Monday, 27 August 2018

A Night at the Local Show

Arriving just as the sun was going down, rugged up in our layers to keep out the Winter  cold, we enjoyed a night-time visit to our little local show in the valley.

Colourful, wide-mouthed clowns.

Sparkly balloons.

Side show alley rides.

Given the chill in the air, we soon made our way to the big bonfire, burning up the leftovers from the woodchopping competition earlier in the day. The heat from those crackling, golden flames was toasty warm and so we found a spot nearby for our barbecue tea. While we ate our burgers and sausages-on-bread, drips of tomato sauce on our chins, we joined in with the beat of the bush band playing their toe-tapping, sing-a-long tunes.

The Bush Band playing one of their upbeat songs.

I only had a moment to dash in to the pavilion, where I usually while away much of my show day, before it closed for the night and while hubby and son sourced dinner.  I wish I'd had more time as I love seeing what people are growing and baking and making!

Beautiful roses like this one. 

 Delicious cakes and biscuits and slices...
(I remember making this when I was a girl!)

Lots of jam and lots of ribbons!

 Juicy oranges for judging.

Pikelets ... of course!

After our dinner was done, it was around and around on the ferris wheel to look out over the showgrounds, lit up by the colourful lights of side-show alley.  

Around it goes!

Looking down from the top!

After our whirl through the sky, we joined with many others to await the fireworks. After a countdown from ten to an enthusiastic "Zero!" from all the children in the crowd,  those first fireworks whizzed up and into the sky. Popping and crackling and fizzing, they burst into showers of sparkles that lit up the dark sky of the valley.

Bursts of colourful sparkles.

A stroll around sideshow alley, a few whirling rides and an ice-cream (it seems our boy can eat ice-cream no matter the weather) later, we were back in the car and heading for the warmth of  home. While our night-time visit to the show cut short our time compared to other years, we still found much we enjoyed. 

Our little local show is something we look forward to, as a family, every single year. That's a tradition that I hope continues for many a year yet. 


Friday, 24 August 2018

A Posy of Nasturtiums

As I wandered along a little local street, the subtle fragrance of a familiar flower reached me on the breeze. At first, I couldn't quite place that delicate scent but then I saw masses and masses of brilliantly coloured nasturtiums. Spilling out from a garden bed, trailing down an embankment and covering part of a grassy 'footpath' with garlands of their flowers.  As there were so many, I picked a little posy and brought home some of their orange, yellow and red happiness to place upon our table.

A little posy of nasturtiums.

Such vibrant colours! 

Nasturtium in Latin means "nose twist"!

I haven't grown nasturtiums sucessfully but now I am wondering why ever not? They seemed to be thriving in the little street just a few over from ours. They would not only make me happy every time I saw them, the bees would be beside themselves too. There were many bees foraging among the nasturtiums I found, buzzing with abandon. I wonder if native bees like ours love them too?

The other thing about nasturtiums is that they are edible, their vibrant petals but also their leaves. I shared a slice of a quiche once, flavoured with peppery nasturtium leaves from the very garden where we ate, and it was delicious. I have read too, at the link above, that you can pickle the seeds and use them like capers. Clarissa, over at Simply by the Beach, posted a list of twenty good reasons to grow nasturtiums.  I think I've talked myself into it ... a niche for growing nasturtiums needs to be found!

It would be lovely to wander out and pick nasturtiums from our own garden. There'd be flowers for the table, food from the garden and their subtle scent wafting along on the breeze.


p.s. Finding these little flowers reminded me that I have a little stitching of nasturiums that I did years ago. It was to be part of a quilt I never got anywhere near finishing but I've since used many of the flowery embroidered squares to make re-purposed bags like this one. Perhaps I will make one of these little bags over the weekend ... a gift for the gardener in the little street just over from ours who grows nasturtiums!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Australian National Botanic Gardens

The national Botanic Gardens in Canberra are dedicated to our amazingly diverse native plants. Iconic, towering gum trees with their beautiful barks. A rainforest gully all shady, cool and green. Clusters of spiky shrubs where little birds play hide and seek among the leaves and sip nectar from the blossoms. Drifts of wildflowers that burst into colour and look so spectacular  against a deep blue sky ...

A very pretty Pimelea.

The ancient & fascinating Wollemi Pine.

The beautiful  bark of just one Eucalypt species.

 A Thorny Devil sculpture for a hot, dry desert garden.

The golden 'candles' of a Banksia.

The papery flowers of an everlasting daisy.

Trickling water near the rainforest gully.

Two little Eastern Yellow Robins!

An Eastern Spinebill too!

Clumps that form giant 'grassy-heads'.
(I'm sure there are faces hiding under all that hair!)

We wandered the paths of these gorgeous gardens for just a couple of hours but I could've spent all day meeting more and more of our beautiful native plants. So much variety and texture and colour. I will be keeping an eye out for a few that I can plant here at our place.


