Monday, 28 December 2009

Rain continues so it is indoor time

After so many months of drought it is refreshing to see the rain - but I'm sure parents of young children will be finding it a challenge to keep them happy indoors. At least they need the opportunity to "run off some energy" - keeping them amused should not be too difficult with all the games, new toys, etc that would have been under the Christmas tree only a few days ago.

Yesterday I made some fig jam - Drunken Fig Jam, said the recipe though it was only a "normal" recipe with some added brandy. I also baked some shortbread biscuits - I had prepared the mixture on Christmas Eve - and planned to have the children cut out the shapes, but we didn't need anything to occupy the children on Christmas day.

So - while I caught up on some correspondence - thank you letters, I was only metres away from the bubbling jam and cooking cookies.

I'm yet to record my new year resoltuions and this year I have a few - so I will type them out and print them out and put the sheet somewhere. It will be more a "map" of where I want to go, and where I want to be in 2010.

I'm still planning to go to China in February - so am watching the fares to Shanghai. I'd like to go to Beijing, but I'll have to do that during the semester. Maybe alone. We will see.

I'd like to go via Hong Kong this time, as I've not been there, but the fare is more expensive - so again, I might try and wangle that for the return trip. Again, I'll wait and see.

During my Christmas shopping I came across a card game that I hope to play with family in the next week or so, but I think I can make it a very useful activity in my classes here in Australia and in China. It is a product of some clever Australians.

It is in a little pack that I bought at one of the book shops - it is called "The Art of Conversation" and has 100 cards each with three questions. They have created a game plan too, but I can see other things that can be done with it.

Conversation in English is one of the challenges for Chinese students. They have learned so much about grammar and vocabulary, but do not find it easy to put conversation together. We know some of the "stock phrases" that are common - but helping the students "think outside the square" is something I like doing.

In fact, I had a regular Monday night converstion club going in the "Green Cafe" on SPT Street within the university campus, and this game would be ideal for that.

However, it is not something that was created for ESL classes, it is something that I am sure would work well in small groups here to create stimulating conversation, which is what it was created for.

"The Art of Converston" comes in a neat box, with the 300 cards, and some instructions for us. As there are 100 cards anda total of 300 questions, you could play it with the same group over and over again, and not repeat a questions. I bought the pack for less than $20.

One of the cards has these questions "A living legend. Anybody come to mind?" and "Which food do you find most off-putting?" and " "Happiness" What comes to mind?" I'm sure readers will already have a few ideas of what they can say. It is well put together by the authors, Keith Lamp and Louise Howland.

You can find out more at their website

A good family game.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas is almost over

At least all the high end chaos and we all survived. Lunch was well prepared by MM and we had a great day. We are glad to have chosen an indoor event as it just poured with rain for most of the morning and certainly would have put a dampener on any outdoor celebration.

Actually we watched with amusement as our Kiwi neighbours who certainly know how to celebrate did so but tried to put up a tent-like structure in the heavy rain. They did eventually get it up and standing after a few comedic situations, but in the end I don't think they used it very much. Their party went on for a few days and always there were about 4 strange cars there. Good luck to them.

We had all our Queensland families - our daughter and her husband and their 2 girls, and our son and his wife and their 2 children. We had the usual exchange of gifts and I think all were happy with their gifts. We sat down at a big table in the loungeroom for roast turkey, ham, and vegetables, after we had all pulled our bon bons.

After the lunch, the Gold coast family headed back to another party, and the rest of us bundled into a car and went to the house I am looking after at the moment - to enjoy their swimming pool. And we certainly did enjoy the cool water!!!

Boxing Day was very quiet - I managed to watch a lot of the Boxing Day cricket match Australia vs Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on television, between reading and dozing. A good relaxing day.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Holidays and Christmas Preparation


It is always a strange time of year. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. In a way I love it but it is rather stressful. Everyone wants to do the right thing, especially get the right gift, and try to keep all family members happy.

This year we are having our Christmas dinner at our place, and it is a little complicated in that I am house sitting - some 30 minutes from home.

I go from one house to another, trying to keep things in order in both places. Including looking after the ripening figs.

This year we found so many fruit on the fig tree and right now the fruit are ripening. For me it is a race to let them ripen naturally and harvest them before the fruit bats and birds get to them.

And then what to do with the fruit?

I have in the past made jam, and may well do so this time, but last night I created a great dessert. Here is my Baked Fig and Clotted Cream Recipe.

Wash and dry the figs (about 5 for each person)
Put in an overproof bowl with stems facing up (I packed them in tight so they could not fall over.)
Sprinkle with Demerara sugar

Bake in medium oven for 30 minutes.

Tonight there will be a slight variation. I'll report later on the success or otherwise of that.

Add clotted cream and serve.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

China and more

I have reported that I have a contract for next semester in China. Strangely I received another email from the university (a) asking me if I know someone who would like to teach there next semester and (b) arranging to pick me up at KFC at Shanghai Pudong Airport on February 25th.

The latter is especially amusing as I don't have my air fare booked yet and I may well fly into Hangzhou which is closer to Shaoxing. In any case I'm not worried if I have to find my own way to the university from which ever airport I eventually fly into. I will not be booking my flight until after Christmas anyway.

After a week in Adelaide with family I've come back rather exhausted but no rest for the wicked and I had to teach on Thursday and Friday, and this week I work Monday to Wednesday. On Tuesday I will probably take my students to the art gallery at South Bank. It is their last week before a two week break, and while we still have some academic work, and I will have to create some activity around the cultural excursion, it should be a good week for me.

I hope so. I am looking forward to the break.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

December Update

I am sitting here at Glenelg in Adelaide where I have been for the past week. My niece was married last Saturday so it has been a major family event - or more correctly a series of family events. My two older grand children were lovely flower girls at the wedding, and all went very well.

We've had a couple of days to look around but always every day end up with family. The weather has been cool, in fact some days downright cold. The wind coming of St Vincent's Gulf had a feeling of South Pole in it!

I had an awesome meeting with an author and expert on Obituaries in Adelaide, but other than that it has been all family, with little "me time". It's OK.

I gave the two grand daughter's a $25 book voucher to spend at Dymmocks, so we headed there yesterday. What a hard task!!! It seems they've read almost everything in the book store! In any event, we did manage to spend the full $25 and all was well.

I've not reported yet, but I had my medical for China, and am due back in Shaoxing in Feburary 2010 ready for teaching on March 1st!! Yeehaa!!! I'm quite looking forward to it.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Working Hard

Mmmm. I'm not sure about ESL teaching in Australia. I am enjoying the work - but like all jobs there is a down side. One of the things that I find a challenge is that the communication is rather scant, and I'm not as sure of myself in this environment.

We work from a series of ESL books, which I find rather demeaning for adult students, but I am required to use them. I am now co teaching - so I have the students for 3 days and another teacher has them for 2 days. She is a career primary teacher and has not taught overseas, and she likes the books.

