Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Thinking about Sydney

Last night just as the sun was setting I found myself on this beach.

Sunshine Beach

I was just at the petrol station filling the car with fuel and the changing sky kept catching my attention. Instead of just rushing off I decided to take a few minutes and headed down to Sunshine Beach to watch the waves and enjoy the last minutes of daylight.

I parked up, kicked off my Birki's and just walked....

Sunshine Beach

There were a few others on the beach doing just the same thing. Just walking. Just getting a bit lost in their steps and their thinking.

There was quite a bit of thinking happening yesterday.

I started thinking about the school holidays ahead; the anticipation of Christmas; a new year and some changes for my girl.

My mind however kept going back to thoughts about the Sydney hostage situation in Martin Place and the terrifying hours that those trapped were experiencing.

Earlier in the morning I had spoken to Sibs about it as we remembered the last time we were in Sydney and we had lunch in that exact cafe. We talked about the meaning of words such as hostages and radicals. The  kind of conversation that was too close to home for comfort. It followed another conversation about a shooting incident that occurred a few streets away from us last week in leafy suburbia..

Sunshine Beach

I woke this morning to a text from my twelve year old.

She texted me the outcome in Sydney and then how much she loved me with lots and lots of kissey emoticon faces. 

It would have been the first thing that she thought about this morning.

We had another conversation about extremism and probability and safety. 

I told her it was ok to feel unsettled by what had happened. I told her that there are many more good people than bad people in the world.... I told her that she was safe. It's what she needed to hear. 

But I'm saddened that this is reality.

I'm heartbroken that innocent people were involved.

I feel just a little more vulnerable today.

Sunshine Beach

Thinking about all those involved.
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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas memories

Tree is up, sparkly fairy lights in place, Christmas food is starting to creep in to the house...

Yet there are so many things missing...

Christmas in Australia is different. Not necessarily bad different - just different...

Christmas is so inherently linked with childhood that it won't matter how many years I spend here it will never feel quite right.

Christmas to me is about being cold - sometimes wet, but definitely cold. It's all about the anticipation of snow that very rarely actually appeared on the day! Wrapping up in your duffel coat, scarf, hat and gloves and going out in the evenings just to walk past the rows of identical houses with the trees in the front bay windows.

It's about Christmas carols singers huddled at your front door with lanterns or torches collecting for a charity.

It's about warm mince pies...

It's about High Streets with coloured lights hanging from every lampost.

It's about wishing year after year to be Mary in the nativity play and then after being a tinsel wearing angel for ever, the wish comes true!

Christmas is hot chocolates and Irish coffees snuggled under heavy blankets.

It's log fires and warming your cold hands on radiators.

Christmas is about Santas everywhere!

December 2012 in London

For Sibs, Christmas is about days in the swimming pool and the beach.

It's long hot weeks of school holidays.

It's camping trips and ice cream.

Christmas is about cranking up the air conditioning or sitting in front of the fans.

It's shorts, Birkis's and bikinis!

December 2013 in Brisbane

At the heart of it all though, Christmas time for me is also just about memories - and it doesn't really matter what the memories are or where they were made...

the time that 10 year old Sibs replaced our
Christmas Angel with a home made one of Harry Styles!

Each decoration has a story that is re-told as it's placed on the tree.

"Remember the time when we bought this in...."
"Remember when we made this....."

Christmas decorations from our travels

Christmas evokes reflections. 

It's the end of a year wherever you are...

Happy memory making.

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Monday, 1 December 2014

Finding some calm after the storm

It's the first day of December - it's Summer here in Brisbane. (still so, so wrong...!) The purple Jacarandas have all but disappeared and instead we now have the wonderful vibrant Royal Poinciana. They really do look fabulous against the backdrop of the blue Summer sky. 

Royal Poinciana

That blue sky that I quickly snapped on the way home from school drop off this morning was very different last Thursday....

It was about 4.30pm and all of a sudden everything went dark. There was an eerie silence, then the trees outside my office started to sway and within a few minutes the rain started to lash at the windows. Not long after that the hail started. When I say hail I don't mean little pea size balls of ice - I'm talking big! They got as big as golf balls and some people saw some the size of tennis balls! It was the strangest 30 minutes ever.  There was no warning as is usual with Brisbane storms.  We could only stare out of the windows and wonder at the damage that was being caused. Hail that size can make a car looked like it's been sprayed with bullets.  Windows and windscreens were smashed and branches were flying through the air. Water began to pour through the roof of a room and this kicked the evacuation alarms into action. Except no-one really wanted to leave...

Here's a bit of a clip at the start of the storm taken from inside.

Brisbane storm

Thankfully, no one was badly injured and apart from very wet feet and a delay in getting home I was unaffected. Some others weren't quite so lucky and the next morning I was checking in with a neighbour who told me that the roof of the warehouse of her business had blown off and her Summer stock had been damaged. Another work colleague knew someone who had to have stitches in her head due to a large hail stone landing on her. There were also numerous people that I know with trees on cars and damaged property. What destruction in 30 minutes! Mother Nature sure was having a bad day!

As Brisbane was shaken by a storm on Thursday, the whole of Australia (and further afield) was completely moved by the tragic accident and subsequent death of the young cricketer Phillip Hughes. It has dominated conversation this past week. Australians are so passionate about sport and especially cricket. It's very touching to see the cricket bats placed outside homes and buildings in tribute to him. We are not a family of cricketers but I did find the beach bat and as I placed it I had a moment of reflection on the fragility of life. Sibs got an extra long good night cuddle on Thursday.

In tribute to Phillip Hughes

I always need to find something quiet and soothing after an incident or occasion that shakes me a bit. The long bath didn't quite work so I got into my crochet zone over the weekend and managed to finish a baby blanket that will get the boy/girl colour trim added when my cousin decides the time is right to give birth!

comforting crochet

Then to start this week off on a slightly calmer note, I took myself off for 5 minutes just for me. (It was probably closer to 45 minutes, but who's counting?)


This morning I went to re-stock on coffee beans and plonked myself on a comfy sofa with a coffee, some pear and raspberry toast (it's fruit ok!) and got a bit lost with Jane Austen. Funny how you can re-read a book and still absolutely love it.  'Persuasion' is my all time favourite Austen novel. Of course I adore the others, but there is something about 'Persuasion' that intrigues me. Maybe it's the simplicity of the story, maybe it's because it's set in Bath, maybe it's because it's Austen's last novel, written when she was ill? It's all of these things and probably just the fact that it's beautifully written. 

I have introduced my girl to the wonderful world of Austen and we have watched many versions of her books that have been made into films and for TV. Of course, in my opinion to appreciate her true talent then you need to read the books. Sibs started and struggled with Sense & Sensibility (her favourite TV adaptation) so for Christmas last year I found a box set of easy reading Austen novels. 

Each book starts with a brief explanation of the characters, then the novel is presented in a lovely mixture of original and easy to read text. The books end with further notes about the plot; the era and the author and some questions to think about. 

 I bought the box set from Amazon UK and they are published by realreads.co.uk
Real Reads also have a great selection of classic novels and plays.

on my mantlepiece
Wishing everyone a calm week,

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