30 September 2013

"Stopping over" is new to us

Our final night in Australia was restless. Very restless. We climbed into bed at midnight and I woke at 4am after a night during which my mind refused to let several worries go. Stuart sensed I was awake so we got up and boiled the jug for a cup of tea. At least we will be slightly less jet lagged at the other end...but that won't help us today! One of the worries was leaving mum and dad. It took a conversation with Stuart for me to accept that this issue only exists because I think I have to wait to accrue annual leave! I have to get my head around the "time freedom" that not working now brings to me. The other worry was the thought that a 30 hour continuous journey loomed ahead of us. I cannot adjust to the concept of "stopover". In every one of our previous personal and business trips we have never "stopped over"! This time we have a 9 hour flight to Hong Kong where we stay for 2 nights! "Easy peasy" as they say...


Everlasting daisies, outback windmills and suitcases

On my last day in Australia (today), my mum and dad took me to two parks in Toowoomba so that I could appreciate the beauty of a Queensland high country Spring for the last time. First, we went to Laurel Bank Park, then to Queens Park. Symbols of Australia that I found during my wanderings included an everlasting daisy and a collection of windmills at the Cobb & Co museum. Later, my selfless parents drove me 2 hours to Brisbane where lined up suitcases reminded me of the windmills...there are certain similarities of a weird artistic and poetic kind. I have just said goodbye to mum and dad who have to drive another 2 hours back to Toowoomba. I feel dazed and shocked and I am not sure if I really understand the magnitude of the recent and next changes in my life..



28 September 2013

The tradition of tea

Is there anything more beautiful and timeless than the tea ceremony? I think not. At the annual Toowoomba Flower Festival, the Anglican church gathers a collection of treasures associated with tea and displays them in their church hall for the duration of the festival. It's called the Teapot Festival and I was lucky enough to visit it today. On arrival I found colourful tea towels suspended from the ceiling and shelves and display cabinets full of carefully selected and placed teapots, cups, saucers and cake plates. Some collections were elegantly antiquated while others were playfully themed and still others were bright moderns. All of the collections were placed on similarly themed tablecloths or backdrops and the cafe room off to one side of the hall contained tables with teapot themed tablecloths draped over them and walls covered in aprons! I took several photographs of the well presented displays with a view to transferring them to canvas at Canelli...



24 September 2013

More floral joy

...so then I returned to Toowoomba where I arrived just in time for their annual Spring flower festival! This week, I have spent many more long and wonderful hours strolling through parks and prize winning locations, taking note of the height of flowers so that I might be able to replicate the effort in some small way back home. This morning, we made a trip down the range to a small historical railway station called Spring Bluff. While there, we were lucky enough to see some action on the rails too: an empty train returning from the port of Brisbane where it had off loaded grain, another one on its way to the same port with a load of coal and a passenger train full of railway lovers on an excursion to the pretty station.


21 September 2013

What joy the flowers bring

I did something today that very much put me in a frame of mind to return to Canelli. My sister took me to Floriade, Canberra's annual Spring flower show. Unfortunately, I will have to get through a European winter first before I can sow and reap!



19 September 2013

News report

Aunty Da (me) is in Canberra with sole frightening responsibility for one of her nephews. Scary stuff, made even scarier by a "squashed nephew finger" mishap today. Despite this setback, the neglectful 48 year old aunt did find time to behave like her 6 year old nephews and "play" on the acorns at the arboretum. Sadly, the aunt suffered some bruising on her knees during the excursion, got stuck in several positions that required awkward untangling of inflexible appendages and failed to complete the challenging slippery slide at the end.

Footnote: This photo shows the aunt's sister, who was able to climb the acorns on her feet and therefore suffered no bruising. A photo of the aunt is unavailable (thank goodness!)...


14 September 2013

Apple pie with family

Well, what a lovely Saturday we had today, the final day of our camping experience. The family from Toowoomba came to visit. We met them at Suttons Juice and Cider Factory where we enjoyed rather large pieces of Sutton's famous apple pie (each pie contains 25 apples!). Then we returned to camp for a BBQ lunch of egg, bacon and sausage sangas. In the afternoon we went to our inlaws home just outside Stanthorpe where we had homemade scones with jam and cream and I was inspired to purchase a cross stitch pattern. At dusk, we returned to camp again to have a cup of tea, stare into our campfire and watch the night close in.



13 September 2013

Glory without the pain

The nights have been cold on the shore of the dam where our campsite is. One night was 3 degrees which is shocking for Queenslanders but perhaps not so shocking for 2 people who spent a winter in a stone house in Italy and could only raise the inside temperature to 13 degrees. Then, we escaped to our electric blankets. Here, we slot ourselves into our duck down sleeping bags which actually do the same thing! Last night promised a wild storm, with rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening. But it moved around us so in the end we had a glorious display of nature's volatility without any of the pain. Many of you know that we will soon return to our life of simplicity. This camping experience has paved the way. I have been constantly reminded of our simple needs for water, food and shelter every time I plan a meal, close the tent up at night or collect kindling for our campfire.



11 September 2013

Twisted trunks under cover of red

Today we drove north of Stanthorpe along the Armistice Way. There are several local drives in the area and this one focuses on fruit growing. We spent far too long at a liqueur cellar door which had us tasting various alcoholic potions before 10am! Then we moved on to a cheese factory where we had lunch (a beetroot and haloumi fritter stack with balsamic glaze). Mmm...delicious...and certainly something that I will try at home! On our way back to camp, we drove past a covered orchard which simply cried out to be photographed...



Little cottage of craft

We visited Wallangarra today, a little town on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. Like all Australian country towns this one had a craft cottage. But this one is the prettiest I've ever seen!




You know you're in an area that attracts itinerant fruit pickers when you see a sign like this at the local camping ground!



02 September 2013

Digging deep

Despite today's feelings of freedom, we have paused many times to think of the precious people of PNG. At our official departure afternoon tea last week, my team leader gave a speech about the special things she will remember most about us. I have already mentioned this on a previous post but I mention it here agin because of what it tells us about the people of PNG. Of all the things I have done for them, she thanked me for teaching them how to use the calendar facility in MS Outlook. Yes, something that the rest of the world takes for granted had been the biggest learning for her. This confounds me. Had previous bosses really not taken the time to understand what they knew and to develop them? I guess I will never know the answer to that question...and I don't really need to know he answer. It is enough for me to know that at some point I stopped make assumptions about them and dug a little deeper...


The beginning of a new life...

Twenty four hour ago, we started our new life. It feels wonderful. Simply wonderful. Simple because it is the beginning of a quest to live in a way that will minimise our impact on this precious planet. And wonderful because we have a new sense of freedom from the confinement of an office with a spirit-limiting view of a computer screen. Today we walked around the city, pausing only twice to sit in nine hours. Movement, and subsequent exhaustion, is a wonderful thing.