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General posts about life and family

October 24, 2013

Country Women and their gardens

13-Array of colour1 smlMany country women take great pleasure in their gardens. It’s one thing I’ve struggled with in coming to live in the bush. I’m not a keen gardener as I’d rather be in the office writing. But I’ve worked at it (with some help) and I have to say after five years, my garden is gradually improving. This year some visitors even commented, “Margôt, the garden is looking lovely.” I was very proud as no one has ever said that to me before!

Contrasting Colours

Contrasting Colours

But today I had delight in sharing my neighbour’s triumph for a little while at “Cooinda” near Stanthorpe. Margaret Finlay’s spectacular array of colours and hidden delights took my breath away as I explored her substantial garden (which has grown over the years requiring the garden gate be pushed back again and again).

As I wandered, enjoying Margaret’s “contrasting colours” which appear random but I’m sure have been meticulously placed, I couldn’t help noticing the birds darting and diving around us chorusing the crickets and cicadas. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the garden. I’m told sometimes they are so loud it’s difficult to talk!

Margaret followed along contributing the names of the plants and telling me the story of her garden which echoes the story of her family. The Finlays have had their fair share of tragedy in recent years including losing a daughter and daughter-in-law to cancer. Her garden has become, in many respects, a memorial, nurturing family tributes to members now lost, amongst gifts from concerned loved ones and family eccentricities.

Gum tress subsumed

Gum tress subsumed

The garden has become Margaret’s life. It’s her work, her hobby, her passion … her retreat. I can’t see me ever achieving anything so heart-stopping at Spring Creek Station but I have to admire what Scott and Margaret have achieved. They’ve created a garden that the family loves to share for weddings, parties, barbeques, tennis tournaments. I imagined imbibing a casual glass of wine amongst the beautiful gums that have been gradually subsumed and provide a stunning contrast to the shrubs and bushes set around them.

It’s impossible not to be infected by Margaret’s enthusiasm. She made me realise a good garden is a learning journey: what works where; the importance of mulching, when to touch and when to leave alone. I shall have to visit again soon. I only scratched the surface!13-Montage of blooms

If you are interested and live nearby, they are having an open garden on 2nd and 3rd November (http://www.opengarden.org.au/regions/qld_calendar.html). It’s $7.00 entry and proceeds raised support Kim Walter’s Choices Program based at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. I guess they wanted to give back a little. They certainly inspired me.

Margaret and Scott

Margaret and Scott

Highs and Lows of Travel

Travel is usually an exciting affair though I must admit, as I’m aging, it can be a bit daunting. We have just returned from a trip to Dubai to meet our new granddaughter, Livia,and I took the opportunity to duck over to Germany while so close.

Bathing Livia

Bathing Livia

Having a daughter working for Emirates brings benefits. But cheap travel comes at a cost. Standby is high risk and you never know exactly what might happen and so started our trip, which saw us waiting at Brisbane airport for 7 hours only to be sent home. We got on a flight the next night though, but I think all the stress took its toll. I’ve never been sick on a plane before, but our leg from Singapore to Dubai was a nightmare. I came down with a severe migraine and unfortunately for me, the pain becomes so intense that I start vomitting … and it doesn’t stop, not until the headache passes, which can take days. It was 7 hours of HELL! The crew and other passengers were amazing and really looked after me as did Chris. You can imagine how relieved I was to get off the plane, even though I had to be taken in a wheelchair to the Emirates Airport medical centre (amazing facility) to rehydrate and recover enough to get out of the airport!

But of course once recovered, it was all worth it to meet our little granddaughter and reconnect with our two grandsons. We have a daughter, Zoe and a son, Neal and his wife Lauren, living in the UAE. It is precious time with them, to understand their lifestyles and experience the extremes of Dubai – the multi-culturalism, 5 star shopping malls, the desert and other developments. This is the hottest time of the year in the Middle East – 40° to 45° and it doesn’t cool down much at night. You live in air-conditioning. So it was a relief, climate-wise, to move to the next leg of my journey, visiting my good friend, Birgit, in Frankfurt where the summer was more tepid. Of course, my anxiety levels were high getting back on that plane! Fortunately the trip was awesome and my travel-legs regained.

Lush Countryside

Lush Countryside

Germany is stunningly beautiful. What a place, breathtaking. Though I have been there once before, this time I fell in love. The countryside is so lush and despite the high population density, the landscape is dotted with forests and fields such that you have a sense of openness. I admire the German’s for their organisation, structure and dependability. The cities, towns and villages are full of character, history and interest. It was so lovely to stroll around the malls on cobbled streets with alfresco dining everywhere. I can’t wait to go back.

I returned to Dubai to see the family again and break up the journey home

Cobbled Malls

Cobbled Malls

(especially after what happened on the way over). All was good. Ramadan had started. State and Church are not separate in Dubai, so it’s law. You cannot be seen eating or even drinking water in public all day … interesting. The family decided to enjoy Iftar (the breaking of the fast at sundown). Many of the hotels cater for this special meal and it was an opportunity to appreciate some Muslim culture at its best. We had a lovely evening … until Lauren and I awoke at 4 am in the morning with vomitting and diarrhoea! The day before I was due to fly home! Can you believe it?

We recovered within a few hours fortunately and I was able to tackle the journey home – 2 kilos lighter than when I had arrived.

May 6, 2013

Black Sabbath

A fan of heavy metal? Me neither. In fact I hate it so much I usually want to turn it off within a few minutes. But Chris has been a dedicated fanatic, following Ozzie Osborne’s career forever. It’s interesting that after all the years of listening to Black Sabbath blaring in the CD player while working in the paddock, the kids and I have actually developed a deep affection for them!

Exploding Performance

Exploding Performance

That’s why it was so exciting when we heard that Black Sabbath was coming to Brisbane! The kids chipped in and the tickets made a great Chrissie present. Chris would get to see his idol, Ozzie Osborne, LIVE.

He was a bit nervous though, I have to say. $160.00 a ticket hurts on any account but it wasn’t just the price; he was concerned about the band. Let’s face it, like us, they aren’t getting any younger! And the band members have been hard on their bodies and abused themselves severely over the years with drugs and excesses. Ozzie is an old man. Would he and the guys really be up to it? Would they give us our money’s worth?

Sold Out

Sold Out

Well, on Anzac day we went to find out.

What a night! It’s hard to describe in words our experience. We sat at the back of the Boondall Entertainment centre, amongst the black t-shirts and dread locks, looking down on the mosh pit and the press of fans (it was sold out).

The band took stage. I couldn’t help but marvel at how two guitarists, a drummer and one singer could manage to create such an explosion of music and sound and, well … life, which filled the massive auditorium. It even made my tummy vibrate.

As well as the sound, the stage was electric with light works, video projections and enigmatic performances by each member of the band. We were in the presence of majestic talent and we were absolutely enthralled by every living precious moment of it. There was something magical and mesmerising about watching the performance of so many songs you have listened to over the years, unfolding before you … LIVE.

We didn’t want it to end.

We watched Ozzie worshipped by his fans and he gave his all back. He commanded the stage as he always has. His pitch may have been off slightly in one or two songs with a register now too low for his aging voice box, but he nailed it just the same.

Savouring the Memory

Savouring the Memory

Did Chris enjoy it? Well he’s got the tickets stuck to the wall next to his desk in the office, wanting to keep the memory fresh for as long as possible.
But there is something about the visceral, ephemeral nature of a live performance that is captured for that moment, then lost. Though, I can say that even today, the memory lives within me. I don’t want to forget it. I won’t let it go.

For a few hours I was young again and I LOVED it.