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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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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Lights and the Spirit of Christmas

Living in the sub tropics the spirit of Xmas is slightly more elusive, so when I joined a friend on a tour of Christmas Lights in the northern suburbs of Brisbane I was not sure of what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised.
Firstly because the bus we went on sporting the title of “Christmas Lights”, was decorated from top to bottom with garlands, koala bears, snowflakes and tinsel. What a festive bus it was.
Then off we went on the tour of the northern suburbs and the houses and churches we saw were dazzling and expelling an aura of festiveness all around totally in the spirit of the season.To cap it all the lovely visit of a great Santa carrying sweets for everyone. 
Here are a few for you:

 Love the kangaroos and the water dragons and the koalas with the snowman's hat on.
The lovely houses, places of worship, or warm family homes. 
It remains for me to wish you all a very merry Xmas, a wonderful new year, one with more peace and more tranquility for all, more justice and fairness in the world, happiness and health in abundance with some wealth thrown in for good measure. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pulled back from extinction

The history of Lord Howe would not be complete if I didn't mention the creatures that they literally saved from extinction. A rather brown, fairly unprepossessing bird called the woodhen - a flightless bird which was endemic to the island. But because it was flightless and because settlement meant the introduction of feral pigs and cats the population of wood hens dropped to about 15 in the 1980s. That is when they started a concerted programme for breeding it in captivity to increase its population and they have done this successfully to the point where woodhens can be seen in the fields and forests now on the island. We found them twice, once in the forest - we had placed a bet of a million euros on who was going to spot one first and I won, and once in the fields- drinks for everyone at the bar next time we meet. 

These mutton birds make burrows in the ground and can be seen almost crash landing at dusk as they come in to feed their young.

But it not just the birds - the Phasmid-a stick insect to you and me that was thought to be extinct in the 1920s and was found on the stack of Ball's Pyramid 23kms from Lord Howe- the highest stack in the Ocean.  They mate for life - the males follow the females around and their life is dictated by what she does. They seem to have the right idea ! Several pairs were bred in Melbourne Zoo and David Attenborough is a fan !

The Sea birds - the Petrels and the Shearwaters, also known as Mutton Birds, the Masked Booby and the Red tailed Tropic bird, I have already blogged about the beautiful terns and then there are the Noddy birds. All plentiful on the islands beaches coming in to lay their eggs and raise their young. 

 The noddies nest in the branches of the big Norfolk pines and have beautiful silvery heads.
The gaily coloured Emerald doves are all over the island.
The fish are plentiful - near you, under you, circling around you. Loved the blue and violet corals, the swishing sea grass, the double headed wrasse, the blue star fish, the angel fish, the tunas, the shimmery sword fish. Didnt love the galapagos sharks that were also swimming round and had the nasty habit of circling round just as you had caught them in the corner of your foggy eye. I was reassured they were "friendly"

The sweet lips that need feeding, the sheer abundance of nature over humans and long may it be that way, makes the island a place of complete sanctuary for all. My story is complete with the finding of the heart urchins, these sand hidden creatures that live a gentle covered life until they are no more and they are washed onto the shore, slowly turn white in the sun to reveal the beautiful stars on their backs a sure sign that Xmas is round the corner. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Bikes and Hikes

Plentiful on both scores and good fun. The island has a few well frequented roads and even more paths in the pristine forests. The walks are all graded from Class 1-6 so you need to chose them carefully depending on your fitness level. The highest is Mount Gower at 875 metres and then Mt Ligbird at 777 metres.

We decided to go half way up to the Goats House Cave, a Class 4 walk, on Mount Ligbird via Transit Hill with some memorable views of the island - the forests are full of ferns and kentia palms, the biggest banyans I have seen, delicate orchids and wedding lilies- some 86% of the plants are found nowhere else. There is always something to see and admire along the paths, the startling cliffs, the birdlife, the flowers and scents. A pair of currawongs singing sweetly.  

The immense banyans with their aerial roots spreading over huge areas.
We climbed to the forest edge on Mount Ligbird together and C climbed Mount Gower with a walking group the following day. 
The view from where we climbed

For the last part of this walk we relied on ropes to pull ourselves up.