Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A WHITE ELEPHANT

Last week we visited the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane. There was a photographic exhibition which we were interested in seeing. However, we were not allowed to take photos in that area. On the way out we had a quick look at other galleries.
 We had lunch in the outside cafe.


 I thought this looked funny. A workman relaxing in the quiet cultural precinct.

 One of the installations that caught my eye.

 My favourite was this White Elephant by Bharti Kher.  She calls it, 
"The Skin Speaks a Language not its Own".
 Kher used thousands of stick on bindis to cover a full sized fibre glass elephant reclining on the brink of death. The White Elephant is revered in Asia as a symbol of dignity, intelligence and strength. Ironically in English the term "White Elephant" is used to describe something big and useless.

 Outside the gallery there is a sculpture garden right next to our bus stop.

Looking over the busway as we walked over the bridge to the outbound buses. Taking the bus is much faster and cheaper than driving and parking the car.



Saturday, October 24, 2015

CAMPING ON THE CONTINENT IN 1970

(Continuing My Story)

While we were living with Bill's parents in Switzerland, they had their annual holidays and they asked us if we would like to go camping with them. Bill said his parents went camping every year usually to the Italian Riviera but this time they were going to Austria. I was quite excited about seeing another part of Europe. We left Thun and drove through Luzern, Lichtenstein and over the Arlberg Pass where there was fresh snow. Then we arrived in Insbruck. We found the camp site and put up out tents. It was very cold with snow on the mountains not far away.We went into the pretty town surrounded by towering mountains. We had the biggest veal schnitzel at a restaurant, which had folk dancing and singing

Trying yo warm up in sun.

 The next day was warmer and we went to the beautiful Lake Wolfgang where we found another campsite. People were swimming in the inviting clear water.  I hadn't been swimming for ages and I thought that I would enjoy this. I ran across the sand and plunged into the lake. It took my breath away and I'm sure my heart stopped for a few seconds. The water was icy cold. I swam a few strokes but soon turned around and headed for the shore. I had never felt water so cold. I was used to the warm tropical waters of PNG.

 We went on a day trip to the town of St Wolfgang and visited the famous "White Horse Inn". My inlaws had warmed to me and we had fun even though my Swiss German was very little.

 We weren't the only tourists. We returned to the campsite and that night there was a ferocious thunder storm. We had to hang on to the tent poles to stop the tent blowing away. There is nothing worse than a storm in the mountains.

The next day we went to St Gilgen where there was a statue of Mozart in the square.

Another day we went to Salzberg.

The weather was not the best so we packed up and drove to Munich in Germany. It was much warmer and the camping ground was crowded. It was fun walking around Munich. I couldn't get over how old some of the buildings were, especially the old town wall and gate built in the 1100's, that was 600 years before Australia was discovered.

We journeyed onto Rorschach on the Bodensee, the lake where three countries meet. Switzerland, Germany and Austria. It seemed funny to me to be able to have breakfast in Switzerland, lunch in Germany and dinner in Austria. 
 While we were there we joined in the celebrations for Swiss National Day on Aug 1st. In the evening kids had a lantern parade to a huge bonfire and then there were fireworks. After that we joined in with other campers for an evening drink and chat, which I found difficult to follow. I didn't drink alcohol in those days but luckily there was some nice fruit punch available so I drank that all night. Soon I was very tired and since I couldn't understand the conversation, I decided to find my way back to our tent in the dark. When I stood up the world began to spin and I was wobbly on my legs. Bill said, "What have you been drinking?" "Just fruit punch," I answered. After a brief Swiss conversation with our new friends, Bill laughed, "It was made with Kirsch, a strong Swiss liqueur." I staggered back to our tent tripping over guy ropes on the way and finally collapsed onto my stretcher. If I opened my eyes the tent was spinning around and around . This was the first and last time I ever got drunk.

The next morning we all had sore heads. The men were invited for a boat ride across the lake to Austria for a drink while the women cleaned up, we were not impressed.
The following day it was time to head home to Thun. We went via St Gallen past the lake of Zurich to Küssnacht where the legend of William Tell took place. We walked through the Hole Gasse (a forest track) where Tell shot Gessler. It was very pretty and historic.
We drove over the Brunig Pass and down to Interlachen and Thun. After travelling around Switzerland, I think Bill comes from the most beautiful area, the Bernese Oberland.
Bill's parents went back to work and we had to think about our future but there was more to do and see yet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"SORRY LADY, WE HAVE TO REMOVE SOME TREES"

You may have read a past post where we had a sewerage problem and council workers came and dug up my garden to fix the blocked pipes. Well after the pipes were fixed the council foreman told me they would be back to repair the garden but he also said, "Sorry lady, we have to remove some trees." The reason was  because the tree roots were damaged when the workmen had to dig down two metres to get to the pipes. Now the trees were unsafe. It was sad to hear but it had to be done especially with storm season approaching. 
A few days later they arrive to remove the clump of six palm trees on the right hand side of our front yard. (from the road)

 Two down four to go.                              There goes number five, one left.