One of the things that she did not know is that the Korean and Chinese students have already had a gutful of English grammar (which is a feature of the books). She was not aware that three of the students have been learning English (the Korean or Chinese way) for many years - in fact many of them have been learning for 10 years, and it is their spoken language skills that need help more.

In any case I have learned that I have some leeway in taking the class so will spend more time on activities for speaking next week.

Oh, and there's Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. Again some serious mis communication. I am aware that there is to be some activity re The Cup - if nothing else students and staff will be able to watch the race on one of the big screens and I heard there was to be some activity in relation to the cup. Heard? Yes, I was told that a staff member was putting up posters about it.

As of Thursday there were none. So I am in the dark about it - and so not sure that there will be anything planned.

Other new teachers have also spoken of the confusion/lack of communication.

We will see how life goes. At least I have had a whisper of two weeks holiday at Christmas time. Sounds good to me!!! But no work = no pay. Darn.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Today should be interesting. After working for nearly two weeks at the college, I will today attend "orientation". I'm not sure exactly what will happen, but I have a host of questions which I expect will be answered.

Maybe I should change my title - as I am not regarded as an English teacher in Australia - just overseas. The reality is that I am an ESL teacher. English as a Second Language.

I'd not cut it in the "real" teaching world teaching English, though I'd probably manage. Clearly I'm not qualified other than for ESL.

I do find the ESL business rather odd, and I am pleased I have had the opportunity to see several sides of this industry. If I was younger I'd probably get more involved. I see lots of opportunities to make a difference with the industry.

For a start I do not like all the British or American text books. Some of the language does not make sense to me. And I know it is confusing for the students. Here they are in Australia, learning about things that do not happen in Australia.

I'd like to try to write some Australian material at some stage. What a task!!! Clearly it needs to be done. Oh, well, I'm not going to do it. Maybe a little.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Teaching English in Oz

I am enjoying my class at the college in Brisbane - and the student numbers are increasing. I like having some "fun" in the class room as it does make learning easier. In the book we are using in class we were doing exercises on appearance, important people etc, so to lighten up in the class we played "Celebrity Heads" - and the students all had a "go" at being at the front.

I don't have anything to put on their heads, but when I have sat them down in front of the white board, I write a name on the board behind them, so they cannot see it.

It is always a fun activity and the student must ask questions. It get's them talking. David Beckham, kangaroo, Mickey Mouse etc appear on the board and we all get a laugh. The students get more confident in talking with each other (and me) doing these exercises.

I am not in class today as I am attending a funeral mid afternoon, but I will be back in the class room tomorrow.

I really do enjoy it all, but have some concerns about the way we Aussies are treating these students who come from overseas to learn English. I shall try and find out a little more about it. The students pay a lot of money to study, and to live here, and I only hope they are treated with dignity and respect.

The college that I am working with appears to be above board, but I do know some that are not.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Sushi for lunch

I had been invited to spend some time with friends today and meet with a Korean student who is studying English at a college in Brisbane.

I was looking forward to it, especially as Sushi was on the menu and it was to be made by the student. I had taken some of my Korean photos too. Perhaps a little cultural exchange. I am familiar with Sushi - have made it here at home, but Sushi was not familiar to my Aussie friends.

It is quite a popular food for lunch and another friend and I often comment about the long queue at a Sushi shop that we pass on our way home from Society of Women Writers meeting each month. Clearly this sushi is popular for Asian people and Aussies!! It is easy to make, but quite inexpensive to buy ready made - generally a healthy meal.

My friends had turned their kitchen over to L from Korea, but it is not always to cook using someone else's kitchen, and L had some challenges. He even burnt the rice a little - but lifted the good rice off the top - and didn't spoil the taste.

There are many photos of different Sushi here too.

The noises and smells from the kitchen added to the intrigue - and soon a platter of Sushi arrived on the table - along with a plate of lettuce, tomato and olives.

I'm not sure that the sushi proved popular - though it was tasty and the sushi rolled in egg pancake was very keenly sought after! The plate was soom empty!

Dessert created by our hostess was great too - a great finale to a wonderful meal.

L spoke of his home, his work in Korea, and some of his experiences as an English language student in Brisbane. Perhaps life would be easier for some students if there was some quality information about living in Australia - even though many Koreans learn English at school in Korea, they do little conversation work, so find it quite a challenge when they hear us speak in Australia. As well, they learn American English, so our Aussie accent, and our Aussie English is quite hard.

I'm sure we could make these students more welcome too!

I thank my Aussie host and hostess, and my Korean cook for lunch today!!!! Many thanks.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

New job?

I had to complete some practical teaching to finalise my TESOL qualifications, and found a college that offered to help me. There was a suggestion that if they liked me, there could be some hours for me. It was a little vague though - I guess they did not want to commit to anything until they saw me in action!

I have done more than my allotted hours for the practical assessment and have the completed documentation. Yoo Hoo.

Yesterday I was given instructions for working today. Today? I only offered to do 2 days without pay!!!! Then the boss later just said in a casual way - "We'd like you to work Thursday and Friday. We'll get some paperwork done!" So it appears that I am on staff from today. No information on hours, or rates of pay. Strange.

As the Korean expedition looks in doubt, it suits me. But sort of a strange way to be appointed.

Yesterday only one student turned up. A lovely young girl from South Korea. It was quite extra ordinary as while we focussed on the class material I was able to discuss like in Korea with her, in the context of her learning. She was quite delighted that I knew some things, and even had to have a photo taken of the pair of us. And with the "V" victory sign from her.

So I am headed off again today. Being more worn out by the day, but I am sure I will survive today and tomorrow!!! I will be very tired by tomorrow night!!!!

It takes me about an hour to go each way - I travel by train, as it is easier and far cheaper. And I can read, or listen to my MP3 player. I have a short walk from the college to the station, but it is a good pleasant walk. Yesterday on my way to the college I called in at a Chinese Furniture Emporium in the Valley and had a look around. Nothing I'd really want to buy but it was a little like visiting a market in Shaoxing!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Adventures continue

Although they are not all mine. I will update though, as it does give some idea of the topsy turvy life I can lead I guess.

I've had two Skype conversations today - one with my friend who is now in Korea, finding out how complicated life can be there. I was of course supposed to be there last week, and my students met, as they do from time to time, and were hoping I would be there with them, but as the plans changed, that was not to be. My friend then was going to meet with them, but that didn't happen either. She has spent some time in Jeonju, and was headed to CheonAn today.

The accommodation which was supposed to be organised for her (or me) a week or so ago, is still not ready. There's a mattress to buy, and a desk, and so on. I don't know if she will stay there tonight - it does sound a bit "iffy" as we would say.

