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.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Solidly spectacular

35 minutes from where I live is my closest beach - one that rivals many others on this great continent. I have a photo of the beach but today I am not going to show you that. My posting is all about how a casual walk on the promenade led me to Redcliffe Point where we gravitated towards some fishermen fishing over these rocks. They were so amazing in colour I took a few photos.


Look at the colours of the rocks, the oyster shells that are embedded in them and then look at the little mangrove plant that is shooting up from the rock itself and finally look at the layer of what appears to be a type of grass growing on the rocks. Solidly spectacular wouldn't you say. So I went on a quest of Google to find out what type of rock this was but failed. Rang up Redcliffe Tourist Information who put me in touch with Moreton Bay Authority and I left a description of the place and my question. A lovely man just rang me to inform me that this is laterite - a naturally occurring rock which has a lot of iron and aluminium oxide in it and the stones weather and oxidise to produce the variety of colours. They are common in tropical and sub tropical climate and are often found where the climate may be humid. Apparently India has a lot of Laterite and makes bricks from it - which I can now recall. 

The little mangrove shoot growing out of the rock and even more extraordinary is the grass !

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Queensland quilters

A curious Cassowary complete with with crown and grass background.

The EKKA is on - the biggest agricultural show in Queensland and I volunteer there every year with great joy and enthusiasm. So much love and effort goes into this show that it is hard not to come away completely singing its praises.This year I have to share the Quilters work - it is just exquisite and the work, the work that goes into each one, is just so meticulous and painstaking.

Look at this one, the forest threatened by the ever closing urbanisation. My choice for the best quilt but it was quite a hard choice. I guess I warmed to its concept. 

The applique work here is just outstanding.

 Look at this little pup - would have him looking at me from anywhere.

One of the many fine examples of the work the quilters have produced. There are so many more to see. Don't miss it.The Ekka is on until the 20th of August and the Quilters are in the Old Museum Building. Go and marvel at their exhibition but take in all the myriad of shows and events that EKKA has to offer as well. The weather is going to be fabulous - Come to Floral Crowns and I will make you a Floral Crown for Free!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Guinea fowl feathers and all

Sitting waiting for the bus an elderly man walks up, I shift over making room for him to sit down and he winks at me. I take one look at him and I am ready to start the conversation. 
In the headband of his fawn coloured cowboy hat he has guinea fowl feathers which I instantly recognise. He wears glasses and sports a big bushy moustache that hides some of his upper lip but as the moustache extends out the edges had clearly been twirled. This is a man with a glint in his eye. Around his neck a red kerchief which matches nicely with his blue shirt. He wears a black leather jacket and leather Aussie boots and a great matching leather belt to his fawn coloured trousers that of course match his hat. He took out a fog watch ( ! ) from his upper pocket to read the time. Oh my, I thought to myself, I must find out about this man so I casually say,

"Well dressed like this you must be heading for the EKKA, the big agricultural show in town which starts tomorrow". 

"Oh he said the last time I was at the EKKA I came by tram and that must have been in 1967!" 

He comes all the way from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales and his name is Reg. He hands me his card and I see an equally fascinating last name and the clue to his get up. He is involved in Opal mining. Lightning Ridge is home to Australia's biggest Black Opal mines. Black Opals are the most precious of the opals and while they come in all different shapes and sizes their inner dark background is unmistakable and makes them very rare and valuable specimens. 




I know these are a poor substitute for Reg - he is much more colourful, but I have his card now and so I will design a trip over to find him in Lighting Ridge. I love my bus stop.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Winter light

Winter seems unwilling to knock on our doors with any conviction this year and while I know that this might not be the best for us, I have loved the balmy warmth of this different sun and its rays which have a gentleness about them. Then a slight chill settles into the evening, when teas are slowly sipped in the shimmering light and soups take centre stage in the dark that descends abruptly.So today's blog is about some of that light and the images around it. 

Watering the garden - such a simple and sublime task and suddenly golden rays appear from the neighbour's as the light of the afternoon fights for a space to enter. 



Then an unexpected visitor - or at least one not so frequently seen on the back deck, coming to  say hi. A kookaburra  shaded against the light but distinct in its outline and its call. 
A reminder to stop for a while, put away those phones, take in the bird calls, as I write the kookaburras in the trees nearby are having a larf, the bats are dotting the twilight sky, and the time has come to rest, while the world folds gently into itself.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Stella in grey cable knit

Those of you who know me will appreciate that I have felt keenly the absence of a dog in my life. However this is not the time for another and so I resort to borrowing the neighbours' dogs to take for walks and patting some I find out and about.


Just this weekend though I had an additional joy. Stella came to stay for one night as her humans were heading off to a party. She came with her bed and blanket and her pyjamas. I kid you not. Her bowl and her dinner and breakfast, all prepared. So I was left with the easy part of remembering what it was like to have a dog in the house. Well it brought me right back to the ground. They remind you that life is not about you - but mostly about them- somehow they are experts at getting us to care enormously about their welfare and their comfort, hence the jammies and the treats and I am sure much else besides. She jumped onto my bed and I found myself reliving the moments when my much larger dog Tara would do the same, and so as not to disturb this blissfully snoring dog I end up on the edge of the bed, practically falling out of it. 

