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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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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

What's in a name

When I read some of the place names in Australia out loud you would have thought I had difficulty reading - Perhaps I am to be forgiven given the strange names that often appear and have their origin in some of the aboriginal languages- there are many- and I would say all quite challenging for me. So it took me a while before I could get my tongue around Indooroopilly and Woolloongabba but they now roll off the tongue. The latter meaning "whirling waters" or "fight talk place" is the home of Brisbane Cricket ground known affectionately by everyone as the "Gabba".

I think Queensland seems to have its fair share of names based on Aboriginal languages which the whites readily adopted and then mispronounced in some cases.Then they added their own, often based on some of the personalities that played a part in early Australian history.

The towns of Bowen and Roma are named after the first Governor General of Queensland George Bowen and his wife Countess Diamantina di Roma. 

The town of Calliope in northern Queensland was named after the ship of the same name which brought the Governor of New South Wales to Port Curtis in 1854. 

Cooktown, also in northern Queensland, was the place where James Cook beached his ship the "Endeavour" in 1770.

While lots take their names from personalities and places in the UK some others seem homegrown in a very Aussie way.

Banana in central Queensland with a population of 627 was named after a bullock which was very helpful to the farmers in the area. 

Blackbutt population 1000 was named after the Blackbutt tree ( eucalyptus pilularis) which is native to the area.

Wonglepong apparently meaning forgotten sands is strangely enough quite memorable. 

Where the Aussie humour really comes through is when you come across place names like : 

Come by Chance - a settlement which pastoralists came across by chance on their way elsewhere. 

Humpybong  meaning dead shelters signifying the huts left behind by the British when they settled further away in Brisbane. 

There is a Mount Buggery in Victoria 

And a Nowhere Else in Tasmania 

Xantipee the only X in the place names was named after Socrates wife who was as hard as the granite in the area ! 

Whereas Yorkey's Knob was named after George Yorkey in the late 19th Century. 

Humptydoo is a small township near Darwin famous for big boxing crocodiles. 

Tittybong is in Victoria and clearly tittilates its visitors. 

The imaginatively called Watchamacallit Dam is found in Southern Australia as is Bullshit Hill but New South Wales can proudly boast having Wankey Hill.

There is also another category of names which are quite prevalent here and they are the ones that betray the emotions of the people discovering the various areas.

So we have : 

Deception Bay just up the road from us 
Mount Disappointment in Victoria 
Lake Muck  in New South Wales and 
Dismal Swamp in Tasmania 

The best is reserved for last and that goes to the longest place name in Australia which is : 

Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill ! 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Women with clever hands

I saw an exhibition recently which is remarkable in every way from the woman, Dr Louise Hamby who decided to collect and curate it, to the women themselves, some of them now deceased, who created these beautiful artefacts. 

Dr Hamby is an anthropolgist and she has enthusiastically collected and recorded all the exhibits over two decades. This is a touring exhibition so if you are lucky enough to notice it where you are don't miss the opportunity to see it. She was assisted in this by assistant curator Lucy Malirrimurruway Wanapyngu. The exhibition features elaborate fibre work pieces created by women artists from Gapuwiyak in northeast Arnhem Land.The pieces include works made by women of different ages.Dr Louise Hamby from the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, and the Gapuwiyak Community developed this exhibition in partnership with the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery. This is a fraction of the beautiful exhibits that were on display, some so delicate and fine that left you admiring this handicraft and hoping to god that some of the women have passed their skills to the next generation. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The new Menagerie - continued

I didn't think I was going to be able to capture the Possum and the baby so soon but here they are - they appeared last night, checking us out. The baby was clinging on to mummy and was happy to be riding along. The rainbow lorikeets took a stop in the tree and munched on the seeds.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The new menagerie

It will be very different now -sadly not one I can put on a lead and take for a walk but I can consider that they are part of the new menagerie because they have chosen us as their preferred place of building a home or coming to visit.