From China I was in touch with a student from the university in Shaoxing - we always talk about me going back there. She is a working girl now, but still wants to show me around her home town which is not far from Hangzhou. I am looking forward to seeing her and her family.

I was reading a website which is a network of teachers in China and recognised the name of someone who was in our writing group. She went to China some months ago, but went through an agent. It turns out this guy is a rogue and he had her booked into doing so much extra work. She had not got her Z visa before she went to China, so was rather restricted in what she could do too. However, she has been able to negotiate a better plan but still is not happy. She was initially required to mark 8000 assignments in one year! How would that be!!!

Anyway I have heard from her and she is OK, but not sure of her next move - back to Australia or something else in China.

Then I received a message from someone who had discussed with me a program in north China, and teaching nurses English so that they could come to Australia and train/work here. The project fell through though. She is back in Australia - but needs to update her qualifications - things have changed in the few years she has been out of the country. So she is betwixt and between.

Meanwhile I have been working on lesson plans to teach at a college in Brisbane tomorrow. I was due to go and sit in on a lesson, but the teacher has called in sick, so I got a call to delay my arrival tomorrow. I've found it somewhat challenging to do a lesson plan - with so many unknowns. I don't know the students, am not familiar with the English program they are doing, and will be "winging it" as they say.

Then came the snakes!!! MM has been working on the front garden - a long overdue project that is all but complete today. Planter boxes have been built and are in situ, and he was piling the dirt from a pile that has been sitting on the front lawn for several years. Growing with each mowing as the clippings were thrown onto it. Seems Mrs Snake chose this place for her nest and he came across a dozen or so baby snakes. They were around a foot long and scurried all over the place as he spaded the dirt into the new planter boxes. Quick - get the camera!!!

Meanwhile, in preparation for the meeting of the Society of Women Writers tomorrow (yes, I was going to fit that in before going to the College), where we have to swap one of our favourite books after writing about 50 words about it. Only 50? OK.

The Book I have chosen is one that I have bought (and given away) on many occasions. It is a book called "Random Acts of Kindness" which set me on a course with the Kindness Foundation in Australia. I confess I have lost touch with the organisation, after being their quite active Queensland representative. A long time ago I think. Maybe 10 years ago.

In any case, I found their website and saw that the founder of the Australian Kindness Movement has been ill. I have sent a message giving him my best wishes for a speedy recovery. I've also learned that it is Kindness Week in November - in fact Australian Kindness day is November 6th.

I love the book - it is a little book of short stories about extra ordinary kindnesses. I shall exchange it tomorrow - but will buy a new one at some stage. Perhaps I'll get involved with the Kindness movement again.

We've just emptied the compost bin - putting all the lovely new nutrient on to the new garden bed, and maybe in a few days we will plant something in the soil. We might wait for rain, as watering is still taboo here.

And that's not all...................

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Gold Coast

Yesterday we went to the Gold Coast - south of Brisbane. We actually go there frequently - but never venture further south than our son's place. Why not? That is where our two wonderful grandchildren live - they are of course the major attraction, though seeing our son and his wife is also high up on the agenda.

But we have recognized that it is so long since we have really seen any of the rest of this amazing place which has grown into one of Australia's most popular holiday venue.

And so it was that yesterday we bypassed the route to our son's place and went further ending up at Pacific Fair Shopping centre. We had lunch - a simple lamb kebab at the food court, before wandering around "just looking". Not plans to spend. And we didn't until we bought two chickens which we'd promised to bring to the family for dinner.

So much has changed since we'd been there. Pacific Fair seems to have doubled in size and is clearly a popular tourist and local shopping precinct. It was funny as one of the local store owners thought we were "tourists" and they did not mean Queenslanders. Why? We were hats. As both MM and I have had cancers cut from our faces, we tend to wear hats whenever we go outdoors. Probably a bit late as most of the damage has been done, but still we continue to try.

Then we drove right through the centre of Surfer's Paradise - just wishing we had the time to walk around, so that is on the agenda for next time.

As we got to Ashmore I spied the shop Anaconda. It is an outdoor/adventure retail outlet and I'd seen some trekking poles on special. The advertisement said $29 each - so I figured a $56 investment might be worthwhile, but was thrilled to learn that it was $29 for the pair.

The assistant was very helpful - as I am really a novice when it comes to trekking poles, and I like the idea of using them, and was not keen to spend a lot of money on my first poles. Just testing.

So, now I have my very own pair of trekking poles, so I'm keen to really try them out. I note that in Korea in particular they are very often used by folk going trekking, so I may find them useful if I take them with me. I'm thrilled that they concertina and could actually fit in my suitcase. We will see. I'll try them first.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Another adventure?

I had an interview this morning at an English College in Brisbane - and I am going to do 2 trial lessons next week. Maybe there is a job for me there. At least I should get some part time work - which is all I want really.

It is a new modern college - with facilities that I could have only dreamed about in China and in Korea!

It is a wonderful day here - it was a little cool this morning, but the sky is a brilliant blue, and clear with not a hint of the dust that we had last week. I drove home from my interview, walked upstairs and picked up the camera and went down to the waterfront and took a few photos. I'm not happy with some of them, but some were good.


I am still practicing with the new camera (my Canon) so I am glad it is digital and I can delete all those photos that are not as good as I would like.


The photos are of the Pandanus or Breadfruit trees along the waterfront at Wynnum.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Korea - not now...............

I was all set to go to Korea - had the itinerary and the Visa from the South Korean government, but things have changed and I am now not going. It is a long story. Maybe I will go in a few weeks. Maybe not. It is a bit disappointing as I was looking forward to it. But it was not to be.

There's still lots to do - and if I'm needed I can go. I will focus on going back to China next year. I hope that happens.

I have decided to do one more semester in China, and then focus on my writing. At least now I will have a chance to have my camera lesson, soemthing that I had hoped to do before I went to South Korea.

I have been enjoying the new Canon camera and have taken some good photos, but I will benefit from some lessons I am sure.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wilson's Boathouse

There is a little "peninsula" at Manly, not far from home with a stunning restaurant, almost at the end of said peninsula, overlooking the entrance to Manly Harbour.

On a good day, it is a fabulous place to watch the boats coming and going.

And today, being Wednesday, there was a lot of action, because each Wednesday it is WAGS. "Wednesday Afternoon Gone Sailing" where those who have the afternoon off, set of from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to do some sailing.

I haven't done it, but if anyone wants to try some sailing, can go to RQ and get a chance to crew on any of the yachts. They are always looking for crew!

But today, I was sitting in the restaurant watching the action on the water.
Enjoying a wonderful meal!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Has the dust gone?

Small particles of dust are still in the air, but most folk have started to clean it out of their homes. I've dusted and dusted but still don't seem to be able to get it all. No doubt there is much hanging in the air.

Despite the drought we have a week to clean our homes inside and outside using water from our taps without getting fined by council officers who are pretty keen to catch us breaking the rules in the current drought situations.

