Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CHRISTMAS WITH CHILDREN IN AUSTRALIA

This is the first year that we have celebrated Christmas with the grandchildren in our home. Once before we had Christmas with them in Victoria, two years ago. They arrived five days before Christmas and they were leaving on Christmas Day to celebrate in Melbourne with their other family. Their Aunty Carol and Uncle David arrived a day later. It was fun having the house full with family. So many times we spent Christmas alone when the young ones were living in England and America.

Since they would have lots of gifts at Christmas, I thought they could have our gifts early to keep them entertained while they excitedly waited for the big day. In fact they have two big days because we have always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve like they do in Switzerland and then they go to their other family on Christmas Day.

Granddaddy chose a remote control crane for Fox. The three boys all had fun with it.

Banjo loads the crane and gives the okay to the driver. Banjo also got a monster truck set.

 At last Santa arrived and there were two happy little boys with their toys.

 Fox wrote to Santa asking for a Star Wars Light Sabre. 

 Banjo got a fleet of monster trucks

Soon it was time for Christmas lunch of seafood and salads.
One huge Snapper, Moreton Bay Bugs and prawns.

Both son in laws are great cooks so they took over the kitchen.

 Then they put the fish into the barbecue and waited.

 We decided to eat inside in the cool air-conditioning and avoid flies.

After lunch it was time to give out the family presents. Fox chose Uncle David to be Santa and Fox was Santa's helper in giving out the presents.

A mini Kylo Ren from Star Wars dropped in to join the celebrations.
Soon it was time for them all to leave to join their other families. Then it was nice to enjoy the peace and quiet and the slower pace of us oldies.



Friday, December 18, 2015

BIRTHDAY BEAR'S CHRISTMAS PARTY

Birthday Bear invited her wrinkly friends to a Christmas lunch at Sunnybank Hotel, a local pub. Birthday Bear was helped to get dressed in her Christmas Dress by Ann, who found the outfit in the dog clothes department???
 The wrinkles waiting for lunch. Nearly all were present except Chris's husband , Bob, who was in hospital having more back surgery to correct a complication.







Birthday Bear had brought lots of presents for the friends.


THE FRIENDS

Ann and George

 Chris and Mary

 Helen and Paul

 Bill and Diane

After a delicious lunch it was open the presents time.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

Sunday, December 6, 2015

FUHLEHUNG! FUHLEHUNG! HUNG, HUNG! (Lazy Dog)


(Continuing My Story)

When I was living in Thun (pronounced Toon), Switzerland in 1970, I was woken one morning at 4:30 by hundreds of children in the street below our windows chanting, "Fuhlehung! Fuhlehung! hung, hung!" Bill explained that the children were seeking out an unknown person dressed as a court jester wearing a devil's mask. The children chase him through the town calling him Fuhlehung! (Lazy Dog!). This practice can be traced back to the 15th century.  The children of Thun are told this story:

In early days when the Duke of Zaringen lived in the castle and ruled the land, he ordered the court jester to wake him and his men early to go to a battle. Alas, the court jester slept in and made the Duke late setting off. The Duke was so angry that he chased the court jester out of the castle calling him a 'lazy dog-fuhlehung'.' 

                           

 Now and then the Fuhlehung appears hanging out of office windows and throws the children sweets.

 Then he suddenly appears again on the street and the children chase him again and again. He carries with him a baton and a bunch of inflated pigs bladders to whop those who catch him or pull on his mask.

It is part of the annual "Ausschiesset" (Shoot-out)  Festival held every year in September. The shoot-out festival is where the town cadets have a crossbow competition. The festival stops the town for three days. There are processions, dinners and much partying but for the children the appearance of Fuhlehung is one of the highlights. In the above photo it is his job to keep the crowd quiet while the cadets are shooting. They shoot a target which is a picture of the mean ruler Gessler, who William Tell shot. The arrow nearest the heart wins.

The town cadets march through the streets to and from the shooting competition. In the 70's it was boys only. Today girls are included and often win the competition.
It was fun experiencing this custom of Bill's town.



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A CALL FOR HELP at the other end of the country.

So the call came, "Is it possible for you to baby sit for the weekend?" 
Luckily, our calendar was clear so off we flew to Melbourne way down south. (But closer than LA where they used to live.) It so happened that Bernie was working and Sonya had been asked to fly to LA for the weekend ??? to work on a show that is coming to Sydney in Jan. Sonya is doing free lance production manager work now and then.
We arrived on Friday and Bernie and the boys met us at the airport at the same time Sonya was at the international terminal waiting for her flight but we didn't see each other. 

Earlier that morning, Fox had been to his new school with the Start Up Program, where the newbies go to school a few hours each Friday to prepare them for when they start for real next January. I think it is a super idea.
Bernie showed us around the house and then went off to work. He is acting in the series called, "Wentworth". It will be shown on SoHo next year. 
So we played with the boys, fed them, bathed them and put them to bed. This is all fairly new to us. It was learning as we go. 

