Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Great Adventure

After what seemed like a very long time to wait our family holiday has now arrived!
We left Adelaide on a sunny but cold winters day and a mere 27 hours later (!) arrived in London.
It is 25 years since I have been here, and at that time was living and working here.
First impressions are of little change but I haven't yet seen any of the new Iconic buildings.

We arrived at 6 am 2 days ago to a beautiful summers day, and hung out around St Paul's for a few hours as we couldn't get into our Bethnal Green airbnb flat for a few hours. That turned into several hours in the bank after the ATM ate Fishermans card at first attempt!
View of St Paul's from Paternoster Square

Eventually we got the card back and found our way to Kate's charming little flat. It is a very comfortable home for our time here and really suits us.

The flats were originally public housing build in 1900.

They are built around a central courtyard that once would have had lines strung across it hung with washing, it's very "Call the Midwife". 
There is a lovely community of people living in the flats with young families and children playing in the courtyard and clearly some keen gardeners. At the end of the courtyard is the local primary school.

Yesterday we went to the British Museum. It was very busy of course and overwhelming as it tends to be. We looked at lots of Egyptian and Greek artefacts  and an interesting Japanese exhibit. There was a large Indiginous art exhibition but in fact it was on at the South Australian Art Gallery several years ago and we saw it then so we didn't go back.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Autumn, Melancholy, and Gratitude.

Autumn is here and I am feeling melancholy.

We have had a very sad and sudden loss in our family, we are in a time of private grief and deep concern for those most deeply affected.

At the same time there is so much sadness and horror in the wider world that frequently it seems overwhelming.

Fisherman returned from a trekking trip to Nepal less than 2 weeks before the devastating earthquake occurred there, and many of the places he went and people that he met are now gone. We have donated through Plan and Oxfam but it seems such an inadequate response. 

The horror that the deeply twisted philosophy of IS inflicts on our world is on the radio,TV and Internet daily, with a sense of helplessness to assist those in its path.

Very close to home the senseless and cruel executions in Indonesia have effected many of us deeply, as have the proposed forced closures of many remote Indiginous communities.

It can be challenging to be mindful, to focus on the positives, to be grateful. 
But in truth I have many, many things to be grateful for.
The natural environment I live it, and the peace, security and prosperity of the place I call home.

My parents, and the loving stable upbringing I had

My extended family,mmy partner and children and all my kind and supportive friends.
(The little ones are rather large now)

Not to mention all the interesting and exciting activities I participate in.

We had some Festival fun.

I have been to WOMAD once again

I had a trip to Queensland in early March with a dear friend, some time for work and some to simply hang out.

And some special musical treats.
The Merrie Soul Sessions.

Paul Simon and Sting.

As well as this we have had precious family get togethers for Christmas, Easter, and several important family birthdays.


Fisherman and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary late last year with close friends with a very special dinner at the Salopian Inn in the  beautiful McLaren  Vale. 

 I have even been to the football ( last weekend) and witnessed a Port win.

So you can see that I lead a privileged life in so many, many ways and have much to be grateful for.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More Fun in Ubud

The writers and Readers Festival may have been over but the fun continued in Ubud. We moved over to the lovely Kabun Indah and stayed initially in the Teahouse Room. Lovely and with a truely amazing bathroom.

This is the view from the veranda.

On the day of the major ceremony we bought sarongs from a lovely young woman in a shop on Jalan Monkey Forest. She had decorated the water feature out the front. She also showed us how to tie the sarong and sash properly.

It was really unclear what time things were happening for the Ceremony. The major Ubud ceremony associated with Ganung Labah proceeded up the Main Street to the market and then back again and was very spectacular. As luck would have it we arrived at the market at precisely the moment everyone had to sit and the prayers began.

Shortly after the procession went back up the Main Street to the temple.

That night there was a complete eclipse of a full moon. This is called a blood moon as the moon looks red. You can't really see it in my poor picture below! 
This was the reason for the ceremony and 80% of the more than 4000 temples on Bali had a ceremony on the 9th of October.

Because of the significance of this event most of the villages were highly decorated.

The Balinese philosophy as discribed to us by our drivers Astra and Ronnie, as well as many others ( it seems that all Balinese are up for a philosophical/ spiritual discussion as soon as they know you are interested) involves daily rituals and giving thanks for life, the earth and all good things. There are obligations and rituals involving family, the village and the wider community in Bali, very much the idea of the Middle path, and a great capacity to not get emotionally caught up in everyday problems. When one becomes an adult in Balinese society at the age of 17, the tooth filing ceremony is held. This shows that you are a person and not an animal and that you will show self control against "the six enemies" I am not clear what they all are but it sounds much like the seven deadly sins and includes excessive lust, greed, gluttony and overwork.

The day after the ceremony we took a drive through the beautiful Sideman valley with Ronnie.

Great views of Agung from the Warung where we had lunch.

We went through a village that smelled fantastic. This is all cloves drying by the side of the road.

We visited a hand loomed fabric shop and did make quite a few purchases. The fabric is beautiful.

It was hard to say goodbye to Bali but I need to get back to my family and I know I will be back one day.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2014

We have had a wonderful time attending sessions and special events at the festival. There is so much happening in addition to the writers talks, music, art exhibitions, book launches, poetry slams, traditional craft workshops, film evenings it just goes on and on and is quite overwhelming. I'm pretty tired by the evenings.

There were a number of very interesting panel discussions, this one above about "Wide Awake Language" with Sjon, Bunyamin Fasya, Eleanor Limprecht and Eimear McBride was probably my favourite, although the final session I attended with Michael Cathcart interviewing Amitav Ghosh was also wonderful. I was really looking forward to the sibling panel discussion yesterday but sadly there wasn't much discussion of sibling relationships. Still a thrill to hear Eimear McBride, Akhil Sharma and Cyrus Mistry read from their books. Akhil Sharma "We are spiritual beings having a human experience". He also talked about not knowing how much we love the ones around us until they are gone.

We went to a special event lunch with Robyn Davidson, she has had a full and challenging life.

Also to the Travellers Lunch with Tim Cope, Tim Flannery and Colin Thubron. Great stories from them all.

Panel discussion on Motherhood but the discussion that the four of us had over lunch was more interesting I think.

There has been enough time for relaxing

Looking at the views


Wandering about

and shopping

Today is the last full day at the wonderful Alam Jiwa

What a wonderful treat.