We have been advised to wait until all the dust has gone, so the car probably won't get cleaned until later in the week.

I've got quite a few luncheon events with friends - trying to catch up before I go away.

Still plenty to do.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Still working on material

I'm still busy putting material together for teaching in Korea. So much work to do - and so little time. It is starting to stress me, but I continue.

The weather has been strange - lots of wind and dust continues and everything everywhere is covered in the fine red dust from central Australia. Much less than Wednesday, but still not worth cleaning up.

We had lunch on the back deck - but the fine red dust took a while to clean off the chairs and tables. Even my laptop is covered in fine dust.

I spoke with my parents today - still have not told them that I am going to Korea. Still it will be only 7 weeks I hope.

We have sent our documents to the Korean Embassy with the application for our Visa. Hopefully we will get them back in plenty of time before we are due to go on Wednesday week.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Red Dust over Australia

It seems like the red dust from central Australia has been spread over New South Wales and Queensland by high winds that have picked up the dust and spread it around.

This photo was taken from my back deck, which shows the red dust in the air.

The house (despite the windows being closed) has a fine layer of dust over everything, and it will be days before we get rid of it.

Sydney - Brisbane the airlines have had troubles as many flights have been delayed because of the dust.

It has been chaotic.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A visit to the Wheel of Brisbane

I've passed this massive structure at South Bank as I travelled to and from the city and as when I visited the Cultural Precinct for the Brisbane Writers Festival and yesterday had the chance to go on board. I was a little disappointed in that the weather wasn't perfect. I had thought of going the day before as the sky was clear blue and the air was cleaner - but as it turned out the air was a little smokey or dusty, and the sky was slightly overcast. Warm and wonderful - but I could almost see the dust in the air.

There was a lot of activity around the South Bank area - and being a warm day, the beach was pretty busy.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Up, Up and Away again

Notification came through today that we are booked to go back to South Korea. I have my itinerary. Now I have to organise myself. We are due to fly to Incheon Airport, South Korea on October 4th, and due back in Australia on November 24th.

The spelling of place names in South Korea is confusing - you can see the name Incheon, or Incheion - it is just a different spelling, and I've forgotten why now. Will have to look all that up again.

Koreans will spell a place one way, and when you can find it on a map you search for other spellings and lo and behold it pops up.

While I was in the doctor's surgery on Tuesday (getting the all-clear from the ENT man) I found a National Geographic with a graphic story about North Koreans escaping from their country via China, and then back to South Korea. Incredible story - and gives a bit more insight into the atrocious circumstances in North Korea.

One thing that puzzled me when I was in South Korea last time, was the apparent indifference to the conditions of North Koreans, and the indifference to the strange behaviour in the north - the food shortage, the lack of basic conditions experienced by all other communities (there is no mobile phone capabilities, and the locals cannot access the Internet),but it is the nuclear weaponry and testing that I found alarming and seemingly the locals had not concern about it.

In the National Geographic article it mentioned the apparent indifference to the situation in North Korea by the South Koreans. I don't know why that would be but it is quite interesting to see. On the one hand they seem to be a caring community - very Christian, and yet, they do not show any concern about the situation.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009


It is unsettling. I mean, I am home in Brisbane, but with no job and no direction. I keep busy of course, and I am writing a lot, but sometimes I feel at a loss. Other "English teachers" who have been overseas report on this too - except those who has a job to come back to.

The Korea plans are on one day, and off the next, and as I write it looks like it is back on again. There are two small cities that are on the agenda and we are waiting for confirmation. So it is possible that I will head off early in October.

As it turns out I have been near both of the cities. One is on the way to Jeonju and the other is south of Jeonju. In any case, at the moment I am just waiting for confirmation.

I'm spending time practicing with the new camera, and I have done a lot of writing. One of my projects is the "novel" and the other is course material for Korea. It's funny - we've both found it a little hard to concentrate on it. Is it on? Is it not?

Anyway, I have a couple of weeks to pull it all together and I am full speed ahead.

Today I am going into the city again. I have an appointment with my ENT surgeon to check on my ears, and I will go to Ted's Cameras - I lost a lens cap on Saturday at the Writers Festival, so I need a new one, and I will walk through to the Roma St Parklands and see if I can get some good photos of flowers there. I like taking photos of flowers, and as it is early spring there may be some good subjects for me. Roma St Parklands is built on old railway yards. There are apartment blocks and a great park area. I haven't been for a long time.

Then to the ENT man, and back home on the train again.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Rise and Rise of China.

I attended quite a few sessions of the Brisbane Writers Festival over the last four days, and enjoyed the whole atmosphere, though I have some complaints or issues to communicate with the organisers.

On Sunday morning I went in early to a session entitled "The Mona Lisa Meets the Girl with the Pearl Earring". Tracy Chevalier wrote the book "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and Prof. Donald Sassoon wrote "Mona Lisa: The History of the World's Most Famous Painting."

I had only seen the full program on the Saturday, and did not realise that the two sessions I had intended to attend needed tickets. Luckily only $12 each, but I had to rush and purchase tickets after learning of that necessity.

I had not seen the film or read the book by Tracy Chevalier,but the blurb about the session intrigued me, and I am glad I attended. There was great discussion about both books - the fact that the Mona Lisa tome was about fact and the other book was very much made up as there was little information about the artist of the painting, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and most of the story was created by the writer because there was so little known about the girl and the painter.

Interesting discussion.

The session on China, clearly was of interest to me. The two writers were most fascinating. Linda Javin is the best selling author of 8 books according to the program, and works with the University of Beijing (or is it Peking?) and as I write this is either on her way back to China or leaving some time today. She was fascinating. The other speaker was Frances Guo, who according to the program "is a Peking University graduate and journalist. She has worked at Australian universities, Australian Embassy in Beijing and News Corporation. She now now researches Chinese media at UTS" ( I will have to find out what UTS stands for. A Google search indicates it might be University of Technology, Sydney.)

Frances spoke of her life in China, and how she escaped after the major battle at Tianamen Square. She tells a little of her family story in the latest issue of Griffith Review.

One thing that neither speaker mentioned during the session was the affect that the one child policy of China will have on the future of China. Both speaker suggested that the policy was not so strict now and that many families had more than one child, which is true in some places - especially in the rural areas.

However, the statistics about the inequality in genders - there are some millions more young men than women - suggest that there could be further challenges.

In any case I found the discussion most interesting.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Brisbane Cultural Precint.

Across the river from the city of Brisbane is The Cultural Centre. It is here that one will find the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Conservatorium of Music,
the Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland State Library, and lots lots more.

Surely it is a must see for locals and visitors.

It is handy to public transport (buses and trains) and of course via the Citycats which ply the river.
The photo above is the city looking from the Art Gallery - the old building is the old Parliament House, which is now a Casino.

