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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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Hamilton Island - the Whitsundays

What do you give a man who has pretty much all ? A new espresso machine and a cuddle with a koala bear worked a treat in the case of my man. We escaped for a little sun - as if we don't get enough- to northern Queensland. A group of Islands there is called the Whitsundays and they are popular, perhaps a little exclusive and very, very beautiful and we only visited the one. 

What was an immediate attraction was that Hamilton island has its own airport so that we could fly in on a short flight from Brisbane. This particular Island is owned by one family, the Oatleys who are also founders of Rosemount Winery. They realised, rightly, that the island had great potential, so they developed it tastefully and holistically to give the interested traveller a little haven in seas of turquoise green and lush vegetation.

Everything is very well organised with golf buggies being the main mode of transport. There are day trips to other islands and beaches, fishing trips and sailing trips to the Great Barrier Reef all readily available at wonderful aussie prices which we are gradually getting used to. The little town is well stocked with a variety of good restaurants and some take aways. The resort we stayed at was a little Boutique hotel on Catseye beach called Beach Club. Smallish, well run, with a lovely beach front and gorgeous views. 
More on the wildlife and the activities in my next blog. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Some say ...

...Variety is the spice of life.
In this case TOTAL absence of choice would be my preference ! 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Tea time

This blog entry is dedicated with much love to my mother in law and my husband. On many an occasion we have sat down with a good cuppa to have a great chat. And even when the moments are harder and tougher and sometimes there are no words he will say softly "Cup of tea hon ?" 

I came across this exhibition in the State Library in Queensland. I so understand its significance and how something so ordinary and so commonplace can be elevated to a balm, a connector, a signal of class, place and origin, a sheer soothing moment of communality. 

The cups each bear the names and dates of those who donated them.There are stories attached to them like the special cup that the Pope chose to drink out of when he came to Australia which the owner then called the Pope's cup. The cups of sheep farmers and ordinary folk, of grandmothers daughters and friends. Cups and saucers to clink, and follow the chatter. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Red Hat Society

For some of you out there this might be "old Hat" but for me it was my first encounter with the Red Hat Society and it was the highlight of my day. I don't know whether this also brings an acute awareness of age which I have made a great job of ignoring so far, but this cant be a bad choice of how to spend some of it.

I went to a market, more about that in my next blog, but there at the table next to ours at lunch sat a lively bunch of women who looked splendid in Red Hats and purple outfits. So splendid in fact that I went over and asked for permission to photograph them and here they are. I asked if they were celebrating an event and they told me all about the Red Hat Society which was started in 1998 by a woman called Sue Ellen who gave a 55 year old friend a Red Hat and the poem written by Jenny Joseph called "Warning". Some say women become invisible after 50, so by dressing in purple with Red Hats they could put a little punch and panache back into their lives and become highly visible again. It seems this has become popular the world over and here I am miles away from anywhere having just come across it. 

Here is the poem: 

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple
And here are the ladies !

So they get out and celebrate  life and having fun and the funniest bit was that the one woman at the table who was under fifty could wear pink and lavender ! 

Friday, 10 May 2013

The power of colour

It started off innocently enough. I was preparing the ground for Tara ..when she finally joins us and I can, joy of joys, take her for lovely walks in the creek by our house. This is what I found which I think is truly staggering - the audacity of autumnal nature in its full technicolour glory.

When I noticed this fruit I had to go up close to check whether it was real. And this is all at the end of our road. Identifications now needed but enjoy their splendour. 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Getting acquainted with a resident ... PYTHON

This is the moment I have been fearing but this morning as I was sweeping away the leaves from the pool side this is what I came across:

I called out to my lovely neighbour and I hauled him out of his shower. He came and identified it as a carpet python, aka cocos- we think it is about 2 metres in length and it was just sunning itself by the railings. We also saw that its body bulged in the middle which might indicate it has recently eaten a rat or a small rodent. He then lent me his book on wildlife which said that these pythons were common in all Brisbane suburbs! They are non venomous but kill by constricting the prey and bites may need a tetanus shot.My thoughts go to Bill Bryson's book Down Under which warned me that Australia is host to a huge number of these challenging creatures. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Marvellous Melbourne II

Batmania, Bareport, Bareheep, Barehurp or even Bareberp, all sounding as if they are suffering from an acute case of indigestion, are the unpalatable names that were considered for this new city. Somehow they don't have the same ring as Melbourne, eventually named after William Lamb the first Viscount of Melbourne, the then British Prime Minister. It all started around 1835 with John Batman signing a treaty for the acquisition of land from Wurundjeri elders. 

