Wednesday, November 28, 2012

PARTY TIME WITH U3A

I belong to Logan U3A and we had our Christmas Party last week. What is U3A?

The University of the Third Age (U3A) is an international organisation whose aim is education and stimulation of retired people in the community, those in the third age of life.

The U3A organisation started in France in 1973. It was started by a Prof. Pierre Vellas. It was closely associated with local universities. This academic model is followed in continental Europe.

By the early 1980s, the scheme reached the United Kingdom where its nature was radically changed to be more a self help organisation. This model is also used in Australia, Cyprus, Dominica, New Zealand and South Africa.
In the British model it is acknowledged that retired people have a lifetime of experience and, collectively, a vast amount of knowledge. This is used to arrange a syllabus for each subject where each meeting is normally led by a member of the group with specialist knowledge.

In USA There has been little found about U3A. 
"Despite being introduced to San Diego in 1975 the U3A movement, as such, has not struck a responsive chord with aging Americans.  Part of the reason for this can, perhaps, be attributed to the wide range of competing, professionally organised programs.  The internationally known Elderhostel program, which also began in 1975, and a number of other large programs having many elements in common with both the French and British models of U3A are described by Knox (1993), and Moskow-McKenzie and Manheimer (1993). 
One of the best known and fastest growing of the programs for older North Americans, and one which fits comfortably with the U3A philosophy, is the Institutes for Learning in Retirement (ILRs) program." R.Swindell & J.Thompson.  Read more here

U3A Online Inc The world first virtual U3A was started in Australia in 1998. "U3A Online offers many other useful resources for older people, especially those who are geographically, physically or socially isolated. Our courses are open to all older people and disabled younger people anywhere in the world. They are especially suited to older members of the community who are isolated either geographically, or through physical or social circumstances (including carers)." from U3A Online Inc website. Read more here.

When I retired I wanted to learn more about photography so I looked up U3A to find a course or club. There wasn't a U3A in my locality of Logan so I went to Redlands U3A (a neighbouring city) for a year. Then I was contacted by a friend who was starting up an U3A in Logan including a camera club. I went to the first meeting and ended up being asked to be the leader of the camera club together with TOH's help.  So the two of us have been running the club for 2 years now. All leaders and tutors are volunteers.
I also go to "iPad" classes and I have joined a ''Walking for Fitness" group.
It is a great way to meet people, keep your brain active and have lots of fun.  


Here are some shots of our Logan U3A Christmas Party.

The beginner German language group sing Carols in German.

The Spanish language group sing in Spanish.

The French language group.

The advanced German language group singing with actions.

 Some of the Logan U3A members enjoy Carols played by Richard from the Ukulele class.

  After the little concert, everyone enjoyed Christmas fare and time to chat with other members. Jean on the right is the wonderful lady who started up U3A in  Logan City. She is now finding it hard to do all the organising by herself so a group of us have offered to help for next year's classes and groups.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A WALK IN THE PARK 5

("A walk in the park" is an idiom meaning "Its easy")

Back in April, I started a series of posts on different walks in our city of Logan. It all started because of TOH. One of his many excuses for not going for walks was, "It's boring." He was referring to our closest park which is Daisy Hill Conservation Park, which is actually very big and beautiful to me. So for encouragement I suggested we find different parks to walk in and so we did. This is number 5 in the series. I now want to challenge myself to walk in, and photograph every park in Logan. Then I will start on Brisbane and Redlands neighbouring cities.

This one is Cornubia Forest Park - Bushland Corridor.
 Off we go. As we crossed this little bridge we saw this....

 It looks lush but the creek only has a little water. We haven't had much rain lately.

Mr Kookaburra kept an eye on us.


Another dry creek bed.                                                             TOH finds a Strangler Fig

A Strangler Fig is a tree which grows on another tree and strangles it to death. Birds or animals drop seeds in a crevice of the host tree. The fig sends down roots to the ground and huge strangling vines up to the top of the host. It is a huge parasite, which lives off the host until it has killed it. By then it is strong enough to stand alone on its big buttress roots. It usually grows in rainforests so it was unusual to see one here. I guess this bushland is a remnant from an ancient rainforest. In the one above the host is still alive.