First up is Maggie the Magpie - I think she is female because her nape is greyish.These birds are notorious here for being quite aggressive when they have young and have been known to swoop down on you. So far I have never been attacked in this way, and I personally find the miner birds much more aggressive. So Maggie lives in a Bunya Pine in our valley - we see her perched - and then she swoops down to the deck and is happily fed on bread and bits of potato. She seems quite tame and will take things out of your hand.
In the front garden are the crested pigeons, Paul and Pam who have been fascinating to watch as they build their nest in the blossoming frangipani tree. The female sits on the newly built nest and the male who has these beautiful mauve and green tips, goes off and finds twigs. He then comes back and literally walks on her to deliver the twig to her mouth and she spends hours arranging it just so in her new nest. Today they were doing a mating dance in the street with their tail feathers up strutting their stuff. So babies soon we hope. 
Finally and here I have to promise you a picture as they are much more difficult to spot is the mummy possum Penny and the baby who appear on the tibouchina tree in the garden in the evenings. Cute little marsupials, very Australian and considered a pest by most. We quite like their nocturnal appearances alongside the deck, looking inquiringly into our part as if to say, so you are the new neighbours. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

My Tara

I can barely write it or think it, though I have lived without her for almost a year, but Tara is gone - she died the day I completed her application form to come to Australia, convinced finally that after a summer of ill health she was now fit to travel and join us at last. From being fit and stable she suddenly became unwell, took herself off outside and died the next day. My heart, my head and my eyes cry for her but I have to tell myself that perhaps this was her way of saying the trip was not to be and lets face it, she was often known to win the argument and for getting her own way.
My sister who lovingly took her into her home, for the past year, to minimise quarantine time in Australia,  gave her the best time. After the inactivity of India - too hot, too crowded sometimes to walk, she was taken on 5 kilometre hikes, lost 4 kilos and was reborn. She ruled the roost and as always in her dealings, went into a household of other dogs and established her position without rancour or dispute. She was simply Tara and my adored, beloved dog who for 11 years gave me her all in every way from her morning greeting to her evening departure to bed. She was a french demoiselle from Chambery and came to us as a puppy of three months and from the very first we could not love her enough or have her love us back more. She swam in every stream in Switzerland, including every muddy puddle, cowered when she met cows and was one of the beloved dogs of the friday walkers. She had holidays in Cyprus often travelling on more expensive tickets then we did and when we didn't take her she lived with Madame Scherrer in Nyon who took her up to her mountain chalet, in Gstaad, with a couple of other precious pooches, feasting on plums from her garden and of course raspberries from ours. She handled India with the tolerance of a spoilt maharani and chased after the little chipmunks once in Lodhi Gardens before she gave up on them forever. She was loved on Triveni by one and all and the whole of the sikh community of the gurdwara nearby knew only her by name and often invited us into their homes so they could give her a biscuit or pet her unusual for India blonde soft coat. If truth be told this turned a little grey due to Delhi dust but it was heartening to see her lovely sandy colour reappear in Cyprus. She is probably the only Labrador in India to have knocked off the burliest of Sikhs on his motorbike.He picked himself up off the road, dusted himself off and said nothing.  
She was the only girl in a litter of boys, I needed a girl for balance in the family, and she was chosen so the boys could grow up with a dog, a luxury that neither I nor my husband experienced. She was a chick puller, a conversationalist, a complete coward. She introduced me to so many unknown people who would stop to talk to me and her, she was universally admired for her good looks and her wonderful eyelashes and at the end of it as the boys grew up and moved away to schools and universities from the boys' dog she became my Tara and daily we would embark, with only each other for company on wonderful walks of exploration, introspection and relaxation. My life will be so much the poorer for no longer having her by my side. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

My country

That is how a lot of the indigenous people refer to Australia and rightly so. The Gallery of Modern Art held an exhibition entitled "My country I still call Australia home "and my mother in law and I went along to explore it. We came away from a guided tour shaken by the strength of emotion that surrounds the way indigenous people create art, their stories and lives but also the clear indication from white Australians of how wrong they were in their treatment of these people. A lot has changed since those early years when the settlers were intent on exterminating a population or ensuring that children were brought up away from their families, by white people, who knew better. Some of the art was steeped in tradition, the law poles painted with natural colours to keep out the evil spirits, the flying floxes depicted in colours of orchre and black, the funeral poles containing the bones of persons, to be accompanied by spirits into the next world. 
 The Flying floxes depicted in colours from the earth 

A traditional head gear encompassing some of the rituals 
 Some of the beautiful woven baskets 
One of the amazing family portraits created by Vernon Ah Kee 
 The funeral poles where the bones of ancestors are kept to allow the spirits to take them to the next life.
One of the politically charged works - it took a long time for the politicians to say sorry for all the wrong policies perpetrated on the aboriginal people and yet they can forgive.This work done by Bindi Cole of the Wathaurung people a composition with emu feathers of a very emotive message.
Samantha  Hobson's Burnt grass seems utterly real in its colours and tenor.
The mimies - spirits who live in the rocks 
The wonderful pots with depictions of bush tucker created by the some of the aboriginal clans up north though this is an art that has only recently been taken up by them.