Robert Hoddle was the man responsible for Melbourne's wonderful grid system. In 1842 it was incorporated into a town along the Yarra river - a few tents and huts is how it all began.

What is remarkable about this city is that it has withstood everything that has been thrown in its way. It has had the benefits of the Gold Rush and the Royal Exhibition Hall and even acted as the capital for a number of years but it was also hit by depressions and the Great Wars and deep financial crisis at various times in its history. This led to times of boom and bust which brought about poverty and stagnation and even times of unrest. 

Interestingly enough as we toured the city we felt that it reminded us a lot of Liverpool which was our home in the North of England for a number of years and we could relate to the rather seventies architecture with its emphasis on bright colours and boxes and the attempts to bring life back into the docklands. The result is that the city is a mix of some of these more troubled times with the recent surge in economic activity and creativity and the splendour of some of its moments of glory from the previous two centuries. 

Let me show you what I mean :

The rather questionable mixture of mid 20 century architecture with something ultra modern.
The old brick buildings with the strong primary colours and the emerging skyscrapers behind. 

 The stunning architecture of this building and the modern tram 
 The views from the Yarra river from a bridge 
 The Parliament, or part of it, with the impressive imported lamps 
 The beauty of the State Library and the Royal Exhibition Building which houses antique shows and displays of white bear skins and stags.

All the seats in this radiating arrangement were full of eager students and scholars 
The beautiful roof and sky lights of the State Library 
The Royal Exhibition Building with its wonderful arches and paint work showing off its rather unusual collections. 

You could not even begin to appreciate this city until you have climbed onto one of these which takes you around the main CBD - from where you can explore the more intimate lanes like Degraves St and the Royal Arcade.

There are surprises on every corner, something to sip or eat, an old building to admire or a new one to astound. The languages are free and fancifully foreign and in amongst them all lives this free Ozzie spirit of openness, enjoyment and adventure. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Marvellous Melbourne

They say it is the most desirable location in the world to live in - I was curious to see what it was like and can certainly say that there is a lot on offer and what we saw in a couple of days formed a first and very favourable impression with a promise to return for more. 

It's autumn in Australia but there is very little evidence of that in Brisbane - not so in Melbourne where the wind was chilly and the leaves were turning on the oaks and the plane trees.

 What I loved about it : 

The cultural diversity. There were Indians and Bangladeshis, Italians and Greeks, Koreans and Vietnamese. Each community has laid claim to a little part of the town, so the Greeks in Londsdale St, though perhaps not in such big numbers anymore, the Italians in Lygon St, the Vietnamese in Victoria St and on it goes. The food, is heavenly and there is so much choice and variety. I just had to find my very own spanakopitta which was authentic and delicious and cost $8 ! I will occasionally resort to giving prices because I am still stunned at how much everything costs here. 

It is not hard to see how these communities formed the backbone of Melbourne. I went to Victoria Market which dates back to the 1878 (apparently the biggest market in the Southern Hemisphere)  and I was bowled over by the fish, the meat, the fresh fruit and vegetables, the deli counters, the Greeks working next to the Chinese, the Italians with the Philipinos. In the Greek world and affectionately by someone very dear to me I was known as koiliodoulaki - a slave to my stomach ! Yes Food is important to us Greeks. 

An abundance of fresh fish and shell fish
Tuna and salmon in vibrant colours and plentiful quantities 
One of the many deli counters 
A Greek deli with all sorts of olives and Greek cheeses - bliss 
The biggest aubergines I have ever seen
Lovely pumpkins 
Butternut squashes 
Fresh vegetables and herbs 
A whole stall dedicated to all kids of mushrooms - these are oyster but below are a lot more varieties
Best of all was this sign in one of the Greek Restaurants which had me smiling all day. Look carefully at the last line ! More on Melbourne its history and the city in my next blog.