 Aha I see TOH is "on the home run."
To see other parks in this series click on the label. "A walk in the park"

Friday, November 23, 2012

ON THE HOME RUN

Curiosity got the better of me and I had to "gooogle' Wollomombi Falls to see what they look like with water. (see last post) I copied the pic from the net and stuck it next to one that I took on our trip there.
After driving along Waterfall Way from Armidale, we stopped at Bellingen overnight. We had been there once before but had gone down the coast road. TOH remembered that there was a very nice Swiss Bakery in the town. It must have made a big impression on him as he had no problems finding it again. As soon as we arrived in the town (I was driving) he said turn here, go left now, drive about 100 metres and there it was. Yet he can't remember where he left his phone.

 We stayed in a cosy B&B we had our own little deck where we consumed some delicious nussgipfel from the Swiss Bakery. (almond rolls)

 There was a lush back garden with a swimming pool which attracted..........
 a water dragon.  Unfortunately the next morning we didn't go for one of the many bush walks here as TOH is like a horse. When he smells home there is no stopping him from galloping on the home run. We need to come here again and stay a few days.

We headed north along the coast road zooming past sugar plantations and beautiful beaches. It was nice to be going home and to be back in the warmer northern climate. We have been home a month now and I'm planning our next trip. This will be next May and we will be going to the northern most tip of Australia, Cape York.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

WATERFALL WAY, NO WATER TODAY

Before we left Tamworth we put the car through a car wash for $10. What a waste that was. We weren't far into our journey when we found ourselves behind a cattle truck spraying cow wee and pooh all over the car, then we hit a section of dirt road which plastered dust to the wee. A bit further on we splattered through a cloud of insects. The car was more filthy than before we washed it.

Anyway we headed north east to Armidale situated in the New England Tablelands in northern NSW. It is the centre of a lush pastoral area for cattle and sheep. However, it is more than that. It is an university town and it has a big multicultural society. The residents, 22,000, come from 53 different nationalities. There are many art galleries and museums as well as churches and parklands. It is a beautiful town.

We only stopped for morning coffee as we have stayed here a few times before and I wanted to travel along the Waterfall Way from Armidale over the Great Dividing Range towards the coast before nightfall. This drive has been on my bucket list for a few years.

The Great Dividing Range (see my header) is a string of ranges stretching from northern Queensland all the way down the eastern side of Australia to Victoria.
Beautiful churches and gardens in Armidale

The drive through the mountains was lovely except that it hadn't rained for a long long time and the rivers and waterfalls were dried up or not running very much. 

Wollomombi Falls
However, we still explored off the main road to check out where the falls are when it is wet. There should be two waterfalls above and the second highest ones in the state.                                                                                             
When I zoomed in , I could see this miserable pond at the bottom of where the falls should have been tumbling over.
 So we drove on winding through the scenic country and pulled into another park and walked to the waterfall viewing area hoping to see water this time.

We were a lucky, there was a little water still running over the upper and lower Ebor Falls.

It was nice walk up to the upper falls. The weather was quite hot so we were pleased to have shade.

I would love to see these falls when the river is full.
There were many more falls to explore and I thought how much Betsy and George would like this drive. We still had an hour or more to drive to Bellingen where we were staying the night, so we didn't stop again. I must return here in the wet season and spend a week exploring the waterfalls.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

TRENDY TAMWORTH

On our way home from Canberra last month we stopped overnight at Tamworth in NSW. It is a large country town located in a beautiful fertile valley north west of Sydney. It is a rich agricultural area for grazing and grain. It is a thriving city, very modern and clean.
Tamworth is famous for two reasons. It was the first place in Australia where all residents were supplied with electricity but more well known is its massive Country Music Festival held every January. It is considered one of the top ten music events held in the world. More than 600 musicians playing in 2,500 performances in a wide range of venues for 10 days.
We found a trendy cafe for lunch and a coffee.

Besides modern shops there were still gracious old buildings showing off their architecture.
  
There are theatres, cinemas, clubs and bars galore. A big choice of restaurants, cafes and farmer's markets.
The footpaths are nicely paved with many big trees providing plenty of greenery and shade. The streets become alive with non stop buskers during the festival. It is here where Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley,  Beccy Cole and Keith Urban  began their careers. One of the nicest towns we visited on the way home.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BEAR IS DECORATING

Our Birthday Bear Group celebrated Ann's 70 birthday at Donini's Restaurant in Whishart. It was nice to welcome Karen again to our group. Karen also taught with us at Kuraby School, she is still teaching but at a different school. She is great company and we enjoy it when she can join us oldies.
(All photos from Ann's camera.)
From L to R: Karen, me, Mary, Ann, Bill, George, Paul and Helen.
Birthday Bear was sitting at the next table.
Birthday Bear was dressed in a smock ready to decorate the house as this is what Ann has been doing recently. So Bear has the paint charts, rollers and how to instructions. She also has curtain materials ready to go. There are plenty of sales brochures to help her decide where to pick up a bargain.

