sir Charles Todd the Superintendent of Telegraphs. The Telegraph station was built next to the waterhole. In 1933 the town became Alice Springs. 

The Central Australian desert around Alice Springs was the home of the Arrernte Aboriginal people for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the first Europeans. In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that the area has been occupied for perhaps 30,000 years. This makes Alice Springs one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited places.There are some lovely heritage buildings in the centre of the town, like the Residency, the first governor's house, the Hospital and the Flying Doctor service Tourist facility. For a birds' eye view we climbed up to Anzac Hill. 
Today Alice has a thriving aboriginal population and a lively arts scene. While we were there we were able to visit a few galleries but also the Araluen Cultural Precinct which houses some of Alice's significant art works and cultural artefacts. The Desert Mob exhibition which is on at the moment, is not to be missed. 

The Heritage Listed "Residency" where Queen Lizzie and Philip spent two nights while on a tour of the area. The house has period furniture and an interesting account of the history of the time. One of the more memorable characters was an Aboriginal man called Tjunkata Nosepeg Tjupurrula. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Not the Red Centre

We were expecting vast tracks of Red earth - and nothing much in between. But the weather in Northern Territory has been unlike any other winter they have had for a very long time. It has been raining, unusually for this time of year,  and as a consequence the red earth was interrupted with green, purple and blue, yellow and pink. So here are some  of the plants I came across as I walked and explored, bursting with life and kaleidoscopic colour. For the Aboriginals living here a lot of these plants have medicinal properties and offer food, material for weaving and sustenance for the birds and the wildlife.  For us, who know so much less then them, we can marvel at the honey drops hidden among the intense yellow flowers of the honey grevillia and laugh at the funny red flower, called the upside- down- flower because its flowers are on the ground.For the most part we can regard them as feasts to the eyes, accompanied by a feeling of contentment and joy.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Kata Tjuta

More rocks I hear you say so if you have had enough look away now - but if not, come and join me on what has probably been one of the most stunning walks we did. Kata Tjuta is a complex of ... yes you guessed it... rocks of gargantuan sizes not far from Uluru.The name in Aboriginal language means "many heads" and you can see why.  This is a bigger complex and overall higher than Uluru at 546 metres, but this is one case where size did not seem to get a bigger share of attention. They are lesser known but definitely worth visiting. They are shaped like domes, sacred sights, dumped into this vast expanse of quite green nothingness which is magnificent to the eye and which had George saying lets stay here all day just going up and down this wonderful track. There are two principal walks - one is called the Walpa Gorge and it is a shorter walk heading into a gorge between two enormous domes. The opening acts almost like a wind funnel and you have gale force and cold winds blowing while you walk. So this shorter walk was bracing to the say the least.
Walpa Gorge with the early morning light.
George literally a metre up on what is a huge rock slab.

Our favourite walk is the Valley of the Winds - The walk can be broken down into various sections but we did the whole circuit of some 7.4 kms. The scenery is spectacular, the wild flowers and fields are canvasses of colour on the landscape and the lookouts, areas of breathtaking beauty.

A budgie poking out of a ghost gum.
The view from the lookout.
Some of the wild flowers and the banks nearby

This is the Turtle which marks the highest peak in Kata Tjuta. Slow and lumbering it is there to remind us of the Aboriginal stories and to make sure we pay heed to the beauty around us.