Hello welcome to my Blog

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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Sunday, 21 April 2013

In my street

On my way to town today this is what I came across walking up our road. Rainbow Lorikeets having a feast in this tree. Irresistibly attractive on both sides wouldnt you say !

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

APT7 Asian Pacific Triennial 0f Contemporary Art

The doors have just closed on a stunning exhibition. I was able to hear about the inside story of its creation so I am going to share with you some of its highlights. 

This is the 7th Asian Pacific Exhibition and it was the most ambitious to date. It featured 75 artists from  from 27 different countries in this area. There was a major focus on Papua New Guinea, but also some stunning pieces from India, Indonesia and Vietnam. 

We had the opportunity to hear about the preparation and commissioning of the works from Papua New Guinea from the curator of the exhibition, an anthropologist and a PNG architect. The challenges and the logistics were enormous. The goals were exceptional and no effort was spared to realise them including bringing the artists over to Australia to create these wonderful works of art. Putting it all up and presenting it was monumental. We heard fascinating insights into PNG architecture, the importance of the spirit houses which are often used for male initiation ceremonies and their costumes which are used for these festivals and celebrations. The theme of the exhibition was to talk about and exhibit the ephemeral. 
 The intricate paintings on one of the spirit houses of painted wood and woven sago palm
 The bilams which the women weave.  It made me treasure ours with a new found appreciation.
 The crocodile costume made with sago palm and notice the shell for an eye 
One of the many masks and costumes of the exhibition
 Some of the totem poles painted by individual language groups and clans 

The roof the the house in the background made by painting individual pieces which are then all joined together. This is normally suspended over the totem poles. 
This massive bright yellow structure was created by a whole team of volunteers who stuck and painted IKEA cardboard boxes to produce this ephemeral structure, the brainchild of Richard Malloy a New Zealand artist. 
The amazing creations of Raqib Shaw who I have seen previously exhibited in India with references to Javanese Mythology and mythical creatures. He uses the most intricate painting method with enamel paint and diamante pieces which create a three D effect and which is so elaborate a process it can take years to complete. Seemingly idyllic at a distance on closer consideration the animals and persons can be quite ferocious.

The exhibits will now be taken down and stored except for those ones which are so ephemeral that they will be dismantled. IN PNG of course these costumes and spirit houses are left at the mercy of the weather which gradually returns them to the earth from where they came. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

What you get for $215 million

These days you might be excused from answering in a slightly depressed tone, NOT A LOT - look at Cyprus I add quickly. I think dismally at how millions are now the lesser form of money when once I thought that to be a millionaire was the ultimate kudos of success. Here is a success story with millions. 

In Brisbane this amount has given the Brisbane City Hall, apparently the biggest one in Australia, back to the people of the city. In a poignant but warm ceremony the city hall which had been closed for three years for refurbishment has been re dedicated to the people of the City.

It is affectionately known as the People's Place.

It was opened on the 8th of April 1930 and it was the tallest building in the city for many years. It is a lovely mix of better known buildings, the Pantheon in Rome, St Marks Campanile in Venice and Greek temples with their Ionic columns and friezes.The frieze done by the famous sculptor Daphne Mayo shows a scene of settlers and indigenous people.  It was built on a swamp site so after a number of years it was showing some serious defects and so in 2009 that it was closed for 3 years to carry out the necessary renovations. 

I did not know its former splendour but I think I can say that Brisbanites were impressed with the result and I want to share some of those images with you today. The ceremony began with the blessing of an aboriginal song woman who had the most haunting voice. 

We poured into the building eager to see it and explore it - there are now many more reception rooms, a functioning kitchen, the famous Shingle Inn, an iconic cafe of Brisbane has been recreated here, serving high teas and light lunches and the auditorium was immediately set to good use with a free lunch time  concert this week. 

I went along and the first thing I noticed was that the place was packed. Brisbanites are keen to embrace their heritage and their culture. The concert featured an indigenous dance group, complete with their didgeridoos, the Queensland Choir which has a long and proud history and James Morrison an Australian musician who completely captivated his audience, switching from the piano to the trombone and the trumpet seemingly effortlessly to produce fabulous jazz. 

 The beautiful Stained glass windows made by William Bustard a Yorkshire man. 
 The lovely art deco chandeliers 
The white marble balustrade to the main staircase. There is black marble from Belgium, white from Italy and pink from Australia.The Mosaic floors have a meandering pattern which comes from Meander a Greek river in ancient times. 
 The stunning skylight and domed roof which now changes colour 

The organ which has been carefully restored and functions fully 

There are tours to the clock tower and a museum of the Brisbane River. There are events, shows and concerts filling in the calendar and if the first week is anything to go by there will be few empty seats in any of them.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Oz openness

I am liking what I see more and more. On Television the adverts are humorous and fun and get the message across without being clawing, celebrity driven or boring. Love -em 

In real life they are caring and thoughtful of others, getting up for elders on the bus, helping mums with babes, but above all being open and friendly. Sat at the bus stop waiting for the bus and a woman next to me opened a bottle of perfume and sprayed some in the air. Nice I said and that was it....we started chatting and she was so knowledgeable about Cyprus and all that had gone on, had lived abroad and was warm and welcoming. By the time I got off the bus we had exchanged cards with promises of meeting up in the near future. 

