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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Thursday, 30 March 2017

South Africa's rainbow fauna and flora.

Our time in South Africa was made the more spectacular not only by the wild and rugged coastlines but also by the birds and flowers we saw - we simply came across them driving or walking and it is partly because the Cape Floral Kingdom is so special and is home to so many diverse plants which attract spectacular birds of all sizes. From the diminutive but irridescent honey eater here.

To the most delicately patterned guinea fowl with all its babies
To a turtle just crossing the road - we took it to safety on the other side
To the beautiful blue cranes prancing along in many fields - we saw 25 of this rather rare and beautiful crane and the clumsier but perhaps more flamboyant ostrich.

And finally to the proteas which the birds love and the xerophytic flowers which are so attune to the dry mediterranean climate of the cape.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rainbows in the Ocean.

This was probably my favourite walk - over the beach in Arniston and towards a cave which is a famous landmark in the area. We found the most amazing mother of pearl shells which shimmered in the light, sea anemones, starfish and rocks of such colours and hues, with contrasting rock faces running through them, I could not get enough of photographing them and looking into the pools to see what more the ocean had to offer me.

That is all you need - to look around and take in all that nature has in store, in the water, under rocks, popping out of the sand, in the dark light of caves and in the blinding sun of day.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Pa Pa

Pa Penguins - Lots of them on Boulders Beach near Simons Town.

A beachfull to be precise and the elevated boardwalk allowed us to come up to them but not to disturb them. Some came in from the ocean and went from a slide on their bellies to being upright and then waddling off in their inimitable way. Some seem to feel the wind's sharpness and were curled up together- they mate for life.  Some prospective mums sat on their eggs and played the waiting game while other young ones, were busy discarding their down- like- feathers of their childhood before being allowed into the water. They need to develop their waterproof coating and this takes about 20 days. There was also a pair, he is upright and proud and he goes for his chosen one in what can only be described at a little bit of hanky panky. I felt like a voyeur until I saw a curious penguin who was standing by, as if waiting for the invitation to join in or just enjoying that sexual kick. They were "engaging" in every way. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Just Nuisance- A dog who became a Seaman.

We stopped at Simon's Town a lovely little town on the eastern coast of Cape Point. It is a big naval base and some warships were parked in the harbour. We wandered through the old rather quant arcades and sat at a harbour cafe for brunch and this is where I picked up the loveliest story.

There was once a Great Dane- he lived in this town during the Second World War, born in 1937, and loved to look after the sailors who alighted for a night on the town. He was often found on the the line between Simon's town and Cape town and he was soon given a special tag on his colour which allowed him to use the train at any time. He was such a regular, looking after the sailors that he was enrolled as an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy.

Apparently he too was subject to transgressions - going AWOL, losing his collar, sleeping with the sailors, and indulging in his favourite drink, bottled lager. He was warm and wonderful to all the sailors and there was genuine sadness when eventually due to ill health, he was put down. His funeral was conducted with full naval honours, his body wrapped in a white ensign, and placed in a grave. His headstone remains in the town that was his home. 

Friday, 17 March 2017

South Africa - Capturing the Capes

Capes of Hope and Capes of Needles. They have been points of extreme joy and abject devastation. Today we are drawn to them, as if by some magnetic force, but from the perfect safety of the land. The shipwrecks suffered have mostly disappeared but as I stand on the Capes I cant help but think about the treacherous conditions which those sailors and all their passengers faced on the stormy and disobedient seas, lives and loves lost in an instant. I breathe in the fresh air and look out. The ocean rolls on, unperturbed by any of its cruel takings.We can offer respect to it while enjoying the saltiness thrown up into our faces as a stark reminder of not taking it lightly. 

The Cape of Good Hope was named the Cape of Storms by Bartolomeu Dias when he found it for good reason. Its second name of Good Hope resonated the immense feeling of relief and optimism felt by sailors who knew that in rounding that point they could travel up eastward towards India which was so important to trade at the time. Today it lies on the Atlantic side of the tip and is windswept and stormy inhabited by friendly hyrax and many many tourists.

Cape Point is  a national reserve and the area leading down to the Cape of Good Hope and it is beautiful to explore but more of that in my next blog. A lot of people think that the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost tip of Africa but of course that prize goes to Cape Agulhas also known as the Cape of Needles. This is southeast of Cape Town in the Overberg area and it was named the Cape of Needles after the Portuguese navigators noticed that the direction of magnetic north- the needle- coincided with the true north. This is also the southern most point in Africa. 
This area is flatter and less dramatic but no less treacherous and it is said that some 150 ships were shipwrecked off this coast. A lighthouse now stands and is constantly on to alert the passing ships to the dangers. 

