Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A to Z challenge reveal

Drumroll - 
Here is my big unveil for my A to Z challenge in April
It is Wander Victoria with Little Wandering Wren!

Now those Aussie's living locally might be thinking 'that sounds familiar' and you'd be right! 
As without so much of a 'please, would you mind if....'
our Victorian State Government have taken the bold, audacious move
of launching a new advertising promotion designed at promoting the wonders of our State
with the headline "Wander Victoria!"

Cheeky or what?!
I mean all they needed to do was to add the words 'Little' and 'Wren' and that's me!

So if you can't beat them, join 'em,
your Little Wren looks forward to taking you on her own little wander 
around my adopted home state of Victoria, Australia.

Whether it is the beach or the bush
 I hope you'll join me for the journey!

See you on Friday when it all kicks off.
More information on the A-Z Challenge can be found here

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Brussels mourns

It is with great sadness that I see my Twitter feed filling up with news of the Brussels explosions. 

Belgium is a country that we know well, having lived there on two occasions for over eight years. My son was born there, and until fairly recently it was the country that our kids knew the best. Here are a few pictures from my most recent trip in May 2015 as I share some of my thoughts and memories.

Brussels - Euro Statue

All three of our children attended the local French speaking schools. They all started at Maternelle, like their fellow classmates when they were two and half years old. 'That's young' I hear you say. Which is true, but with three kids under five, I was not complaining. This early crack at education has given them a life-long linguistic advantage and some beautiful cursive writing...

Well, whilst they might be linguistically gifted, it is only compared with their parents. It is certainly not compared with the other students. You see in Belgium there are three official national languages: French, Flemish and German. We used to say the next generation of illiterates in Belgium will be those who are monolingual.

These different languages and cultures also brought their differences of opinions. We often heard the comment that Belgium could be the next Yugoslavia. Happily during our time, this never happened. 

We loved the melting pot of cultures from all around the world.

Living in Belgium was an exciting time of our family life, we have fond memories of this tiny country sandwiched in between France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. 

We would wake-up and decide which country to visit for lunch.

Looking out over Brussels rooftops
It was challenging living away from all family and friends, but we soon found ourselves a popular place to visit. Once the Channel Tunnel crossing had opened we could be in the UK and nearly home easily in three hours. Driving the car to England gave us plenty of opportunities to stock up on our favourite British foods at Sainsbury's returning with a boot full of our favourite cereals and treats that we missed back home in Belgium.

Our Belgian life combined the excitement of Europe, 
with the ease of access back home.

Brussels streets reflected in the modern buildings

Mind you it worked both ways, we loved the new foods we found on the Continent. The street markets were amazing and the speciality shops such as the boulangerie's with croissants like we'd never tasted, pain au chocolates, gateaux and waffles a real treat. 

You never got a bad meal in Belgium, Les Belges like their food!

Wandering around Europe's capital was always fascinating. You can move from the most modern area, like the roads around the European Parliament, to ancient cobbled streets in a heartbeat.   

I loved the differing architecture and the history of the place. 

Sometimes we felt like we were in a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale - well, he was Danish, but I'm sure you get what I mean.

I loved the differing architecture and, of course, geraniums in the window boxes

Whilst we had the excitement of living in the centre of Europe and the kids mixing with the children of the movers and shakers of Europe, there was a darker side to Brussels living.
There was always the threat of being a target. At the school entrance, even in the mid-nineties, our cars were inspected for bombs before we were allowed in to drop the kids off. This was also the time of Marc Dutroux, the Belgium serial killer and paedophile. 

When I think of my time living in Belgium, I was more on guard than my life in Australia.

We lived in the times where open borders offered opportunities for high-end car thefts, stolen on demand allegedly for the Eastern European markets. Car and home jackings were real, our company car was fitted with an anti-hijack device. Happily we were never woken by a criminal demanding the car keys with a gun at their heads, but had we been, the car would drive but after 5kms, it would slow to a halt. 

The advantages of being at the centre of Europe, 
was always its potential biggest disadvantage.

