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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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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Anzac Day - the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings

Today, the 25th of April 2015, is the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, a disastrous campaign in Turkey which saw many Australians and New Zealanders lose their lives. However this marked a seminal moment in the history of these nations and while I cannot speak for New Zealand, I can say that this anniversary has been hugely marked here with events, concerts, talks and commemorations all across Australia. We have attended talks about how ANZAC is perceived. It stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.We have watched interesting documentaries of how ANZAC has developed over the years, with times when it was in decline and other times when it was wholeheartedly embraced. It is effectively regarded as the beginning of nationhood. We have been to concerts - free for all, with wartime favourites and visited the ANZAC memorials in Brisbane and in Sydney. 
From the Sydney Memorial -
The sculpture is called "Sacrifice" - it is based on the story of the Spartan Greeks. They were warriors of note and were told to return to Sparta with their shields. Th sculptor created an image of the soldier on his shield being carried by his mother, sister, and wife with a child.

From the Brisbane Shrine of Remembrance which was built in 1928 in the Greek Classic revival Style of Helidon stone and  Queensland Granite with an Eternal Flame. The 18 columns of the the shrine symbolise the year 1918 when hostilities ended. It is always significant for me to see the Greek influence and connection and one which I am happy to share with you.

Memorials are in every town and city and the men who lost their lives are honoured and commemorated. The phrase " lest we forget" on everyone's lips. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bondi Beach

Bronzed bodies, slick surfers, aged but eager retirees, water babes, health aficionados and all weather swimmers but above all the iconic and ever present life guards in their characteristic red and yellow colours, ever ready to go out there and snatch someone back from the ferocious force of the waves and the surf. 

Can you guess what I am talking about and where this might be? It is one of the world's top beaches,  Bondi Beach, home of the series, the bods and all those who have made it in Ozzie life. Named after an Aboriginal word Boondi meaning "water breaking over the rocks."

We walked along, we popped into the older buildings on the shore line to admire the faded pictures of how much the area had changed, we took in an exhibition of orchids and birds, we dipped our feet in the water- it was perhaps a little cool for anything more, though there were many who thought otherwise. 

We strolled along the entire length of the beach and then headed up into the headlands, with the most photogenic rocks around, sculpted just so, by eons of fierce winds and wild tempests.  We passed the Bondi Icebergs, the all year round swimming venue. We saw the beaches of Tamarama and Bronte. We encountered pups and older dogs, dog walkers from the East End of London - know what I mean wink wink, and got blown away by the views, the winds and the palpable sense of entitlement and well being that the area oozed out of its salty pores. 

There is little doubt that this is the place that epitomises the good life, the fun life and the healthy life of a lot of aspiring Aussies. I would not say no to it myself. 

Monday, 20 April 2015

AIDA at Sydney Harbour

Over the weekend we watched Verdi's opera AIDA which was set at the water's edge, with a backdrop of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera house. The setting, with a towering cast of Nefertiti was visually engaging. I enjoyed the music and the singing but I was very disappointed by all the rest. The costumes were bizarre and out of place, some of the casting was dubious, and the design of the set and the way the opera unfolded just didn't seem to work at all. It is not often that I am disappointed on this continent but this was one of the occasions. However I am sure you will enjoy seeing the lovely cast of Nefertiti which was the backdrop for the opera. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The changing landscape

Our visit to South Australia was only a taster of what this state had to offer and in our few days there we understood that we need to return and explore so much more of it. Till now I have spoken about the Barossa Valley and the beautiful rolling hills with vineyards changing colour in the autumn sun.

This is another side to the state, the huge expanses of wheat fields and pastures. The pictures tell it beautifully. The road sign is a subconscious pull - you have to go down this route. 