The next morning we went for a walk to the duck pond and playground. Thank goodness for Google Maps. 
 On the way we found a bendy tree to climb.
 and hug.

 Then it was feed the ducks and make sure Banjo didn't throw himself in.

 Sonya had told us there was a playground near the duck pond but we walked and walked and couldn't find it until we turned around and found it on the way back. (Where Fox had said it was.)
 Then we walked home. It was a long way for one tired little boy who by now was a tad grumpy. So it was  piggy back time. 

On Sunday we worked out where the nearest train station was and what time the trains left for the city. (All Hail Mr Google!) Thanks to Sonya's suggestion we took the boys to the city square to post a letter to Santa. We had written letters to Santa the day before and I promptly forgot to pack them in the bag which was full of snacks, wipes, a book and an iPad.

 So when we arrived in town we walked the streets looking for a newsagent to buy more letter writing materials. On the way we had fun with theses statues. Thanks to our friend Ken, we have a description of the sculpture : Three Businessmen by Alison Weaver and Paul Quinn
These three statues are on the corner of Swanston and Bourke Sts Melbourne.
"Officially named the 'Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle', this whimsical, life- sized sculpture pays homage to Melbourne's three pioneers, returning them to the city's streets as pedestrians observing Melbourne's development throughout time."



 Surprise, surprise, Santa arrived in the City Square and we didn't have to line up for long.




At the last minute I found a flower stall selling cards and envelopes and we were able to sit in the park and write another letter for Santa (He apparently answers the letters posted here)

Why would you design a Santa Mailbox with the slot too high for little children???


 Time for an ice cream and a snack. Banjo had fun trying to organise his napkin and in the process wiped his ice cream over Fox's jumper (sweater). Fox wasn't sure that he liked his ice cream and said, "I guess we can't change it for a different one?"

 It was getting close to lunch time and tired time so we headed back to Melbourne's famous Flinders Street Station. Melbourne is also famous for its unpredictable weather. It was cold (17°C) even though its summer. The next day it was hot. (33°C)

 Mr Google told us we needed the Glen Waverley line to get back to Darling Station.  When the boys started getting restless I remembered the book and iPad that I had packed....pity about Santa's letters.


 Bernie returned from his weekend job and took the boys to a playground so we could have a rest. But Bernie plays in a band on Sunday night so we took over again.

 Fox made his own Pizza but Banjo wanted spaghetti.
He wouldn't let me cut it or twist it. It was hilarious watching him. 
Soon it was bath time, story time and then we all fell into bed exhausted.

Monday morning we had to return to Brisbane and Aunty Kate took the baton and cared for the boys until Bernie returned from work. Sonya arrived home the next morning.
It was fun bonding with the boys but we found it tiring. I take my hat off to all those grandparents out there who care for their grand children on a regular basis.
(All photos except the first were taken by Bill, the first by Sonya.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NOW AND THEN AGAIN

While I was in Sydney last week i not only visited a house where I used to live in 1963 but I also visited "The Australian School of Pacific Administration" (ASOPA) where I studied to be a teacher for Papua new Guinea in 1962/3. Back then, the school was a collection of old buildings that had been used as an army training centre during the second world war. But, it was situated on the most scenic bit of land on Middle Head jutting out into Sydney Harbour/Port Jackson.
ASOPA in the 60's
I took this shot of the first few buildings of the school in 1962.

In 2005 we had our second reunion with the teacher training students called Cadet Education Officers. We went back to the school and we were saddened to see it was no longer being used and the buildings were in a very bad state. So much so that we were prevented from going in them for safety reasons.

Last week when I visited the old school it had been renovated and turned into a business park. This sign greeted us in the car park giving a map and list of businesses. It was so good to see the place had been brought back to life. The buildings seemed to  have more glass, covered walkways and lovely gardens. Better than when I was studying there.




I took this photo from about the same place as those above but the gardens hid the buildings.

So I walked behind the trees to try and capture a shot to compare with my 1962 shot. (The second one from the top)

I think this was the Library or the Admin block in the 60's.

The same block today.

None of these fancy walkways and nice gardens when we were there.

This was our rec room and canteen. In summer we would sit outside on the lawns to eat lunch and look at the beautiful view.

The view from the lawn in the 60's

The view from the same place today. We walked to the bottom of the lawn and found a board walk to a lookout. In the old days we would walk through the bush down to a little beach for evening sing alongs.
My daughter Carol came with Bill and me.

Carol looking towards Sydney CBD.

This is looking the other way towards the Sydney Heads with the famous Manly Ferry on its way across the heads to Manly. (A great trip if you are ever in Sydney)
It was a lovely trip down memory lane.