On again, off again, on again

We are still not sure if the Korean contract is going ahead, so we are in a "holding pattern" at the moment, waiting to see what happens.

I am finding it hard to move forward - I'm not sure what direction to go. So life goes on. I've had a BCC (basal cell carcinoma - skin cancer) removed from beside my eye this week - my right eye, and I think it is odd that the problem ear with the grommet and the skin cancer were so close to one another. There's probably some weird message in having two things so close together, but hopefully all my medical problems are over after this. I have the stitches removed tomorrow.

I went into the city today - it is the Brisbane Writer's Festival held at the Queensland State Library. I attended only one session in the end, though walked around to take in the "culture" of the area. But it was pretty busy. The session I attended was on biographies - with Estelle Pinney and Sally Morrison as guest writers. Estelle has written a number of books, not really biographies, but she's had such an amazing life, that there are elements of her own experiences in her books.

Sally Morrison's book "After Fire" is a biography of Clifton Pugh, one of Australia's famed artists who also had an incredible life. The session was great.

I had lunch in a cafe in the Queensland Art Gallery - Smoked Salmon and dill bruschetta and a glass of chardonay.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Jazz Festival

I went to a local Jazz Festival yesterday - an annual Father's Day event here. It starts around 11 am and goes all day. There was a group of us - under two "tents" to keep the sun off, but it was most pleasant sitting sipping a glass or two of wine, dining on roast chicken, salad, pate, cheese and biscuits.

The performances were excellent - including the Andrews Sisters Tribute Band (see photo), and the Royal Australian Navy Band, and local groups.

One wonderful local singer, is 76 years of age. "Our" Glad.

Still waiting......

Maybe I will know in the next day or so if I have to pack my bags and go to South Korea. In some ways I am looking forward to it - others I am indifferent.

I have been watching the news from South Korea, and find some articles quite alarming, especially the buildup of weapons in North Korea, but at the same time there is improvement in relationships between the north and south.

And the South Koreans beat Australia (the Socceroos) 3-1, over the weekend. It was a "friendly" game, whatever that means. I think South Korea has had some challenges with soccer there in recent times, but good to see a good friendly match!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

To Korea or not?

I think it is always a challenge doing international business - and we have had some challenges putting together a program to take us back to South Korea to teach TESOL.

The language barrier is one thing, and the culture is another - so all up it is difficult to make headway at times. But it looks like it is full steam ahead to go back there - BUT, (and isn't there always a "but") there are still some things to be finalised before we pack our bags.

I know we will only be going for 8 weeks, but it will be autumn and heading for winter, so clothing is an issue. As usual, I will be taking my usual supply of jeans, and will be wearing them often, but I wanted to have a few more things, and warm ones this time.

It certainly is the wrong time of the year to be looking for things for winter in Australia, as all the summer fashions are in the shops, but I have managed to add a few pieces to my "wardrobe."

I'll be OK - remembering that she should be back in Australia before it gets too cold, before the snow falls etc. But, as climate seems to be changing everywhere, we will go a little prepared.

Having travelled to the East on three occasions in the last two years, I'm pretty adept at taking the right things. I've been looking for a back pack too. I have a small one, but it is a little too small, and I want one that I can wheel when I need to, or put on my back if that is better at the time.

That way, I will just have my big suitcase, and my cabin luggage will be one piece, which will have my laptop and camera within it. Then I can be hands free if I wish. Sometimes I found that carrying my laptop, and my small back pack was too much. So hopefully I will be able to get away with the new bigger back pack.

And I can use that for the occasional days off if I travel to places beyond Busan or Seoul.

Anyway, I'm preparing.

Monday, 31 August 2009

The new camera at last

I knew one day that I would be keen to update my camera. The little Nikon will still remain in my handbag 24/7, but I wanted to take better photos of my travels so have been reviewing DSL cameras for some time.

Eventually I decided on a Canon - and on Friday became the happy owner of the new piece and have experimented with it from time to time since.

I know it is bigger and bulkier than my little Nikon, but already I am seeing the dramatic difference in quality of the photos - so much clearer!

I've a lot to learn but I am looking forward to using it.

(I hope you like this one - taken with the new beast!)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The miracle of the grommet

Yesterday, before dawn I was up and dressed and ready for my very early appointment at the ENT specialist to get a grommet put in my right ear. I went by early train, as I had to have some analgesic (pain killing) stuff put in my ear, and then I had to wait for an hour for it to work, (good time for breakfast and coffee), before the grommet was put in my ear.

As usual the analgesic did not work as well as it should, so I did experience a sall amount of pain, but within 10 minutes the little piece was installed into my ear drum.

Immediately I could hear without the "head in the bucket of water feeling" and here I am, nearly 24 hours later and still feeling good.

It was amazing!!!!!! After nearly five months of total discomfort I feel 100% again!

Friday, 21 August 2009

University teacher's Uniform

Towards the end of my first semester at Yuexiu University, it was announced that all continuing teachers were to be measured for a uniform. There was a post it note on my door advising me of my appointment time for measuring and I duly went. It was quite a funny occasion as I questioned the Chinese staff about it. When would I have to wear this uniform? All official occasions was the response. Mmm. Still not clear. In any case I submitted to the measuring which was quite detailed.

After two months away from the university for summer holidays we returned for the next semester, and a few days later were called to pick up our uniforms. They were all in the same fabric - a light pin striped fabric made into a three piece outfit - a smart jacket or blazer, trousers, and a skirt - a mini skirt.

I tried them on one day in my apartment, and then hung them in the wardrobe awaiting instructions on when to wear the uniform. It never came. In the whole semester the three piece outfit sat in the wardrobe, and when I packed to return home to Australia, I packed it into my suitcase. I knew that no Chinese would ever wear it - as they are all much smaller than me.

And again it has hung in my wardrobe here. When I go back to Yuexiu I will take it - but I've not had any occasion to wear it - that is, until Wednesday.

I had a Chamber of Commerce breakfast function to attend - so I work the slacks/trousers and jacket, complete with my new brooch with a sparkling kangaroo on the lapel.

Very comfortable, and very suitable for the occasion

Last night I attended the farewell cocktail party of the Greater Brisbane Area Consultative Council - a government funded body that helped organisations with government funding - which has been disbanded by the Labor Government (who originally set them up years ago). This time I wore the jacket and the mini skirt. I procrastinated about the skirt for it was far shorter than anything I normally wear, but it was comfortable and looked OK, even if I was a little sensitive about the high hemline.

So, after nearly 12 months since it came to live with me - I have worn all three pieces of the suit.

And I'm likely to dust it off and wear it more often - even the skirt!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Mystery Ear Problem

It is nearly five months since my ear troubles start and I have been getting increasingly frustrated and concerned about the problem. Treatment in Korea and Australia has not resolved it, and I often try to explain the feeling of my head - as if my head is constantly in a bucket of water.

