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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, 31 December 2017

Ending the year in the Green.

We talked about goals achieved, horrors faced, expectations met, and those that slipped through the net. We spoke of hopes for the future, plans and life changes, even muddling along. We felt that 2017 was a slight, but only slight improvement on 2016, and that we were looking to 2018 for funner, happier times, not just for us, (and we have one or two special events in store) but for the world. And what better place to welcome the New Year then overlooking the incredible vistas that Australia gives us, close to nature and on top of the granite boulders it threw up a long, long time ago. Happy New Year Everyone - may it be better, fairer, happier all round, for each and everyone, but also for all peoples on our one and only still amazingly green planet. 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Xmas 2017 - 2018

This Xmas will be remembered for our boys joining us here in Australia and for us nearly completing all the formalities to become Australian citizens. Its been an incredible five years and one which, if you had asked me in Delhi Xmas 2012 - 2013 where we could have ended up, believe me Australia was not even on the list. The five years have gone by so fast and yet I still feel there is so much more of this beautiful country to see and experience.

We celebrated with a Xmas party for some friends and neighbours and it is so much because of them that I know we have made the right decision to spend a few more years here. People who are open, unpretentious, warm and generous to a fault. People able to share a good laugh and a beer. A country that has rules admittedly, ( we were a little surprised ) but we are happy for the most part to go along with them, strange as some of them may be. The Queensland we live in still has some of its old country town habits and I love them, being friendly, talking to strangers, thanking the bus driver for every journey he does for us.

My Aussie cup cake wonder made by my good friend Robyn Jaques. 

The birds and the wildlife have kept us fascinated and learning so much about them and their habitats. The city grows nearby and offers cutting edge art and theatre to rival any capital. The language continues to amaze us and we hear even shorter words every day. The Australian continent has a lot to offer and we are privileged to be able to be a part of it. So to prove I am capable of the linguo here is my go at Ausspeke. 

This ARVO passed by the SERVO on my way to the BOTTLE-O.Thought I would join the RELOS for some MUSO over a PARMO, for DEFO, rather than a FISHO. But realized my REGO was overdue, so I decided to take the LOCO to HAMO and get there that way, as I don’t want to give any JOURNOS or any AMBOS cause for concern. Got there and found a PAV and got some BUGS and put them in an ESKY to take home to the family otherwise they would be DEVO. Felt like a DRONGO for forgetting my THONGS, but TOO EASY MATE to get more. So G'DAY to you all and Happy KRIMBO and I am STOKED to be nearly AUSSIE. 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Tiger mums tots and treats

For those of you who read Tiger Mum this photo of children performing at Hong Kong airport may bring back some thoughts of the book, tactics, parenting pride and pressure not necessarily in that order. They were kinda cute.

There is so much emphasis on achieving and spending a day with a delightful young civil servant I was able to fully appreciate why. She was one of 20,000 applicants for a civil service job. They took 32 applicants and she was one of them. She commutes on a busy underground from the New Territories. The idea that she could ever own her own flat is almost a pie in the sky, and if she does it will be like a little floating cloud. Massive sky scrapers with tiny apartments where the land value is among the highest in the world. She is on a rotating training programme which enables her to become familiar with policy and process and takes it all very seriously. She considers herself to be extremely lucky but I said I was luckier as she was showing me around. She  introduced me to Abalone, and for those of you not familiar with this mollusc, it is considered to be a very great delicacy here. It seemed to be a bit like a chewy mushroom and perhaps you need to appreciate it from a young age as well as some of the other rather odd items that are sold - gift wrapped and ready to go to a good home. 

 A gift box of Abalone and below some delightful sea cucumbers. 

Some sea horses but do they eat them I wonder?

I think the nicest nugget I heard from her was when I asked her what was happening at the temple I had visited the day before where I saw people coming in with offerings. She said in HK people go to the temple and pray to the god for something specific - a job, a cure etc- if their wish is fulfilled they visit the temple again with an offering. Pay back. I loved the idea that you only had to pay back if the God did his job. Surely there is a PHD in there somewhere to investigate the success rates of these Gods. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Bonkers for Honkers

Approaching Australian Citizenship as I am, it is perhaps right that I start expressing myself sometimes in Oz speak so this blog is entitled "Bonkers for Honkers" the Australian name for Hong Kong. Why it is called Honkers I havent really been able to find out but we all know it is something to do with saying one word instead of two right ? 

Hong Kong is such a mish mash of its history, culture and development. Though 20 years have gone by since it was given back there are plenty of signs that some of that Britishness still lingers. The waterfront was awash with yorkshire puddings and draught beer, cricket on the big screen, loads of expat bankers and businessmen having a pint and either celebrating or commiserating the scores, and all around those unmistakable little signature items that are so familiar to a lot of us. 

Poinsettias grace every pot available and the Xmas Decorations are bold and occasionally brash. It is the first time I have ever come across a black and white Xmas tree. Just cant get my head around the colour scheme at all.