 The digger pulls out the roots and the new manhole is getting its cover put on. There is now a bald patch in the garden.




The next day tree loppers arrive to remove a huge Paper Bark Tree (Melaleuca) from the other side of the front yard where the connection of the house and street pipes had to be fixed.

 He sawed many branches off first. I was surprised that he didn't have to climb the tree, he just used an extended chain saw. Finally the top comes down and I have another bald patch in the garden. However, they asked me what type of trees and plants would I like replanted. So I told them Lilipilly Trees, Grevilleas, Calistemons, Salvia and African Daisies. A few days later they came and planted the new plants and covered the bald patches with new sugar cane mulch. I was impressed except I have to keep all these new plants alive in hot, dry weather.

 With palm trees                                      and without palm trees.

The kookaburra supervised the work from the washing line

Linked to "Wild Bird Wednesday"

Thursday, October 15, 2015

SIGHT SEEING IN SWITZERLAND 1970

(Continuing My Story)

In 1970 Bill and I went to Switzerland, his homeland, with the intention of staying for at least two years and maybe forever. I was a bit apprehensive as I would have to learn the language if I was ever to get a job there. I had no idea if the authorities would accept my Australian qualifications. However, being young and adventurous and with no worries we decided on a holiday first  before looking for work. 

We lived with Bill's parents, who were keen to show me their beautiful country. We made many trips to many parts of Switzerland and further. It was a magical time but I haven't got pics of all the places and people we visited. Some of the following photos are post cards which I collected then. It was great seeing the country with the locals, much better than being a tourist.







Bill drove his mother and aunt and me up to Grindlewald a lovely village in the mountains.  It was summer so the snow was only on top of the mountains and not in the village as it is in winter. I was gob smacked at how high these mountains were.


 Another day Bill's cousin and family invited us to a picnic at Schwarzwasser. The weather was not the best but they had a plastic tent with a big sign saying,"Welcome to Switzerland."
Just coming from living in the tropics for seven years, I found it hard to get used to the cold weather...and this was summer.
 BBQ Swiss style.


 We visited Bern often as it wasn't far to drive. I loved the old buildings, the famous clock with revolving dancers on the hour, the street fountains and the very chic shops with under cover footpaths. We also visited the famous bear pit, where the bears begged for carrots. Even though the bears are the emblem for the Canton of Bern, I couldn't help feeling sad and shocked to see them kept in a bear pit. It did have a cave like enclosure for them to escape into at night or when they didn't feel sociable. It wasn't until many years later that a more humane park like enclosure was made for them.







 Another drive we took was to Fribourg and the tiny town of Gruyère, famous for its cheese. The roads were very narrow and closed to traffic but also full of tourists. We saw cheese being made in the traditional way.
On the way home we called into Gstaad, where famous movie stars live. It was a lovely town too.

 One of the most beautiful day trips was to Oeschinensee the highest lake in Europe. We had to take a cable car and chairlift. I had my heart in my mouth all the way. the scenery was stunning and swinging through the Alps exhilarating.


 On the way home we stopped at Blausee where the water was an amazing dark blue colour. We went into this restaurant and had a trout lunch. Trout from the lake.

After many other trips to Biel, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, Solothurn I finally convinced Bill to take me into the snow topped Alps. Would you believe I married a Swiss guy who doesn't like snow or skiing? This was something I would have to work on.

 We drove up the most incredible narrow winding roads. We went over three mountains, the Sustan Pass, the Furka Pass and the Grimsel Pass.

 The road carved into the side of the mountain.

The roads had just been opened for the summer. The snow was metres high on each side. I played in the snow and slipped and slid down a hill. It was the closest I got to skiing this trip but in later years we went in winter and I did ski a little.
Days and months passed and Bill's mum kept suggesting that Bill should get a job...............(to be cont)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

MEETING THE IN-LAWS

(Continued from here: A Jumbo Drama in New York)

After we were married in  Papua/New Guinea in 1969 we left the country intending to live in Switzerland. We travelled via New Zealand, Hawaii, USA, Toronto and London. We picked up a new car in London and drove through France to Switzerland. Bill was getting very excited about seeing his parents again while I was getting nervous at meeting my in-laws for the first time, especially as we weren't able to understand each other.