Mary was the clever one who dressed Birthday Bear this time and Ann is happy to have Bear help with the decorating.

Karen has been to Europe for a holiday since she last joined us and she was kind enough to bring back a souvenir for each of us.
Bill was very, very happy with Karen's gift from France. It is his favourite wine, Chateauneuf DuPape. He shared it with all of us and it is a nice drop.
Anyone not familiar with our Birthday Bear tradition can read more here on Birthday Bear's own blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ECLIPSE

This morning we had a partial eclipse of the sun in Brisbane. Further north in Cairns they had a total eclipse. People from all over flocked there. They had a lot of cloud cover but managed to see the final stages. We had a clear sky. We had to put a special solar filter paper in front of the camera lens so as not to damage the sensor. We wore special glasses to look at the sun.

My effort at photographing it wasn't the best. I read that focus should be set on infinity but I found they weren't sharp. You can click on the collage to make it bigger.
For more see Titania's blog here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

KAKKADOO IN DUNEDOO

 You know that you are in the country when you keep seeing grain silos and cows. We were driving from Dubbo to Tamworth in NSW.








photo by TOH

We stopped for morning tea. We bought coffee and cake from the Kakkadoo cafe in Dunedoo. (I love saying that)


We sat in a park with our coffee and cake. There were lots of lovely steel sculptures. This is a black swan which is called Dunedoo in the local aboriginal language.

 A Galah and......
Magpie kept us company.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

THE DAY THE NATION STOPS

The first Tuesday in November is when the nation stops to watch a horse race, The Melbourne Cup. It is one of the wealthiest horse races in the world. Besides huge amounts spent on betting there is also thousands of dollars spent on fashion, food and drinks. It is  party time for Australia. In Victoria it is a public holiday and in the rest of Australia many people have the day off and many offices stop work to watch the race at 2:00pm ESDT. There are Melbourne Cup luncheons in just about every hotel, club and restaurant as well as at private homes. Others flock to their local racecourse for the celebrations dressed in all their splendour. 

TOH and I had a sandwich on our deck. Afterwards we watched the race on television just like most of the other residents of Australia.

The following photos are from our TV screen.
 The horse are getting put into the starting gates.

 They are almost ready to bolt out of the gates. Tension in the whole country.

They're off.

 On their way vying for a good position.

 After 3 minutes a leader is obvious.

Every muscle of "Green Moon" is straining to the optimum.

The triumphant jockey is Brett Prebble. It is every jockey's dream to win this race. The horse is owned by Lloyd Williams of Australia.

There were some special guests. Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall.

Our friend Colin loves horse racing and he looks forward to this day every year. Here is his view of the day.

 ( between tears of losing again)

Well over again - the rain did hold off until the cup was over.
Melbourne weather is just so strange, they can
have 4 seasons in a day, I think they could boast 4 seasons in an hour
as well as the 'sporting capital' of the World!!!

My selections ran:
Kellini - 4th - busted his heart out.
Americain - 11th - did nothing. I think as an 8 year old stallion has
now got other interests. I suspect he will be now off to
stud duties at a high fee. Has won almost $6 million.
Dunedan- 14th - never in the hunt. Another stallion, who with over
with over $7 million in his bank account will be soon seeing
his lady friends like Americain.
Ethiopia - finished 63 lengths behind the second last horse - pulled
up. I suspect he broke down and may be "put down"  on
veterinarian advice. Such a pity.

The first 4 over the line paid for an outlay of $24.00, the wonderful
sum of $969,406.60! Aaaaaaaaah - someone or more
is lucky, why not little old " MOI" ???????????
==================
Winner: Green Moon.
Owner: Lloyd Williams

Williams, hardly a member of the battling class - see here:

"A prominent businessman, Lloyd Williams and his famous blue and white
colours have been a mainstay of Australian racing for more than three
decades.
Green Moon joins his list of famous winners including Melbourne Cup
winners What A Nuisance, Just A Dash and Efficient, as well as the
dual Derby winner-turned sprinter Mahogany.
With an estimated worth of $840 million, Williams - the founder of
Crown Casino - was once one of Australia's biggest punters, taking on
bookmakers every year at Spring Carnival time.
Now, he selects prospective Cup winners in Europe and brings them to
his headquarters at Macedon Lodge in Victoria along with his son
Nick."

The strange thing about Lloyd Williams is that he is rarely seen at
the races. He doesn't seek the limelight.i