At the same time its laneways are full of small market stalls selling everything and anything and corner restaurants offer steaming dim sums and some stranger items like braised chicken feet or even one item I saw written as chicken intestives, which I suspect were intestines. Gizzards, offal and tripe feature happily alongside the more recognisable and delicious dishes. 

When they have some time to stop their frenetic life style  some of the HongKongese, may pop into a temple. We visited the Pak Thai Temple, which is one of the oldest temples in HK, built by residents in 1863 to honour Pak Thai the Taoist god of the sea. It is now Heritage Listed. We were immediately taken in by the incense burning, the tall statues of the gods, the ancestor worship and the offerings. 
There was chanting and smoke and and the occasional banging of the gong, its reverberations unfolding and meeting the incense smoke as it left the temple. 

Its many facets make Hong Kong appealing and exciting and some people might be bonkers for Honkers but Brissie's blue skies are what send me X static.

Friday, 15 December 2017

"Spot the Tourist"

Our trip to Hong Kong comes in a busy month so there wasn't much time for planning. Packing late one night we both went on instinct.  HK is usually hot and humid so I packed skimpy tops and summer dresses. Hubby wasn't sure he even packed his suit trousers so the state of unpreparedness was marked. We landed in a misty HK with cool temperatures and everyone wandering around in their boots, parkas and Burberry scarfs. We walked out this morning in flip flops and T-shirts and fulfilled the role of "Spot the Tourist" ably!

Best discovery of the day an Art Exhibition on the water front called On Sharks and Humanity- Artists in Action. Here are some of their impressive exhibits and the small message on the base of each art work says it all.

Given our state of unpreparedness, (some friends would be horrified) we then decided to jump on the beautiful working trams and travelled up and down the city enjoying vistas - old buildings next to new ones, amazing architecture and the throngs of people everywhere. 

In front of one of Hong Kong's most treasured heritage building, which originally housed the Legislative Council and is now the Court of Final Appeal we saw this rather unusual sight. An attempt perhaps to distract the crusty Judges having to determine the fate of the Lucky Fortune Company listed before them?  storey neo-classical building is supported by ionic columns. Its most outs

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Nature's embraces

This time last year I was walking the streets of South Ken and North London and admiring the many beautiful Christmas wreaths on the doors. This year I am walking the streets of Paddington and Red Hill in Queensland and find nature embracing front doors, gates and fences unaided, uninhibited and unrestrained. It just wants to take over, come in and embellish what is there, splashed across the front, or coming over the top as a surprise.  Keeping people out or letting nature in I ask myself...

Friday, 8 December 2017


In the spirit of Marina's Critters here is the latest - his name is Craig the Crow and for some time now he has been watching us from the branches of an enormous Norfolk pine we can see in the distance. 
We feed the Butcher Birds who sing so sweetly to us and I guess this crow thought it was about time to get in on the act. It took me a while to cotton on. He was visiting and deposting dried bread or even pellets of cat or dog food in the water container on the bird feeder. They are clever enough you see to soak them, and soften them,  and then pull bits off with their strong beak. So I put out a little extra one day and now he is a regular visitor together with the King Parrot who of course is a sunflower fiend. 

As for this Butcher Bird who flew in, was it a case of Bird in the hand or in the Bag ?

Friday, 24 November 2017

PMs and their Nicknames

Did I mentioned I enjoyed the Museum of Democracy in Canberra ? Well I loved it actually and here is one more reason why. Then I promise I will stop raving about it.

In a room in the Old Parliament Building there was a whole section devoted to the Prime Ministers of Australia.Lots of standard facts, where they were born, when they were PMs, which party they belong to, what they were most famous or infamous for and what happened to them...

The little note that really tickled me was one saying NICKNAMES. - The Prime Ministers of Australia, in true Aussie style do not take themselves that seriously and are happy to be known, and the people are comfortable calling them by their nicknames.

Here is s smattering of what I mean:

Gough Whitlam - The Young Brolga.

Sir William McMahon - Billy the Leak.

John Grayton- Jolly John.

Sir John McEwen - Black Jack.

Sir Robert Menzies - Pig Iron Bob, Ming.

Arthur Fadden - Artie.

Joseph Aloysius Lyons - Honest Joe.

William Morris Hughes - The Little Digger.

Sir George Houston Reid - Yes - No Reid.

Alfred Deakin- Affable Alfred

And the best of all for the First PM of Australia Sir Edmund Barton - Toby Tosspot.

You gotta give it to them, they have life the right side up even if they are down under. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

An Inviting Democracy.

I spent many hours in the Museum of Australian Democracy. NO, I am not looking at ways of becoming a member, more fascinated by the excellent work they have done at presenting their democracy to us all and making it memorable, clever, noteworthy and amusing. 