It appears it may have happened because I travelled by plane with a cold, and somehow the fluid in the Eustachian tube of my ear has caused a blockage. I have otitis media (middle ear infection which appears to be resistant to all treatment including antibiotics) and mastoiditis.

So next week I will have grommets inserted into the ear drum. These are not "drains" but "ventilation" as it is necessary for air to circulate in that part of the ear, and I gather the grommet will help "clear" the blockage.

Now grommets are something that generally children have as many of them are prone to middle ear infections - something that I do not recall ever having until early this year.

So, a new experience next Tuesday as I venture into new territory. One of the issues with grommets is that one must not get the ears wet - so no swimming, and care when having a shower and especially when washing hair. I will have to use special ear plugs to prevent water seeping into my ears.

But, I have been given the green light to travel again - so looks like I will be able to go to South Korea in September or October.

Sunday, 16 August 2009


I have never counted the number of photos that I have taken in China and South Korea, and from time to time do look at them, and update them. So many I had downloaded to my computer but not typed in the information, so the sooner I do that the better.

Mostly I remember where they were taken and details, but I resolve to do a better job of it next time I travel. I am hoping that before I head off anywhere again, I will have removed all photos from this computer, and start with a "clean slate".

I have invested in Creative Memories software, but the reality is I had the tools to do a lot before, but just lacked someone to push me to do it I think.

It's funny too - I received an email from an ESL site that I visit from time to time, and there was mention of a photo competition, and it asked readers to visit the site and vote on the photos. I was surprised to see one of my photos there - clearly I had entered a month or so ago and forgotten.

It is a photo that was probably posted here, of dawn over Moreton Bay.

Anyway if any reader wants to see it and vote for my photo - or someone else's, please go to

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Still betwixt and between......

Maybe I will know in the next 24 hours if the next South Korean venture is on - and at the moment I am indifferent about it. I'd like to go - especially as it is a new challenge and I might get to Pusan and North Korea, but such a lot is happening here, I'm OK not to go at the moment.

I received an email about a photo contest - I'd forgotten I'd entered, and it has a couple of weeks to go, so if you want to see (and vote for my entry) go to ESL daily - there are not a lot of entries, but the sunrise over Wynnum is my entry. You can vote for me if you wish.

I'm hoping to have some resolution to my hearing/ear problem this week - and it is with some trepidation that I will have a skull scan - most pundits joke about looking for my brain.

I'm reading an extra ordinary book at the moment about an Australian nurse Valerie Browning, whose brother is an Anglican Bishop in Australia. Valerie did her nursing training in Australia but has been working for much of her life with the Afar people in Eritrea. The book is called "Maalika My Life among the Afar nomads of Africa" Authors Valerie Browning and John Little.

As I am keen to write about Australian nurses myself, I've been mesmerised by her story - just an amazing woman. "Maalika" means "queen" and she is revered as such with the Afar peoples.

An amazing read.

In between doing everything else I've had emails from students in South Korea and China, and strangely enough a doctor in Egypt who is hoping to migrate to Australia. Interesting guy to chat with - and he needs help with his English too.

It is good to hear from my students though.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

What no post for nearly 10 days?

I note that my last post suggested that my ear troubles were over - but sadly that is not true. Despite a slight improvement a couple of weeks ago, there has been a relapse and I've had to visit the specialist again, and am due for some more tests next week, and another visit to the ENT specialist.

Hopefully I will get some resolution to the problem soon, as I am hoping to go back to Korea soon, and I won't go until I am sure I am well - 100%!

So I'm in a bit of a limbo.

I have heard from students in both China and South Korea - in China the students are on summer holidays so the seem to have a bit of spare time. And the South Koreans have just completed the next part of their course.

It is good to keep in touch with everyone - and I hope I will get to see them all, soon.

As well I have been getting more photos printed and I've almost filled two albums - and have a lot more to do.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Oh my ears

At long last I think I am about to be cured of the ear troubles that I have endured since early in April. I had a middle ear infection in Korea and had a strange expereince at two visits to the Korean ENT hospital. There was some improvement - but when I arrived home in Australia in June, I was at my doctor on the second day home.

I had asked for a referral to an ENT specialist, and as she couldn't "see" anything wrong, delayded it. She put me on antibiotics, which made no difference, and then sent me for a hearing test - and the audiologist advised an ENT specialist, and still my doctor hesitated in giving me the referral. Still I persisted and did see the ENT specialist - but by then I was in "remission" and it appeared as if my condition was eventually improving on its own.

But, after going to Adelaide in July - and struggling with the extreme cold there, again I had problems, so I was back at the ENT specialist.

Clearly I have a problem which he was able to identify yesterday - so I am now on some tablets. It seems it was a virus - (which is what I had suspected) and maybe after the treatment my head will not feel like it is full of laundry suds, and my hearing might improve.

As it is I have endured this condition on and off for four months! Let's hope it will soon be over.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Call from China

I'm worn out - too much Wii I think, but I am enjoying it. Initially I only had one handpiece, but now have two, and another DVD with more games, and the Wii Fit, but not the opportunity to try it all as yet. I have enjoyed the "bowling" and have managed to improve my performance. Still a long way to go to match the talents of the 5 year old grandson!!!

I've had a few emails from students in China, as it is school holidays so many are at home and not sure what to do.

At the same time I have had a call from someone I have only met briefly who was seeking information about cancer treatment for her sister. She was a nurse when my husband was in hospital last year, and she was thinking of going to China to teach, but in the meantime, her sister is diagnosed with cancer. The lady has five children and not a good family life. In any case, the nurse has become her sister's career.

I contacted a doctor friend in China, who is a very caring person. I thought he'd email me the information, but he phoned me.

It was quite a shock. I said, "Where are you calling from?" thinking that he must be in Australia.

His reply shocked me. "I'm in Shaoxing."

I was in a car out the front of our house, as I'd just come home with a friend, so told him to hang up, and I would call him on Skype. Which I did.

We had quite a chat.

What a thrill.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Wee or Wii?

It all started last year when my son bought a Wii (pronounced 'wee') for his family. Because of my travelling I didn't really see it until quite a few weeks ago, when 5 year old grandson beat me at every virtual game we played.

I'd been a good tennis player in my day, and have good ball skills, but this 5 year old beat me at every game. And later at Trivial Pursuit, though I confess to playing a bit dumb with that. I COULD have won, but I let him. (For the last time! I'm fighting back!!!)

So for my birthday I requested my very own Wii. Not just to practice to overpower this little grandson, but I was impressed with the exercise regime the Wii offered, especially the Wii Fit program. I could do with an increase in physical activity!

When the box arrived and I looked inside - I knew I needed technical support. I MAY have been able to sort out the myriad of bits and bobs, but when you have a talented son-in-law who is always keen to play with technology, I called him. After all, with all the babysitting I am ahead quite a few brownie points.