Friday, 17 August 2018

Beautiful Batemans Bay

On a cold but sunny Winter's day, we drove east from Canberra, to explore a little of the south coast. Two hours on and we found ourselves in beautiful Batemans Bay. Rugged up in our keep-out-the-cold jackets, jeans, socks and boots we found a quiet beach and walked from there over the shoreline rocks, discovering one tiny bay after another.  

Sunlight on the water.

Cloud cover momentarily hides the sun.

 A 'stream' of white quartz.

 A distinct feature of the rocks.

One such little bay, its shoreline edged with sea-rounded pebbles, was so serene and still. The only sound, when our feet weren't crunching over them, was the  'hush' of those pebbles as the water gently rose and fell over them. I could have sat there and listened to that sound for hours!

 Tiny bay edged with pebbles.

A sea-weathered trunk.

Rock pools edged in pink and filled with seaweeds.

 Seaweed strands of pale green 'beads'.

 Sunlight sparkles on a calm water beach.

We shed our jackets and our boots eventually, the warmth from the sun and the walk itself making its way through our layers.  We even dipped a toe or three into the clear and icy water.  Couldn't resist! There is something about the sea ... 

Have a lovely weekend wherever you may go exploring!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

For Every Poppy Flower

There's a lot I could write about the Australian War Memorial. The building itself with its beautiful dome, the history of the wars that it tells, the artefacts and the stories behind them ... but, for me, it was the brilliant red columns of poppies, an en masse tribute adorning name after name on the commemorative Roll of Honour, that left me still inside. There are over 102,800 names on the bronze panels that record the names of Australians who have died in war and on operational service. Every name and every single one of those little poppies represents somebody's life...

Name after name after name cover the walls under the arches of the War Memorial's Commemorative Area. They lead you to the tomb of Australia's Unknown Soldier.  Inside, under that magnificent dome,  you will find no names but a sombre quietness in respect to all those who lost their lives to war. 

The Commemorative Area's arches.

The golden mosaic on the dome's ceiling.

In the late of every afternoon, the Last Post ceremony is held in the Commemorative Area. We stood, as the cold deepened and dusk crept in, while our national anthem was played, as wreaths of flowers were laid on the edge of the Pool of Reflection, and while the story of just one of those brave soldiers, whose name is there among so very many others on that honour roll, was told. The silence was broken by the haunting sound of the bagpipes carrying The Pipers Lament, the solemn voice of a soldier reciting The Ode and the lonely call of a bugle signalled the end of the day and the end of so many lives as the The Last Post rang out, up and into a darkening sky.

 The Pool of Reflection.

The Eternal Flame

As we spoke of it later, a visit to the Australian War Memorial is not something enjoyable. It is not that kind of place. It is a place that holds a collective memory. That, I think, is its purpose. To help us to remember, to ensure we do not forget and to be ever mindful of the sacrifices which paid for our own freedom.  As you enter and leave the War Memorial, words from our anthem greet and farewell you ... for we are young and free ... 


Sunday, 12 August 2018

Canberra without a Great Camera

Have you noticed that things have a tendency of happening in quick successions of three? This was certainly the case at our place just before we left to visit our capital city. First the dishwasher flooded the kitchen floor and could not be repaired. What a mess! Then, the water filter sprang a leak as well.  More mess! And then, to add insult to injury, my mobile phone could not be charged no matter how many different charging cords or outlets we plugged it into. We opted to send my phone in for repair rather than buying a new one but this meant its camera went with it. Less landfill! I was given a replacement phone to use but the camera was not fantastic and so I've ended up with more blurry photos than usual. Here are some of the better ones:

New Parliament House
(On the one day when there was no wind to lift & flutter the flag.)

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy
(Established in 1972.)

Old Parliament House
(Now a political museum.)

Canberra's iconic Lake Burley Griffin.
(Kings Avenue Bridge.)

The lake is such a prominent feature of the city.
(View from atop Mt. Ainslie.)

(55 bronze bells play the most beautiful music.)

 Telstra Tower

 A single deciduous tree.

Many Winter-bare trees.

Australian War Memorial 
(The dome of the Hall of Memory.)

 Inside the Australian War Memorial.
(The Roll of Honour extends the length of each side, under the arches.)

A colourful entrance at the National Museum of Australia.

National Library of Australia.
(My kind of heaven!)

 Fountains outside the National Library.

Suspended ball outside the National Gallery of Australia.

Flags of the Commonwealth flutter in the wind.

Australian flag flying atop Parliament House at sunset.
(View from our apartment.)

While the photos turned out to be a tad disappointing, our trip to Canberra was not. It was very easy to navigate and travel around this planned city, to stroll around the shores of its lake, to glimpse the sky through the bare branches of so many deciduous trees and to visit cultural centres which tell of our collective story and experience. It seemed to us, that wherever we were in the capital, a view opened up towards the towering spire of the new Parliament House with the Australian flag fluttering robustly in the cold Winter wind.