Lets start with just the basics - have you ever been actively encouraged to walk into Houses of Parliament ? I don't hear many of you shouting out yes. I certainly haven't, yet the Houses of Parliament in Canberra, both the old and the new, were built with exactly this overreaching principle of being accessible to the people. So not loud or ostentatious, not built on hills so they would be looking down at people, not closed off and barricaded, full of natural light and colours of Australia, built to blend in with nature and use nature, built to enhance people's understanding of these places. This is where their chosen representatives can sit and pass legislation while looking at the colours of the Australian bush and have a direct vantage point to the War Memorial, lest those persons need to be reminded of the sacrifices so many made. 

So I guess that was the starting point and one which had me sold already. I walked into the old Parliament which is a low lying white building with beautiful wooden floors and chambers. I heard about the Mace and the speakers boxes which were actually produced for a film and then gifted to Parliament. I walked through to the PMs offices and the cabinet room, the party room, and the staff room where the cardigans of the secretaries had been left on the backs of chairs and the bins full of crumpled typed papers, their old typewriters at the ready.

I came across the Finders Keepers exhibition where the Museum had collected various items and through them told the stories of the MPs, who owned them. Neville Bonner the first Aboriginal Federal Parliamentarian who represented Queensland between 1971 and 1983. I watched his recording of when he won the election and what it meant for him, his father and his people. He served them well in his swathe of hair and his debonair suits with matching handkerchiefs. Items of his personal life being displayed with care and attention. 

For Tim Fischer who knew he was not "the right kind" to be a leader of the National Party, he used his ties as markers and he thanked them for the uplift they gave him, for the encouragement they strangely offered him. Here are some of them and an even stranger reflection of him in one. 

For Kay Paterson, a Victorian Liberal Senator it was a single gift which made her then collect her memorabilia whether in the form of tea cups with Parliament etched on, or salt and pepper shakers. She has given her collection to Finders Keepers to be displayed for the public.

Moving round, I came across another fascinating exhibition - this one was entitled ONE TO EIGHT.
A contemporary art project by Alison Adler who became interested in the first eight Prime Ministers and not just for what they were known for nor the perceived wisdom at the time. She drew each one as a person and affixed prints, cartoons, badges or even rosettes which were relevant in their times to connect them to those times. That way she could see the political nuances and respond to the person, not to the politics of the time. Encouraging those viewing it to to think again and see things more analytically. And she asks "Where are all the women?" Those strong and intelligent women who supported their husbands in their work, she now cheekily puts their images, (those that she found anyway,) on wallpaper which covered the whole room. Perceptive by the artist of her subject matters, instructive of the women relegated to the background but nevertheless playing an important part, playful in the colours and the patterns she chose to use. I look forward to returning to another exhibition where another Eight Prime Ministers will be women filling the portraits themselves. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

The War Memorial in Canberra. 11/11/2017

In conversation sometimes I talk about the war. People look at me a little perplexed as I am too young to have been in them but of course for me it is 1974 in Cyprus when lives were lost. Most of us will never experience or have the misfortune to live through one, but a lot of our families, parents or grandparents did, and it so easy in this time of relative peace and prosperity to forget what immense sacrifices they made. The War Memorial in Canberra is a moving and beautiful reminder of these sacrifices but also serves to remind us how important it is to have peace and understanding between peoples above all else. Particularly now when leaders seem so throw- away with belligerent remarks.

We visited in the late afternoon as is fitting.The memorial is built in the shape of a Byzantine cross in a grey stone with a memorial reflective pool and the eternal flame. As you come in further you enter the Shrine and the Tomb to the Unknown Australian soldier.

On either side Galleries where in brass you see the names of 66,000 men who died in the First World War and on the other side those who lost their lives in the Second World War and subsequent wars.
The line of names decorated with simple poppies in the margins is at once warming for the love of those who place them there and chilling because the wall of names stretches on and on.

Every day of the year, except Christmas day, the ceremony of the Last Post takes place here.  The ceremony begins with the National Anthem. A piper plays Flowers of the Forest and then a member of the Armed forces reads the story of one of the soldiers. Each day it is someone else. There are 102,815 names on the Roll of Honour. Where possible their photo is displayed and members of their family might be present to lay a wreath by the memorial pool. The Officer goes up the steps and recites the Ode and the bugler plays the Last Post. Finally the doors of the Shrine are closed for the day. It is a truly moving ceremony and every day of the year the War Memorial has visitors who come to pay their own personal tribute.

The gardens are full of interesting sculptures and dedications - the one which caught my eye and of course my heart was the one to the animals who fight in the war. These are the dogs who are trained to detect explosives and this is the touching tribute to them.

A boulevard known as the The Anzac Avenue has a clear path leading down to Burley Griffin Lake but also beyond to Parliament. Purposely I think, so that those in government can look out of the window and see the War Memorial and think twice before committing any other Australians to war.

Today at Anzac Avenue and the War Memorial there will be a  service and a minute's silence to honour the soldiers who lost their lives, and indeed all those who gave their life to their country.