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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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Wild Brisbane Companions

You might be thinking of wild young things in the infamous Fortitude Valley but actually the ones I am going to talk about are no further than my back garden. This was a topic discussed by Gillian Paxton from the University of Queensland whose subject was Wild Brisbane Companions- living with Common Native Animals.
I am picking up her theme because I really do feel I have a couple of wild companions who I would like to introduce you to. There are the shy ones I have blogged about before, the reptiles in my garden like the green tree snake and the carpet python.They, I have to say with a bit of relief, are not regulars but these guys are :
This is Wally the water dragon, and his offspring is also around, usually face up near the compost waiting for something to drop from the sky. We shall call him Junior as I have no idea what sex he /she might be. Junior has haunts, like any young one would do, and I can predict pretty much where to find him at any one time during the day. The best vision of junior is when he is climbing the tibouchina and sleeps on one of the far out branches. The only thing that gives him away is his tail which hangs down from the main branch.

Junior waiting for Godot 

This is Junior heading to Bed.

As he settles down for the night the Possum and its baby come romping out and often dance loud dances on my roof and eat the tender shoots of my passion fruit plants but I can forgive them, if I was a possum those would be my delicacies too. They live in the neighbour's roof - a good use of roof space!

And finally as I walk out the house I am more than likely to meet one of these who have become so adapted to the city environment. Brush Turkeys have been called Birds behaving Badly because they have adapted really well to living in cities and whereas in the 1930s there were fears of extinction, their populations are now thriving. They annoy home owners as they often dig up seeds and plants in their attempts to build up their own little nests. 

So you can see how these wild companions have found their own place in the city. And they cross the road like you and me looking out for traffic as they go. There is space enough for all of us.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Batty Boat cruises

Batty Boat cruises.

You hear the name of this Cruise and you really do wonder what might be behind it. This is one of the rare instances when a name in Australian is extended. This is a cruise about Bats. We went on it because we see bats flying past our deck every night – at around dusk as the light is fading they all fly out looking for their dinner while I am busy in the kitchen cooking mine. 

They are also called flying foxes, I suppose because their sweet little faces do resemble foxes. Bats are one of these creatures that suffer from a terrible reputation. From disease spreading to rabies carrying they seem to attract the worst.

However they are very vital to the environment and deserve our protection if not our cuddles. They are mammals of course and produce babies like us. There are big ones and little ones. We mainly see the big ones flying around but the small ones eat insects and the bigger ones, which are vegetarian, are very important for seed dispersal and pollination. Here is a picture of one rescued in our garden in India.

One of the reasons I am writing about this is because when the boat cruises started back in 1984 there were over 160,000 bats flying out every night or near those numbers from Indooroopilly Island. But when we were there the other day the numbers were way, way down and according to the organisers they are falling drastically every year. Part of it is changing habitats and this is a huge issue in areas like Brisbane where the city is expanding so quickly and where normally remote habitats come within the city boundaries.We travelled from Mowbray Park down the Brisbane river about 22 kms away from the sea. While on the cruise we listened to some interesting commentary about bats and were also able to see some baby orphaned bats which were very cute. 

Picture taken from Animals of Australia website 

The cruises are run by the Wildlife Preservation of Queensland Brisbane Branch and I suppose the reason I am writing about this is because I understand what a hard task they have on their hands. So if you are interested in becoming a member or a volunteer or going to their really interesting talks then go to http://www.wildlife.org.au and check out the details. 

In their newsletter I came across a very interesting article entitled "Wild Brisbane Companions" and I will blog about this soon. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Beat this

Two days ago, before the weekend there was nothing between me and my post box. Look what has been built in that short time - a fine pyramid of silk threads, like the glass pyramid in the Louvre in Paris, but one which sways in the wind, catches the rays and plays away. 

Postman usually have to negotiate cats and dogs. In Australia its spiders !

Friday, 14 February 2014

Bus etiquette

Is there such a thing ? In a short answer very much so, and it is alive and well in Brisbane. Why this should be so I am not entirely sure, but overhearing one young man as he was ready to get on the bus has given me some answers.

This is my preferred mode of transport. I have a Go card which I touch on and off. The bus service is expansive, reasonably frequent and reliable but nowhere have I experienced old fashioned manners as I have here in Brisbane.It may have a lot to do with its roots as a big country town. The transport system started in 1885 with horse trams and then went into electric trolley buses in the 1950s before expanding to the present day CNG run buses. 

It does not matter how long you have been waiting for a bus, when one comes along you see that young people will stand aside and allow older people to get on first, followed by mums and babes.I watched as one man stood aside with his mate - his mate moaned about having to wait like this and the young man said to him:

"Mate my grandmother would kill me if I didn't do this !"

I boarded the bus before them and turned to them and said "I love the fact that you do this !"

Would you consider greeting and thanking the bus driver in New York or London ? It would seem silly but here it is the norm.

I get on and and say "Good morning" or "Good day" and more often then not the bus driver, (a lot of them women by the way) will say "Good day" and quite a few will say "Isn't it a beautiful day!" as if it is a rarity in Brisbane which cracks me up each time.

People leave the bus and wave and verbally thank the driver with a loud "Thank you driver !"I do it without fail but again what is surprising is that often they will answer back and say "You have a good day", "take care", "cheers !"

On a couple of occasions younger people have given up seats for me ( Horrors to that of course, do I really look that old?) In fairness though, there are usually enough seats, except around school time when the kids get on in their very old fashioned uniforms styled on UK public schools and they will not sit down unless they have asked anyone standing if they want to sit down first. All the buses are disabled friendly so people in wheelchairs can get on and off without any issues. Free buses circulate the city like the one in the picture that you can get on and off at any stage on its route. Once on, people chat but do not talk loudly on their phones.

Did I mention the lovely and friendly conversations I have with complete strangers while waiting for a bus... 

Bus heaven - I think so.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Surprise yourself

I did. I looked through my pictures of 2013 since arriving in Australia and was very surprised to see how many I had of birds - Now you have to understand that I come from an island in the Mediterranean  where the inhabitants spend their time either catching them, hunting them, or eating them in equal abandon. And even attempts by the EU and other bodies have not managed to bring these practices to a complete stop though they are much reduced. So lets just say I did not grow up with a love for birds.
I did however marry a man who likes birds, books and taxonomy and is quick to identify and compartmentalise. Right form the start he would point out a bird and give me a name but sadly not many stuck in my brain.On safari in India, very different from those in Africa, we came to focus on the birds, and I started recognising and being able to name quite a few.  Arriving in Australia this has been taken to a whole new level. They are on our deck, in our garden, up the street, in the botanical gardens, outside our bedroom window. They are plain, gaudy, striped, spotted, bright. 
They are, to my surprise, a complete delight. 
 Rainbow lorikeets on our deck
Kookaburra in our tree
A magpie on our balcony

The beautifully coloured purple swamp hen 

 Another kookaburra  in our tree

 Australian white ibis
 Magpie Lark
 Egrets maybe ?
Noisy miners
 Crested pigeon
 Sulphur crested cockatoos
Moor hen and baby 

A twitcher in the making - who knows ? 
What has surprised you in your life lately ?