So we left the turbulent seas and headed to some of the picturesque towns and felt land safe if not wildly wind swept.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Table Mountain

Table Mountain reminded us today who is boss. This mountain doesn’t like to be ignored or taken lightly. The wind buffeted the city of Cape Town to the point where a cycle race which had been planned this weekend had to be cancelled. The bikers were shifted along, effortlessly by huge gusts of wind, which whistled through buildings and crevices. Table Mountain is one of the oldest mountains on earth, six times older than the Himalayas and five times older than the Rockies.  

The clouds rolled over the mountain top like a frothy macchiato. No takers though to spoon it off the top. So the day was spent in the friendly vineyards of the Fransschoek tasting the lovely pinots and the chardonnays. Lunch was under a familiar vine. I felt right at home.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Remember 10 mins from this ...

I was on a walk- run, the weather is getting kinder, and I saw it in a little stream.

White, proud with a little white crest, two legs like liquorice sticks, feet which could be black stars and a glint of yellow in its eye, but best of all its kitchen implement- shoveler helping him eat.

No iphone to capture the moment, just memory and eyesight.

What is it ?

A royal Spoonbill 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Uncovering Newcastle architecture

This is my last blog about Newcastle and fittingly on International Women's Day.This is what we think about housework - but we all love living in beautiful, character full homes and here are some of Newcastle's finer ones. Its a record really. The government is planning some not very nice things for the city and these may be lost in the process. 

Lets hope their plans for massive sky scrapers and V8 drag racers though the city get swept firmly under the carpet and stay there. 

Thursday, 2 March 2017

City Life in Newcastle

Its heart is surprisingly small - there is a suburban sprawl but I confined myself to the the old historic city. The one that had convicts build the breakwater to allow easy access to the harbour,  the one that provided the Ocean Baths for its citizens,  the one that placed Fort Scratchley right at the top of the hill, as a lookout for enemies, the one which built an iconic Customs House and prided itself on its warehouses, now beautifully converted into the town's Museum and the waterfront with its new apartment buildings and shops.

Walking around the city I came across some lovely insights. The Museum is a great collection of Newcastle history complete with showcases of what it is famous for, Cedar products, Arnotts biscuits, glass ware, pottery and its dairy Industry and of course coal and iron ore. As a result of the rising need for workers, families flocked to the area. I will mention one story which is so relevant to our times. His name was Saad Abikhair and he arrived from Syria in 1895. He and others were immigrants trying to eek out a living by hawking small wares from house to house. Finally in 1928 he set up an Emporium which became very popular with all the locals.A new way of shopping had arrived in Australia, a big department store which sold everything a housewife of those days could ever wish for and the one I liked best was this poster.

The Emporium shut its doors in 1996 and the building has changed hands several times but more recently its doors have been thrown open to artisans and craft people, who pay a very low rent to occupy small parts of the building in return for a 30 day notice period to quit, if needed. I walked around and met some lovely women who told me how in 2008 the main part of the city was largely derelict, the big Employer BHP had gone by then, taking with it 11000 jobs and people were scared to walk the streets. "Renew Newcastle" was a movement which breathed life back into the central part of the city and now collectives are springing up with interesting start ups, business ventures, lovely cafes and restaurants.

One of the women recommended a small coffee shop run by a couple of Umbrian women called "Umbria" so off I went to find it and had the most delicious cup of coffee and a canoli to die for. I chatted to one of the women, finding out about what made them start the coffee shop. Their parents had come over in the 50s. The mother was an excellent cook but had passed away. For years she dreamed of having a small coffee shop serving all her mum's delicious cakes. "Sometimes" she laughed "there are more family members then customers in here but it is early days yet and business will pick up." 

Other places served Books and Coffee = a perfect combo. 

We ate at the some fabulous restaurants like "Paymasters" lovingly restored,  and "Supper Lane" and really enjoyed our conversations with the owners and other guests. 
Supper Lane is a great little restaurant with a fabulous cheese selection but even better was the appearance of St John Commandaria, on the menu, a Crusader fortified wine all the way from Cyprus, which floored me completely. A glass of it was fabulous with the cheese.

 The coloured tiles on the wall showing  irises in their splendour. 

In the Museum there was a painting by Virgil Lo Sciavo 1953 - love the name as well - and here it is - at that time it was showing the changing face of Newcastle from a city concentrated on cedar and wool to one of coal export, iron ore and steel making.

I wonder what an artist would make of Newcastle in the 21st Century ?