They are there to remind us of what a "no agendas" in life is all about. Yes, no hidden aims, no point scoring, just simple true companionship and love- of the very best kind. Pure and simple and without criticism or fanfare, one that celebrates you just the way you are. I guess we celebrate them back and that is where the grounding comes in. As we set off it is no longer about just me and my petty problems. We make time for taking this all important walk, heading out into the sunshine with them, letting loose in both our body and our thoughts, but knowing we are never alone in that time.We both come back the stronger and the happier for it. We both will eat our dinners with relish!

We had fun and I tried to be a good human -they are good to us so why shouldn't we be ? Their ability to kick start our caring quotient is unparalleled. If they could write this up as a some kind of a business model for the 21st Century they would be laughing all the way to the pet food store.




Friday, 21 July 2017

Robbed I was ...

Yes, I was talking about sharing  in my previous blog and how important it is to make sure there is enough to go round for everyone but in this case I am feeling robbed everyone, robbed.
A couple of months back I walked into my back garden and proudly took a picture of my first bunch of bananas. Here it is in all its glory.
I went to Europe and came back and eagerly skipped down to check the bunch and whether they were ripe enough to cut and this is what I found:

If you look carefully at the top is one small banana still hanging in there - but where are the rest ?? I was devastated that none were left for me and my mind goes to the possums and the bats feasting furiously in my absence. I picked my one and only green banana and kept it lovingly in the fruit bowl till today. It has ripened and was right for eating and I have never tasted a more delicious, sweet but firm finger banana. Oh the pain, the pain. It was over in two mouthfuls but I must not grumble, I must not grumble. Sharing as one little Ozzie boy said ( he must have been all of four) is caring! 


Thursday, 13 July 2017

BAT ART- Orange is the New Black

I was walking in the garden, looking at the expertly peeled mandarin skins lying on the ground and then the black marks by the pool. Then I laughed heartily all by myself - first signs of madness perhaps-or profound jet lag- it struck me that this was the bats' version of Orange is the new Black. The bats, or flying foxes as they are called are currently having their very own Mandarin Festival where they gorge on the fruit from our tree at night and then poop on the tiles. Here was one upside down fella who opened his eyes just as I took the photo. 




It made me think of an art work in Ralph's Garage by Richard Bell that I had recently seen going on a guided ART walk in West End. The artist's work introduced thoughts about indigenous people, dispossession, humans and animals and the pressures on the land. All we can do is share. That is only fair.  Bats enjoy mandarins as much as I do. At times, you surprise even yourself at what things "poop" into your head.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Cyprus' Destiny and those weird working dinners.




The importance of this moment for Cyprus cannot be underestimated. Finally after stops and starts  from last year, there is a Conference taking place in Crans Montana, in Switzerland in which Greece, Turkey and the UK are alongside the Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiating teams trying to solve an intractable problem that has lasted for more than 43 years. As a Cypriot I know that so many people are hanging on every press conference, reportage and event that takes place. The proposals put forward by Turkey, the disappointment expressed by President Anastasiades on important issues concerning guarantees and security, the appearance or not of Junker who is busy elsewhere, and the injection of energy and freshness that Antonio Guterres, please call me Antonio, has added to the mix. 
My question is naive in as much as it is genuine. There are working lunches and dinners, there are short meetings, Boris was there for the opening dinner, then replaced by someone else from the foreign office.  Junker said he was busy but could pop in. Kotzias likes being there and presumably also enjoys the food. I simply cannot see how any work is done, how any progress can be made in these half hearted working bouffes. How can you achieve anything constructive slurping your soup or eating your brioche, how can you have notes of relevance and points of agreement there tucked underneath your napkin. How can you agree or disagree anything critical sipping on wine other than that is a vintage year? So far we have had all too many of these events and then ANOTHER committee formed to look at how settlement will unfold. My wicked temptation would be to say no one eats until the deal is done - and then lets see how fast they would get to a thoroughly digestible outcome.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Welsh Hairbit.

FACT: You need a mortgage to visit Hairdressers in Australia.
FICTION: You often, but mistakenly, believe that the money is well spent.

FACT: You go expecting to look better on exiting, albeit poorer.
FICTION: They don't really care how you look - but often, it is not better.

FACT: Most hairdressing salons are a sanctuary for young people on Work/Study visas in OZ.
FICTION: Some hairdressing salons would like you to believe they are a "cut above the rest", hence the prices they charge. Pun intended.

FACT: In four years of living here I have tried a fair few hairdressers.
FICTION: They each profess to be the ONE. Mainly they are just rubbish.

FACT: I havent found one yet ...until yesterday when I met Nathan.