Today's breaking news is sad and horrific. I can picture the airport and the Metro stations and our hearts go out to all those caught up in this terrible tragedy. We share your pain.

With love to all our friends in Belgium.

Linking with Our World Tuesday
Thank you to all the hosts

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Hot Chevy Dog

Today is the 2016 Australian Formula One Grand Prix
and if you are watching it around the world on the television
you will see what a wonderful day it is here in Melbourne!
We have the sunshine, we have beaches and we have a whole load of noisy cars!

Earlier today I took the crazy poodle for a walk and we came across a
'Born in the USA' car rally.  I loved this number plate!

Hot Chevy Dog

Linking with thanks to Katherine and friends at Thursday Favorite Things 

at My Sunday Photo with thanks to Darren at Photalife


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Marysville Magic

Wordless Wednesday

If you would like to know more information on Marysville you can read it here
Linking with thanks to Sue At image-in-ing


Wordless Wednesday with Mary Denman:

Mary Denman

Monday, 14 March 2016

Marysville: 'Beauty from the Ashes' quilt.

Feb 7th, 2009 is known as Black Saturday.
It was the day of the worst bushfires in Australian history. 
A day when 173 people lost their lives.

In the small town of Marysville, 
a wildfire took the lives of 34 people 
and destroyed over 95% of the town's buildings.
Marysville was one of five towns that completely burned down.

Message to Marysville: Beauty from the Ashes quilt
Six years on, I am standing admiring a beautiful quilt in the Marysville's Tourist
Information Centre. The quilt has 131 patches donated to the community by people all over Australia to show they care and to encourage them in the long road to recovery. 

Beauty from the Ashes Quilt

Black Saturday was a day Victorians will never forget. Our Melbourne day started normally. The kids were back to their first full week at school after the long summer holidays. We'd had an unprecedented hot spell, and because of the predicted extreme heat, school Saturday sport was cancelled. We talked about keeping cool at the cinema, but in the end, it was too hot to venture out.

Koala: Beauty from the Ashes quilt

The temperature in Melbourne, a 90-minute drive from Marysville, peaked at 46.4°C. (115.5 °F.) It was the swirling, blustering 100 km per hour winds that were unusual and dangerous.     The garden, despite our best efforts that summer was tinder dry, the lawn was scorched brown and in the winds the already sunburnt plants disintegrated, scattered across the garden like confetti. Imagine what it was like in Marysville a town in a valley surrounded by mountain forests.

Butterfly: Beauty from the ashes quilt
There had been warnings of the bushfire risk all day. We watched horrified as fire after fire was reported, around 400 fires across the state. By the evening television news, it was apparent Victoria was on fire.

Blue Wren: beauty from the ashes quilt
Last year we spot an advert in the Sunday paper for a weekend break in Marysville at the recently opened Vibe Hotel, the deal included a bottle of Yarra Valley sparkling wine and Marysville lolly shop chocolates. It seemed like a perfect way to have a getaway and support the community as it continues to recover from the devastation.

I look forward to sharing more Marysville photos, it really is remarkable seeing the town six years on.

Linking with the following 
Blue Monday with a massive thank you to Jeanne at Backyard Neighbor 
for continuing Smiling Sally's Blue Monday Meme

Thanks to Judith our  host of Mosaic Monday

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Weekend reflections

Mr Wren has a new car
'What type?' I hear you ask?
A red one!

Don't worry we've all been giving him a load of grief about his mid-life crisis
and he's heard all the jokes about 'been called out to many fires yet?'

However, I did like the reflection up the garden path 
off the new fire-engine!

Linking with thanks at Weekend Reflections

Thank you Darren at My Sunday Photo


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Dear Suu, would you like to come for dinner?

Do you know those questions, 'who would you most like to have dinner with'?
Well, Aung San Suu Kyi is at the top of my list.
Today, being International Women's Day seems to be a perfect day to tell you why!

Yangon Street Art

Having just returned from a holiday to Myanmar we have got to know, Suu, the most famous woman never to have held office, a lot better than we would otherwise have done. Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy (NLD) and between 1989 and 2010 spent fifteen of those twenty-one years under house arrest in Rangoon (Yangon).

