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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Saturday, 25 October 2014

G20 and all that Jazz

The count down to the G20 coming to Brisbane got off to a great start last night with the opening ceremony at the Piazza on South Bank. A culturally rich programme with Aboriginal groups, Torres Islander dance groups, circus groups, Robert Forster from the Go Between Band and the amazing William Barton Playing Didgeridoo and guitar at the same time. There was a diversity and an informality which I love about the way Brisbane does things - but also a determination and a spirit to showcase Brisbane in every possible way to the leaders of the world.

When the Cultural programme was finished we all got up and walked with the Premier leading the way down to South bank, clapping our  clap sticks as we went along, to the Cultural forecourt where he gave a crisp and clear talk about what this was all about - Brisbane at its best. 

Then buildings along the water front but also further in, came alive with the Colour me Brisbane lights. 
Spectacular and sparkly, impressive and innovative. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

My Queensland

There is an awful lot of it and I am keen to see more - but I am also tapping in to what is being made available to me from the local government.
So from my newsletter, delivered to my door,  I know I can :

Choose one of three workout videos with exact exercise techniques to keep me healthy and fit.

Have free navigation maps for Queensland most popular boating spots.

Celebrate Grandparents day on 26th October to show gratitude to grandparents for their contribution.

Enjoy free transport on the river all times of the day and night.

Be amazed at the city lighting up in a series of fantastic light shows.

Watch the Parade on Nov 1st to celebrate the city's diverse cultures and join in a latin party at the end.

Go to a Jazz concert with celebrated musicians.

Watch a world class Ballet on the river stage.

And every single one of these events is free to me. Yes the G20 visiting has something to do with it. I do ask myself if this is sustainable and perhaps it is not but at the moment I am happily living in a city which offers so much to its citizens.
Diary chocker full of fab days ahead. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Know your Storm

I received one of those " Living in Brisbane" leaflets through my door and I always find them useful to read right the way through whether it is to find out about community activities or tell you how to recycle and where. 

This edition is brimming with great opportunities and activities but it also has an item called- be prepared for storm season. This got me thinking about cyclones and typhoons and hurricanes and I realized that I knew nothing about them.

Now seriously do you know your cyclone from your hurricane? I thought not. 

Do you know why some of them have male names and others female names ?

So I decided to do a little research to find out more about this. 

There is really no significant difference between these three named weather systems. They are actually named mainly from where they occur as this map shows taken from the web:

Weather map

So basically in North America the weather systems are called Hurricanes. In the western Pacific and in Asia they are called Typhoons and in the Southern hemisphere and the Indian Ocean they are mainly referred to as Tropical Cyclones. 

They are accumulations of air that centre around an area of low pressure, bringing high speed winds, heavy rain and thunder storms.The circulation of warm moist air takes on a circular motion due to the Earth's rotation, rotating clockwise in the Southern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere.

How they were named has a little to do with Queensland so I am happy to report on this aspect as well. Clement Wragge, who was Director of the Queensland Met office at the end of the 19th Century was the first person who named the storms after real people. While this idea did not last, another one, which was similar, did catch on. 

The American Weather Bureau started naming hurricanes as it was easy to identify them that way. For many years, for some peculiar reason, storms were given female names. Some people found this practice unacceptable so from the 1970s storms were named after male and female names on an arbitrary basis. So the first storm will be Alex, the second, Bonnie, the third Charlie and so on. 

Nowadays a list is maintained by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva, and the list has female as well as male names and they are allocated to the storms but apparently when some become associated with severe weather events like Hurricane Katrina in the US, they are retired off the list. The Philippines, has its own naming system. Sadly perhaps it gets more than its fair share. This in a nutshell is what storms are all about. 

So now you can safely go out there knowing that there is no difference between the three but are you prepared for the one that might come your way, whatever it may be called ? 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Brisbane Open House

I am a relative new comer to this City and perhaps a little starry eyed after four years in New Delhi but this City impresses the hell out of me. This weekend has been Brisbane Open House – a weekend dedicated to the opening of over 100 buildings to make them accessible to its citizens, and it is not just about Heritage and History, its about cutting edge technology and innovation, environmentally friendly buildings and rooftop creations. It is a chance to see behind closed doors and into how businesses, organizations such as ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and the Judiciary function. It is about openness and accessibility to citizens and engendering a spirit of curiosity about the city but also of pride and ownership in its many and varied achievements.

I had only a taster of what was on offer but in that short time I had an informative tour of the ABC, I saw where all the news programmes aired on our TVs were recorded and marveled at the fact that there was not a single cameraman there to hold the camera. The cameras are all pre programmed, almost as if my magic. I had my picture taken with the local celebrity Weather lady Jen, by a volunteer who thought I would like nothing better. I could barely refuse.

I went on a tour of the law courts – a building which has so many solar, water saving and energy saving devices built into its structure where huge windows provide maximum natural light and where e- trials are conducted in a push of buttons to start cameras, present documents on screens and to video link witness statements when needed. My thoughts went to my early years as a barrister when everything was done on paper. How things have changed. 

I visited MacArthur Chambers from where General MacArthur conducted his wartime effort in WWII and again a volunteer insisted I had a picture of me sitting in General MacArthur's chair which is normally out of bounds so double delight of me for all you which is highly unusual ! 
I spent the morning in Bogo Jail going on a tour of one of Australia’s most notorious prisons. Its leaflet, all in red with imposing letters, is entitled “Escape the 21st Century”. On offer History Tours, Ex In -mate and Ex- Officer Tours and Ghost Tours. What a hoot ! Our tour guide, a burly Ozzie with a booming voice related stories of the harsh lives of the criminals and those of the most notorious ones like Slim Halliday who apparently managed to escape and be caught on several occasions.