So he came - fortunately with Misses 5 and 9 year old. They were clearly more experienced at Wii than he was. They don't have one at their place, but the girls had played often with their 5 year old cousin.

I watched in awe as the girls assisted their father (who at one stage had to phone HIS brother to get advice on one aspect of the connection), but soon it was in full working order.

The girls set up me Mii (my virtual persona), and we played ten pin bowling. As it was my gift I was not so graciously permitted to have the first "go". I was in awe at the talent of the girls, but pleased to advise that in the end I was the winner (albeit by a small margin), of the first game.

Then tennis. Not such a good result here. I will have to practice more.

I will have to spend more time with my Wii - and get my skills up to speed so that I can at least keep my head up high when I play with young Mr 5 year old.

I do wish the makers of this amazing technology had chosen a different name. A lady of my tender years discussing one's "Wii" does give my friends an initial scare, as they have no idea what I am talking about, and at first think I am inappropriately discussing bodily functions. I guess I will have to have a few "Wii Parties" with my friends to introduce them to this technology.

In any case, there are several benefits for me with this new technology.

* It allows me to discuss modern technology with those who are most impressed (my grandchildren)
* It will give me the opportunity of exercising in another way, rain, hail or shine.
* I will be able to practice tennis and perhaps win one or two points to minimize the embarrassment when I play the 5 year old!
* The girls are keen to visit me more often because they do not have a Wii.
* I can have wine, Wii, and cheese parties in my loungeroom! Wheeeeee!!!!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Summer holidays = more emails.

About which I am delighted I might say! The students with no worries about study have been sending me emails. I love to keep in touch with them - and give the occasional English lesson as well, correcting their minor errors.

You know the good students - the ones that are keen to keep trying their English - and don't mind sending messages and getting the occasional advice on their grammar or spelling.

One delightful lady has been able to gain a place in a higher education facility - she was only doing Diploma but now will start a university in Hangzhou where she can get a Bachelors degree. I so love to hear those stories. It is very competitive and I remember getting a Skype message from this young lady who was so worried that she had not passed the examination.

She was quite desperate - and I had to convince her that "she had done her best" and that there was little to do but feel positive and await the outcome. Of course all her worry was for nought, as she did manage to upgrade her skills.

She sent me photos of her classmates - all young people who attended my classes - so it was good to see them. My, how some of them have changed - hardly "grown up" as they were in their twenties when I knew them, but they do change hairstyles, some feaures etc.

So wonderful to be able to keep in touch.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Great new tool!

While in Adelaide on Wednesday night I picked up a brochure about the latest popular books - I was just interested to see what is regarded as the good books to read right now.

Only today did I discover a great advertisement on the back cover - for something I have been looking for! When I travel to China or Korea, I always have a luggage problem. If I didn't want to take books, and other teaching resources with me it would be easier, but I always struggle to keep within the luggage limits.

In Australia we have a limit of 20 kgs - not a lot really, and when you stay for long periods and have to take winter and summer clothes, it is a challenge. Buy things there? Mmmm. Please tell me where......... you see I am tall, and much bigger bodied than Chinese or Korean women so buying in a shop is not an option for me. And I can't buy shoes - my feet are too long!

So the weight of my luggage is a big issue. Last time I tried to find scales - even to going to BCF to look for fishing scales, but they were too big and expensive.

Imagine my delight to read on the back of the brochure from Adelaide airport that they have a tiny digital luggage scale - which looks so simple and easy to use.

I must have one.

So I've got my scouts checking out today - not that I need it urgently but when I get it I can tick it off my list.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tram to Glenelg

I remember the "old" Glenelg tram that used to go from the centre of the city (Hindmarsh Square I think) down to Glenelg - they were green, timber trimmed trams and rattled along the tracks. Quite romantic in a historic way. In recent years the tram track has been extended to near the Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace, but it was on King William Street that I joined the tram.

Strangely we were offloaded at East Tce, as unbeknown to me and other passengers we had climbed aboard a "shuttle tram" so we had to wait about 10 minutes until another tram arrived to take us to Glenelg.
The new trams are modern air conditioned models, but many lament the passing of the old trams.

Soon I was at Glenelg and I alighted at the Brighton Road end of Jetty Road, and slowly walked along the full length of Jetty Road, popping into shops occasionally, but just enjoying the walk.

At Glenelg there is a jetty - I think for most of my childhood I recall that there was none, as the original jetty had been washed away in a storm very early in my childhood. It was rebuilt in 1969. I stood at the jetty and looked back - to see great high rise apartments where once there were parks. Still standing though is the old Glenelg Town Hall - where as a teenager I attended the regular Saturday night dance.
I don't recall how I got there - but I do remember my father always waiting for me at midnight as the dance finished. Not much chance to play up!!

Beside the old Town Hall is a huge monument to Governor Hindmarsh and the first settlers that arrived on the good ship Buffalo way back in 1836. Strangely not only my ancestors (the Abbott family) but my husband's ancestors (the Broadbents) were also on board, and were obviously part of the first settlers to Adelaide.

Strange that years later descendants of two families on board would join in marriage. I had lunch at a little restaurant near the end of Jetty road - enjoying some calamari and a glass of wine. Then I tried to catch a bus back to Marion. I'd been given information as to where I could catch the bus, but when I arrived a fellow traveller disputed my information, so I phoned the information centre. I was in the right street, but on the wrong side! In any case, just after I crossed to the correct place a bus came along and I climbed on board.

The bus wound round and round the back streets of Glenelg, Somerton, Brighton, Hove and Seacliffe on a long route to Marion. I often remember my struggles with travel sickness as a child, when I could not go very far in a car without being overcome with nausea etc. And so it was with the bus trip! Perhaps I should have got out and caught a taxi, or when near a railway station, the train, but I endured the suffering, hoping that my stomach contents would remain in my stomach until we got to Marion. I really suffered, but luckily got to Marion and quickly got off and walked slowly in the fresh air to my sister's place and quickly recovered.

Adelaide City

I enjoyed my "PFD" - parent free day. I go to Adelaide for the express purpose of visiting my elderly parents, so endure most of my time living the past, being told the same story over and over again, eating food that I'd rather not, but then enjoying the frequent glasses of Pattriti Tawny Port!

On Monday I had my "PFD" and caught the train into the city. I learned that as a "senior" public transport is free (buses, trains, and trams" during the hours of 9 am and 3 pm) so I took advantage of that.

I caught the train from the new Oaklands Railway Station - moved a little from the station that I was more familiar with as a youngster. It was on the station that I met a lady, of Italian descent, who had lived in the area for 52 years.

Many migrants came to Australia post war and she and her husband came out from Italy (somewhere near Venice) and lived there. He is no longer around (I assumed deceased) but she spoke of him with a little bitterness as she claims he forced himself on her when she was just 18, and a pregnancy resulted!