The state boasts the longest river in Australia, some 2,508 kms, the third most navigable in the world and they say it is about 60 million years old. Some of the cliffs and rock faces give some evidence of this. It is glorious in its expanse and its path. We crossed the ferry to get to a place called Swan Reach where we met an English woman who had emigrated in 88. Her husband had died and she now ran a bric a brac shop in the high street with some coffee and cakes for the passing travellers who were waiting for the ferry. This is the sign in her shop and this was a townlet where there were undoubtedly more birds, corellas to be precise, then people. The noise was deafening and I asked her how they slept but I guess its all part of the what you are used to and how you choose to live.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

South Australia's heritage and produce

There is something special about an area which is so into its produce and the lay of the land. The aboriginal tribes, the Kaurna, were certainly the first to recognise the abundance of the earth in South Australia.Then came the free Settlers and they struggled to settle among the eucalypts, the dry areas and the hilly country but they were determined and able and the results are there for us to see from the wine growing hills, to the wide wheat fields and the grazing pastures for the sheep and cows. 
So when we were in the Barossa Valley we went to a Farmers market held in the nearby town of Angaston and had the best time trying local produce, marvelling at the fruit and the vegetables and talking to the stall holders. There was a lady there who sold the freshest organic vegetables and fruit with such an expressive face, weather beaten, furrowed, challenged but proud of what was in front of her even though it would never have passed any supermarket test. I stopped to talk to her, as I told her how much I admired the young rhubarb that was bunched up and for sale, but I told her we were from out of town and could not take it back. We chatted some more about her apples and her land and then I moved off and she came rushing after me and said "You could cook it and take it with you!" Such a lovely thought but sadly I didn't have the facilities to do so. She remained in my mind though and I circled around one more time, plucking up the courage to ask to take a picture of her. She spoke English with a heavy German accent. In the end I decided it was best to leave it to my descriptive skills but to me she epitomised the area in so many ways.
South Australia was inhabited by free settlers - many from Britain to start with, and then religious refugees from Germany. There are German towns, Klemzig, Lobenthal, German street names, German shops, customs and traditions that were passed down.  The area was settled by German settlers in the 1840s and has remained true to its roots. The town of Hahndorf was named after Captain Dirk Hahn who sailed over to Adelaide with German migrants and then helped establish a community. During the war they had to rename it to Ambleside as there was a backlash against anything German but it reverted to Hahndorf in 1935 and proudly so, the glassware, the paintings the strudels, beer and sausages all singing their roots.The whole state is dotted with more Lutheran churches then I care to count. 
 With perhaps the occasional Greek thrown in for good measure and some spinach pie.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The friendliest face

The friendliest face in SA but which SA I cannot say...

This lovely expressive creature was in a field with some cows in the Barossa. He was as curious about me as I was of him and while the hubby was off chasing birds, with his binoculars, I took the opportunity of getting up close and personal with this chappie. He was edging closer and closer to the camera and wanting to see what strange creature I was and whether I had a treat in my hand. 

You can't say he doesn't have the kindest eyes and the maddest black and white hairdo !

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Autumnal splendour - round 2

In my previous post I was out there trying to find colour in Queensland. A visit to South Australia satisfied that need and I have come back bursting with it - as was the area.  Autumn was turning the leaves and everywhere you looked the landscapes were ripe for artists. Of course one of the most famous of Ausralian watercolour painters, Hans Heysen did exactly that, living his life in South Australia and recording for all of us the splendour of the eucalypts and the colours of the country side. 
Starting from the vines and then moving on to the trees, the purple beeches next to the golden ashes. The maples and the planes all competing for the best and the brightest. We travelled in the Barossa and the Adelaide hills, savouring the Australian landscapes, with trees the colour of deep purple right next to a vibrant yellow. Turning the corner there were hedgerows and dry stone walls reminiscent of Europe and the UK and in between hamlets and small communities which were quaint and full of their 200 year heritage. South Australia was the only state settled by free settlers after all.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Pink autumnal splendour

Today is the first day I felt a shiver. Autumn may be finally arriving in sub tropical Queensland. Brisbane has a very steady climate - you could summarise it as Warm.  What it doesn't have though is a marked changing of the seasons. In Europe and in the States, Autumn is all about the leaves changing to a deep orangey red setting landscapes on fire. Here the temperature drops a little and it is getting drier.I decided I had to go out and chase the colours on my own. I didn't have to go far.

The house is surrounded by snowy caps - well these ones are as fickle as dandelions but they stretch up on both sides of the house and envelope the deck with specks of snow. The winds have been picking up of late and now the snow, fallen to the deck, is giving way to that pink blush of lushness and fecundity. The fruit arriving on our lilly pillies, a favourite plant of the Aboriginal communities starts dot- like and then grows to a pink hue of teenagehood before the onset of an adult red.
And then you have the gums which produce these flowers and pods which are so attractive. Times like these I do wish I was a bird...

Autumn down under, Brissie side appears perfect in pink.