We started chatting, because that is what you do, but in this case I was intrigued to hear about this Young Welshman and his beautiful tattooed arm. What was more intriguing is the reason why young people do it - the adrenalin rush he suggests, and also his need to be creative, but not in a pen and paper way, so his body art is a way to express that creative spirit. The most shocking revelation is how much it costs -a few hairdressing visits for sure- and finally the spiritual significance of some of the tattoos. It wasn't until he came to Australia that he discovered the band on his arm was Maori and further up his arm was a  tattoo special to Islanders. He was warned they might take offence - something akin perhaps to cultural appropriation- but in fact all the islanders he met were very friendly and OK with his "tats" as they are commonly referred to here.

That was the chat - measured and just what you want - interesting and informative.
I told him what I wanted done to my hair and he LISTENED and did exactly what I wanted.
His shampoo and head massage was so relaxing I could have fallen asleep.
He took care and time in getting it right and it was a pleasure to walk out with bobbing hair.
Trouble is he has missed home and will be gone by the time I return, if I do, for the next appointment. It was a lovely morning Nathan, thanks for looking after me so well - all the best for your future- keep being restless and curious.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Captivating currents and coasts. Kangaroo Island.

They say it is the Australian Galapagos and the seals are certainly part of it. Soon the whales will be swimming by. The koalas balance on the flimsiest of branches, the birds make small fleeting appearances but for me it is the coastline that is the draw card. Beaches of such wild beauty and emptiness. Sand which makes the sea turn green, waves that have such surge in them that they mount the rocks and form inland rivers, rainbows appearing in the crack of grey to signify better weather is on its way. Headlands which catch your breath at formations wind and sea have created. The ruggedness of rocks, remarkable, or not, which sculpt the water's edge. Here is some of the beauty we saw.












Thursday, 1 June 2017

Remarkable Rocks

Literally named so - there is no messing here - what you see is what they are called and they ARE remarkable.








They are situated on a rounded lava rock perched some 200 feet above the ocean. A collection of extraordinary, indeed remarkable granite boulders eroded by wind and sea over a mere 500 million years. The orange lichen, which is as vibrant as the pictures is slowly eating up the rocks as it produces an acid which breaks the rock down into soil. Even so, I would n't worry about missing them. They seem vast, artistic and windswept and they are well worth exploring. There are no boundaries other than that of the roaring waves crashing against the rock, so this is one place to watch  you don't step back too far to take the selfie. 




Monday, 29 May 2017

Kangaroo Island - home to Fur Seals and Sea Lions

We arrived in the twilight. A brushstroke of pink and orange across the sky. Our destination Southern Ocean Lodge. This is a  short journey from the capital of the island Kingscote, across to the southern side, but at this time of night, it took a little longer. Kangaroos and Tammar Wallabies are crepuscular (a favourite word of my son George) meaning they like the twilight and tend to come out to feed at dawn and dusk, so we crept along, playing dodgems with the animals along the way. The lodge is settled in the short shrub land overlooking Hanson Bay (see the low lying buildings on the cliff face)  and all I can say is that the colours and the panorama are most definitely breathtaking. You could easily spend your entire day gazing out at this wonderful vista. 

 

This island which is the third biggest in OZ, is seven times the size of Singapore and roughly the same size as Long Island, NY. There is one person for each square kilometre. In the UK there are 246 people to a square km, so you can understand that sheep, some cows, but mainly, koalas, echidnas,wallabies and kangaroos predominate here and that makes us very happy. 

It was chosen as the first free settlement in the 1800s but what were they thinking ?- it was a logistical nightmare with water in short supply and rough seas to contend with. So Adelaide on the mainland was chosen instead. 

Our wildlife guide asked us if we knew what Kangaroo means - apparently when the first explorers came in contact with aboriginals and pointed to the Kangaroo asking them what it was the aboriginals answered "I dont know or I dont understand you" - but this was taken to mean the name of the animal. This is a bit of a myth and unlikely to be true but it is a nice story nevertheless. 

It was named Kangaroo Island by Mathew Flinders when he came across it in the 1800s and there is a lot on the island which is so literal Oz - Remarkable Rocks - Bay View Road, Grass tree, Yellow bush pea and the incomparably named plant the Snotty Gobble.

The New Zealand Fur Seals are found at Admiralty Arch, a cavern formed naturally by the wind and the southern ocean. They manage the turbulent waters and then climb up in an agile manner, quite surprising for their little flippers and rounded bodies, to greener areas, where they find a sunny spot and sleep like babies. They are smaller and darker than the sea lions, with long whiskers and external ears.


 
 


Further down the coast is Seals Bay which is a sanctuary for the Australian Sea Lion which was so hunted in the 19th Century. Despite being protected now, their numbers are declining and there are only some 15000 left in the wild. The breeding cycle is long- 18 months, and there is quite a high seal pup mortality. These two males have sandwiched a female between them, perhaps in an effort to keep her warm and have fun later on. 

The pups can often be left for three days at a time while the mums head out to sea to catch fish. This makes them quite vulnerable. The mums have to find their own pups through a series of interesting calls once they are back. This pup suckled loudly from its mother's teat while the younger one below obviously missed its mum and found a warm stone to cuddle up to.


My next blog will take us to those originally named Remarkable Rocks also in Flinders Chase ( From the french word Chasse meaning hunting ground ) National Park.