For the last year I had been so excited about going to Switzerland. It was one of my teenage wishes to go skiing in Switzerland and here I was just about there. Luckily, I have a diary and a few photos of this trip.

We drove all day through France. Bill was in a hurry now. We got lost trying to get through Paris at peak hour. Luckily Bill could speak French and asked a policeman which way to go. No GPS in those days and the road map looked like spaghetti. Eventually, we were in the beautiful French countryside and we pulled into the small town of Avallon for the night.

The next day we found our way through the back blocks of France to Nuchatel on the border of Switzerland where we had planned to meet Bill's parents in a restaurant. We had lunch together and I felt a little under scrutiny from the in-laws but they seemed very happy to have us in their homeland. Bill had to work overtime at translating for me.

The drive from Nuchatel to Bern and on to Thun was magic. Switzerland is a beautiful country. Bill lived in the main street of Thun.(say Toon) It is a quaint, historical town with a fairy tale castle dominating the skyline. The town sits on the edge of the Lake of Thun and the River Aare splits in two and passes through the middle of the old town. It is the most picturesque town surrounded by the towering Alps. (Bear with the 40 year old, scanned, slide photos.)
 This is the brochure that I poured over in the months leading up to this trip. I couldn't believe I was actually going to be there soon. It was one of those places you thought you would only ever see in a brochure in a travel agents window. Bill's parents lived in The Balliz, the main street running down the middle of the island in the River Aaare as it leaves the Lake of Thun (Thunersee). This is where I would be living for a while. Thun is dominated by its castle and church on the hill to the left of the river. The towering Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains are in the background. Thun's position at the hub of a rail, road and ferry network make it the gateway for excursions into the Bernese Oberland. (The Swiss Alps in the Canton of Bern)

Bill outside his parents apartment block in the Balliz, Thun. 1970. The road was closed for an impending festival. Today the road is permanently closed to traffic and is a pedestrian mall and market place.

 The ancient castle presides over the town. It is a Romansque square tower with four corner turrets in Norman style, built in 1186  by Berchtold V of Zähringen. Today it houses a museum including tapestries from the 1300's, armour, weapons, pottery, uniforms and costumes.

 We climbed up into the turrets and we could see all over Thun, where people have been recorded as living here since 1130.

On this day in town it was the bull market. That was a first for me.

Bill's parents in their 60's still rode their bikes to work.

Thun sits on the northern edge of the huge lake. 

 Bill and his parents were keen to take me sight seeing and we started with a steamer ride to Interlaken at the southern end of the lake about 20 km away. But the steamer criss crossed the lake stopping at many of the villages on the way. They were lovely picture book villages with traditional Swiss chalets.

 Castles also dot the edge of the lake. We strolled through the tourist town of Interlaken with the mountains breathing down your neck.  We had a delicious Swiss lunch of G'schnätzlets and Rösti (finely sliced veal strips in a creamy sauce with grated fried potato).
I had to keep pinching myself to make sure that I was really here and not dreaming. The holiday was only going to get better............................(stay tuned)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

LEARNING TO BE AUSSIES

My little grandsons grew up in Los Angeles but their parents have returned to live in Australia, (Yippee). We had Sonya and the boys stay with us for two weeks before they continued on to Melbourne where their dad is working. They will make a new home there.

While they were here they met a few Aussie animals. My neighbour introduced them to her pet bearded dragon (lizard.) Needless to say Fox was a bit apprehensive but very brave.

Banjo and Sonya had a pat too.







I took them to the forest where we saw a koala and a wallaby. "Look boys can you see the wallaby?"  "What's a wallaby?" 
"A small kangaroo" 
"Oh yes. I can see it. Lets creep up to it."




"Can you see the big lump in her pouch? There is a joey in there. Try to feed her some grass."
"Go on Banjo you go first." (But she hopped away)

We took them into town on the train. It was their first time on a train. They went to South Bank Parklands for a swim.

On the way home Fox had fun with Granddad and his camera.

 Other days we went to the skate park.

We went to all the different playgrounds in the area.

 Granddad and Fox constructing a star wars ship with Leggo

Grandma and the boys enjoyed feeding the ducks at our nearby lake.

This was a first for us, entertaining grandchildren at home. It was fun and hectic. Sure did liven up our quiet household. I was exhausted after two weeks and that was with their mother here too. I take my hat off to those of you who regularly care for grandchildren.