Her son and I went to the same school, though he was a couple of years younger than me, and I did not recall him. We had quite a chat on the train going to the city.

When we arrived at the city, we parted ways - but it was a wonderful short time we spent together. I walked a little way along North Terrace and when I saw at the top of the entrance steps, a sign that said "Welcome to Parliament House" I ventured up the stairs and into the main foyer.

Now, when I was a regular pedestrian on North Terrace as a school girl, and as an office worker on North Terrace, only parliamentarians and people doing high level business with our politicians were permitted.

As it turns out, Fridays are the days to see through Parliament House on guided tours so, I had picked the wrong day, but perhaps I can do that next time I am in Adelaide.

I walked around to Rundle Mall and walked the length of the Mall before getting on a tram in King William Street and going to Glenelg - another place that I have great memories of, all those years ago when I lived in Adelaide.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Is this a lemon?

Isn't this the weirdist????

It is a malformed lemon that appeared in a greengrocer shop - and given to my sister.

We initially wondered what it was, but I looked closely and saw that it had the texture of lemon skin, and we slightly scratched the end near where it would have been attached to the tree, and found the strong lemon scent.

Maybe will be told the story of it - but at the moment - I know nothing. Freaky really.

My Dad and his hat.

I gave my Dad one of the Shaoxing hats, and he looks good in it - but he's not a "hat man" and though he is impressed with the look, I'm not sure where or when, or IF he will wear it.

At 90 he still plays bowls, and they guys there know he has a wild sense of humour, so I suspect he will one day be "brave" enough and wear his new hat.

It is bitterly cold in Adelaide at the moment and the houses I spend time in are not well heated. They have heaters but one has to almost stand on the heater to get warm. (No wonder I moved to Brisbane and stayed there!!!)

I've spoken to the folks (my parents in particular) about split systems but they are resisting. It is not lack of funds, but they don't think they will get value for their investment! Mum intends to be around for another few years - she reckons that 95 would be a good age to reach.

I find their house SO COLD I'd put in a split system even if I only had a few months to go. The folks often complain of the cold, and in the summer, they complain about the heat. Go figure why they won't solve the problem!!!

Dad's a pretty progressive guy - he has a digital movie camera and a cell phone - but I can't get him to consider the better heater.

I am here in Adelaide to be with the family for Dad's 90th birthday. He didn't want a great event - he'd rather have little attention, and no gifts. But we are having a family luncheon tomorrow - that's all. For me it will be great to have my parents, sister, her two children (28 and 30 years old!!!), and my neice's fiance, and my sister's partner all at one event, and yes, it will be in a cold house, but I think we will warm ourselves up with laughing, eating and drinking.

I've spent quite a lot of time with my folks, but a quiet day on my own today. Did a little shopping, and will do some cooking.

Just a nice quiet "me" day, as my sister is out.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

My Shaoxing Hat

When I was in Shaoxing (China) I bought several of these hats. The story is that they are worn by the boatmen who ply their trade in Shaoxing boats around the many waterways of Shaoxing.

They are always black, made of double felt, and of course work wonders in keeping the head warm in the very cold winters of that part of China.

Generally the folk that wear them are "old men" so I was told, and not only the boatmen but the tricycle (modern rickshaw) men wear them too.

They are sold during winter in the tourist spots around Shoaxing, and I took a fancy to them. I bought some for some of the men folk of the family, and one for me. I'd never worn it until yesterday.

I've got to say, on me it is a great fashion statement! I wore it almost all day as I had a couple of appointments. Everywhere I went people asked me about it. Even the ENT specialist I went to see asked if he could hold it and feel what it was like. He too had been to China and we chatted about our experiences there for a bit.

Last night I went to a "soiree" at the office of an Australian Senator (politician) and as I knew from previous years, that it was to be outdoors and it was very cold, I chose to wear my Shaoxing hat.

Again, it was a talking point, and so many people commented on how it suited me - looked great. Even I felt gret in it.

So I think I'll wear it a little more. I'm off to Adelaide next week, and I do have one for my father for his 90th Birthday, but I will wear mine too.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I've rejoined 5W!

I think some readers will have no idea what that is, so I will explain. In 2005 when I was headed to Ireland on my own, I found out through reading a travelling magazine about an international organisation based in the UK, but with members from all over the world that connect for cultural exchange.

5W? Women Welcome Women World Wide - there are the 5 W's, and with thousands of members all around the world it is especially good for creating friendships across countries, across borders, and so forth.

When I went to Ireland I did stay with a member near Waterford, and I note that she is still a member.

Today I made contact with a member in Adelaide, and I may well meet with her when I go to Adelaide next week. Not that I am short of things to do in Adelaide, but I'm always happy to meet new people.

So if there is any reader who is interested - you might visit the website. You can join on line - there is a membership donation of 35 pounds.

Women Welcome Women World Wide

Saturday, 4 July 2009

I miss the grandchildren.

I guess the people I miss most when I travel are the grand children, and when I return it is good to see them again and catch up with them. My, how they grow!!!

We have four now - the eldest is turning 9 on Monday and she is celebrating with some friends from school (it is school holidays) with an Asian themed party. Now the children do have quite a few souvenirs from my travels and I am reminded frequently that I had stated that I would like to take the two older ones to China. I mean it. I'd love to - subject to my bank balance being filled from an unknown source by thousands of dollars. I mean, it would cost me up to $4000 per person, and the two girls want to go, and of course their mother, so I'm up for $16,000 - before the menfolk put their bids in. And the other family - the other two grandchildren will want to go too, so I'm up for big bucks which I just don't have.

Meanwhile we will just have to play at Asian things. Mind you, the order for the birthday cake to be in the shape of a red Chinese dragon, will be a challenge for mother. The guests will get Asian gifts and some food will be Asian inspired, but we are not sure of the inspiration for the requested purple plates, serviettes and so forth, though I will produce some of my purple Chinese souvenirs to convince some people that purple is still popular in China.

I did have tickets in the $90,000,000 Ozlotto draw and was pretty confident, but something went wrong and I didn't get a cent. Still, you've got to be in it to win it they say. And since I only spent $5 on tickets, it was worth the gamble.

Today I attended an Eisteddfod where granddaughter number two performed in her very first competition. Boy, I was proud. I thought she was the best and she probably would have won a high prize but near the end her nerves got the better of her and she missed a few steps. Still, she got a Highly Commended and we were are all proud of her. She has also announced that she was proud of herself, so we have higher hopes for the next three attempts at competition coming up over the next few months.

Still, these are the things that grandmothers should attend. I've missed some great events, and I hope not to miss too many,but with 4 grandchildren there are many events on offer and still I would not be able to attend all - even if I was in the country all the time.

Meanwhile, I'm writing some course material for a TESOL course. I'm kept busy. Dreaming. Writing. Keeping up with the family.