Consideration is given to the indigenous people at every opportunity and it is welcome and genuine. 

And then there is society at large and for me trying to find my feet I look around at what is on offer and I giggle at the originality and the openness. 

Jelly at the Edge - a group for independent people who want to meet up and work together 

Brisbane Transvestites and Cross dressers - pretty self explanatory 

Sugar cubes, Oh my, its high tea time - women enjoying fine china and high teas. 

Tall single professionals ( not for me !) 

Breakfast with a Twist- Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network 

The art of Story telling in a Pitch - getting your business pitch just right 

Brisbane Rationalists for a really good debate 


Brisbane Hiking Dykes ....

To mention just a few of the more memorable groups. Not sure any of the above are my cup of tea but still looking and will let you know how it goes. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Back to OZ and all about buying a house

While Cyprus teeters from bankruptcy to viability and back I have been getting on with the task of finding somewhere to live.We spent eight weeks at Oxygen Apartments which were great.  I am happy to report that I am now in the house I found and close to unpacking all the boxes so time to reflect on the Australian real estate scene, some of its joys and some of its peculiarities.
 Our view of the city from our eighth floor apartment at Oxygen
 The lap pool and gardens 
Our pleasant if impersonal bedroom 

Of course I can only talk about Brisbane, Queensland as this is the only area I have been looking at property but it might interest you to know that  here:

Properties are advertised without prices ! 

I could not believe this to start with but basically you develop some sense of what a property may be worth but as a foreigner you are at a distinct disadvantage.

Quick squeeze viewing 

Properties are put on the market and you as the eager buyer are allowed to view them. But it is not as  in most of Europe where you book an appointment with the agent and then you turn up at the door and the owners show you around for as long as it takes to draw you in.

Here owners are ejected from their premises for the so called OPEN HOUSE. They simply leave but  not before they have chucked everything from a surface into the closest cupboard, left a candle of sweet vanilla burning and laid out the silver service as if the Queen will be coming to dinner. Nearly every property I visited looked like something out of House and Garden or a hotel room and there were no SIGNS of LIFE anywhere.... I was very disturbed by this trend to anodise everything as I think houses should be lived in and not just shown. Huge emphasis on coordination and accessorising.Furniture clearly brought in by the agents for effect. Complete absence of books, newspapers, a pair of shoes hanging about, the odd jumper draped over a chair - NOTHING. 

You and a host of other hopefuls traipse threw the house and making encouraging or other noises to the agent who takes down your details and promptly rings you up to ask you what you thought of the property.

In the space of about an HOUR you have to decide whether you are going to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on this house. If you are lucky and it is a bit slow you might get another OPEN HOUSE and another half hour to race round.

Plenty of choice but not enough time 

Most estate agents hold their open houses on Saturdays or Tuesdays so you might have eight to visit but there is no way that you will get around them all as the hour sadly will be up.


Then you have to be even braver and bid at an auction, because this is how some houses are sold here, where basically you could be the only one ..or you could have one annoying other bidder driving the price up terribly or twenty - you just don't know until you get to the venue.

Lesson learnt 

Don't plan, dream, remodel the house, work out where the walls will come down before you have secured it at auction. You might end up losing it for a few thousand. Auction means between 5-10% deposited on the day and no further questions.

Houses come on the market and are gone within the month. If not, they are problematic properties which will almost certainly go to auction and failing that a price might reluctantly appear. 

Sign the contract and then explore the property

Here in Brisbane the rule is Buyer Beware. The Seller doesn't really have to tell you anything and it is up to you to find all the hidden dark secrets of the house through searches and Building and pest inspections. 

However apart from a five day cooling off period when either party can back out, there is not a lot that you can find which would allow you to walk away from the contract, not even the fact that the property floods ! 

Beautiful properties 

Riverside apartments and palatial estates, town houses and superb Queenslanders all available at the right prices. If you are in a complex beware the Body Corporate as they call the residents associations here and the fact that most of them will not accept dogs over 12 kilos - well the fat dog crushed our hopes of the riverside apartment even with the rigorous walks that my sister is giving her in Cyprus. 

From finding your property to moving in can take as little as one month ! Super fast and wonderfully efficient bankers, lawyers and building and pest inspectors all work away to make this a painless and worthwhile exercise. So here we are safely in and most of the boxes unpacked.
 Our deck looking out onto beautiful mature trees