She is a charismatic figure, loved by her people, hated by the military regime who have been running the country. Recent democratic elections have given hope of a change. But the world waits to see how this might be.

I am drawn to Suu for many reasons, and I guess the bottom line is that I can't help wondering at every stage of trying to understand her life, would I have been strong enough to make the same choices? Her life shows the lottery of birth; her commitment and dedication to her Country are up there with the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, with the added complication of Mother's love.

Would you leave a comfortable existence as an ordinary Oxford housewife in the United Kingdom, for a life of certain danger, possibly even death, for your birth country, the country that assassinated your Father?

Would you leave your husband and two small boys to be brought up on the other side of the world without a Mother so that you could be with your people, even when that meant being locked away under house arrest?

If your husband was dying of cancer and you could visit him for one last time, but it meant leaving your Country and your people and never returning, would you do it?

Aung San Suu Kyi bags for sale in Mandalay
Aung San Suu Kyi's is one of the world best-known exponents of non-political resistance. She may be a petite, fine-boned lady but she's clearly as tough as they come, both mentally and physically. Not only is the world in awe of her leadership but her people are hanging out for the day the newly elected Government takes power. She is constitutionally barred from being President, as she was married to a non-Burmese person, the Military regimes final attempt of control.

There is no-one better that sums up International Women's Day than Aung San Suu Kyi.
Who would you like to have dinner with tonight?

Linking with Warm Heart Wednesday
Thank you, Jenny

Monday, 7 March 2016

Goodbye Smiling Sally

Dear Sally
I'm sending you some Aussie flowers
and I know you are looking down and smiling.

I've chosen these beautiful and tough plants that adorn many a Melbourne driveways and paths for you today and I know you'd approve of their blue colour. These are the perfect Aussie flowers and I have just realised that I do not have enough of them in my garden. In your honour, I shall plant some for you. They tell me they are low maintenance whilst making a flamboyant statement with their bird attracting flowers - perfect!

Agapanthus: Australian Blue perennial flower

Blue Monday was one of the first memes I joined as Little Wandering Wren and I enjoyed my regular visits. Australia with its rich blue skies offered many opportunities to participate and Sally was always quick to respond with her lovely encouraging comments. Many of my favourite blogs have been found through Blue Monday and I was very sad to read Sally's final post. You can find it here

Ocean beach: Mornington Peninsula, Vic, Australia
Goodbye, Sally.
 I'll leave you with Sally's final words and I say: 
thank you, Sally, and I very much hope I will be able to take you up on your final linky offer!

"I've enjoyed my time with you and I hope to see you in Heaven!"

Smiling Sally

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Beautiful Game

We're just gearing up for the start of the 2016 Australian Winter football season.

Move over cricket, here come the soccer players!

After what seems to have been the shortest pre-season ever, 
 it didn't help being away for all the warm -up matches,
 yesterday was Round One of the Victorian Women's National Premier League.
So it's football boots on and off we go!

Ha! Well, that's, of course, the right royal "we", I'm just the crazy soccer Mum.
This season looks to be calmer than last year when our family were either 
playing, coaching or assisting with seven matches over the course of a weekend.
No wonder I'm crazy, just keeping everyone fuelled for optimum performance
was a challenge and my workout!

The photo I'm sharing this weekend is from Myanmar
when we stumbled upon a village soccer tournament.
What do you see?

Village football Yangon, Myanmar
I love seeing the Beautiful Game being played around the world.
They might have no soccer boots, shin guards or socks but just look at the uniforms.
It might be a dust bowl of a pitch,
where no-one blinks an eyelid if a stray dog runs onto the pitch,
but just look at those smiles.

One of the teams I have worked with for the past four seasons is a team of people seeking asylum.
What they tell us is that when they play soccer,
they are not Asylum Seekers, they are football players.

There is a soccer quote that I love which says:
'Every time I step onto the pitch, all my troubles go away.
The only thing that matters on the pitch is the beautiful game.' (Anon)

And that, dear Bloggers, is why I am very happy to be a crazy soccer Mum!
I hope you have a lovely week.

Linking with My Sunday Photo