Perhaps most romantically of all I visited Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence, Newstead House, and  walked through immaculate period rooms dating from the late 1800. The house was built in 1846 but had a number of celebrated owners. There is an original wind up music instrument, a self -pouring tea pot, a swivelling kettle, beautiful silver and ornate crystals and bibelots to name but a few of the remarkable objects found in the house.  The covered verandas look out over a flowering Jacaranda and a sausage tree and down below the Brisbane River glides by.

This whole weekend is ably put together by Brisbane City and it is ably manned all over by volunteers who are happy to share some of the heritage, history, innovation or wonder about the bricks and mortar which they bring alive.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Clever Birds

I said I would give you an update on the cockatoos. They visit regularly. The sick ones though sadly not. The other day I watched as two came to the table. This time one picked up the sunflower seed ball ( new to the bird table) and started eating away. The other one approached and tried to share but the first one would have nothing of it. So I gave her a piece of her own and they were having a feast with their seeds. They had so much dexterity in their manipulation it was great to watch. Not unlike my fellow Cypriots eating pasatembo, at the cinema !  

Don't think though that it is just these big squawking birds that impress. I had made a tuna salad for lunch, put it on the table outside and then went to the get the plates. A Pied butcher bird swept down and picked the tuna out of the salad and had a great Sunday lunch. They have a completely different palate ! I was so amused I forgot to take a picture of it. Picture from Owen Wilson.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Flowers and why we would return

The trip to Western Australia could no be complete if I didn't talk about the flowers we saw. Spring was just unfurling and it was beautiful to witness - in fact we would return again to see more of it a little later in the season - mid October perhaps when more of the wild orchids were out. I spotted one only. 

So here are some of the ones we saw,  some cultivated, some wild, which surrounded us on this trip. 
Cornflowers,  everlasting pinks and gentian blues...

 Gum nuts and flowering gums

Fields full of wild white lilies - I had no idea that these lilies grew wild. Sorry about overexposure.

Bottle brush with the most vibrant colours 

 A buddleia of sorts I think but if you were a butterfly wouldnt you get drunk on this one ?
 The little pink fronds were luminescent in the light

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Prevelly - an interesting history

Visiting this little town on the west coast of Australia, my husband saw a church on a hillside and said, "that looks like a Greek Orthodox Church." After we explored the wild and wonderful coast line we drove into the little town and up to the church which sits on a little hill at the entrance to the town. It is a Greek Orthodox church in the depths of Western Australia but it is its history is what I want to share with you today. 

Geoff Edwards was born in Shrewsbury in England in 1919 and he came out to Australia with his parents and they settled in Peel Estate, near Fremantle in Western Australia. He was as he describes himself "only a Pommy migrant". Life was hard on the farm where his parents tried to eek a living. He lived on the farm until he was 16 and then went to Kalgoorlie, to look for work. 

The second world war broke out and he enlisted and was posted to Crete in May of 1941. He fought in the Battle of Crete and was captured and imprisoned but he escaped and a shepherd led him to Preveli Monastery and there he received the protection of the monks.  He had food and care until he was able to be evacuated on the the HMS Thrasher in August of 1941. On that night he vowed that he would never forget the Cretan people and in particular the monks of the monastery of Preveli for giving cover to him and other soldiers during the battle of Crete.

In the early 1950s Mr. Edwards bought a big parcel of land on the coast about 10 km from Margaret River and called it Prevelly Park. He built a caravan park and some holiday houses.In 1979, Mr. Edwards built St. John the Theologian Chapel on a hill at Prevelly Park as a lasting reminder of his love for the Cretan community who helped him escape the Germans during World War 11. The chapel was furnished with donations from the Greek community and ex-servicemen organisations. This is the Church we visited today - 

He also set up a fund for Cretans and a scholarship is granted every year to a university student. In 1989, Mr. Edwards published his book "The road to Prevelly" and part of the proceeds of the sale of the book goes towards the care and maintenance of the Chapel of St. John The Theologian at Prevelly, Western Australia and the Preveli Monastery in Crete, Greece.He worked tirelessly to support his commitment to the people of Crete and there is no doubt that he fulfilled it in every way. This unexpected story and connection to the Greek world touched us both. 

Mr. Edwards was awarded an order of Australia Medal (OAM), on 7th April, 2000, for services to the Greek Community and shortly afterwards,  passed away peacefully, on 11th April, 2000. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Margaret River- Cape to Cape

This is an area in WA, right at its southern most part, which is famous for its wineries and its food. We relegated both of those to the hours after dark and concentrated on exploring the whole area from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. 
We stayed at Cape Lodge, a beautiful vineyard with gardens, fabulous luminous plants, a restaurant to die for, overlooking a small dam, and vineyards galore. Trimmed and tied back in an orderly fashion they transported me to the vineyards of the Lavaux in Switzerland painted by my friend Marjolijn Thie- ter Beek.
We passed famous vineyards, Cullens, Vasse Felix, the Cheeky Monkey and relished the thought of trying some of their wines that night. Then we headed off down the coast line to Prevelly, the mouth of the Margaret River and we watched with awe as the waves hurtled up and crashed on the beach. This was a surfers paradise and there were a lot in the water managing to tame the waves in ways I know not.

She is a mother with a baby dolphin suckling from her, permanently on the rock, from which she was carved overlooking this awesome coastline.
The mouth of the Margaret River, one of the cleanest rivers in Australia

Everywhere we went we encountered breathtaking coastlines and this is one which is particularly special as I will relate in my next blog. We headed inland to Margaret River, the town of the area and enjoyed a stroll down its main street, before heading off to the Boranup Forest with its majestic Karri trees growing to over 100 ft.

 We travelled down the coast to Augusta and finally Cape Leeuwin - to visit the tallest Lighthouse in Australia and where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.