Mandarin Fish

August 31, 2009

mandarin-fish290.jpgSometimes there are leads in the inbox that take you to things you just have to share. Meet Synchiropus Spendidus, or Mandarin Fish. Most splendid indeed.

Sydney Flora

August 30, 2009

fringe-myrtle290.jpgWe tend to think of the Australian environment as a pretty harsh and unforgiving one. And its bush as monochrome, brittle dry and full of things that bite. All true enough. But spring is a comin’ and some of the smaller, finer and daintier elements of the flora scene are out to impress right now.Like this Fringe Myrtle. And a couple of others below. Read more

Bantry Bay – Middle Harbour

August 30, 2009

bantry-bay290.jpgNamed after an Irish bay in southern Ireland, Bantry Bay in Sydney is an odd spot. Standing on “the Bluff” at its head you can see Sydney CBD in the middle distance and aircraft letting down into Mascot. If you are paying attention you can just see the top of the Harbour Bridge. You would think idyllic waters this close to the city would be heavily populated and built around but it remains isolated and green despite the residential areas surrounding it and its proximity to the city. The area was used as a munitions storage area from WW1 through WW2 and into the 1970s when it was finally closed. Apparently still contaminated by explosives the old facilities are closed to the public but walking tracks get you close. And if you own a hull you can of course drift in here on a balmy late winter Sunday afternoon that feels more like early summer, drop anchor and break out the chardonnay.  There is something surreal about this sort of idyll in the midst of the city. It is one of Sydney’s best kept secrets. But now you know.

The Hero of Mboto Gorge?

August 23, 2009

ross_wibble290.jpgFamily is, well family. And you love them regardless of what they stick up their nostrils. And you love them when they are prancing around in Nepal impressing the Gurkhas with just how barmy their officers really are. But let’s face it there is far too much vanilla out there and not enough Spike Milligan, and Lord knows we all need some Milligan dosed out daily in large measure if we are to retain our sanity. (If you are completely perplexed about what Ross is up to, reference Blackadder here). Apologies to Rhys for nicking his photo off his Facebook page – I will plead insanity(implant pants and insert pencils as proof). And thanks Ross – for being Ross! And for the laugh, sorely needed.

Citizenship Jingoism?

August 23, 2009

citizenship_ceremony290.jpgSurprised myself by discovering not so. My own ceremony was held with a small handful of others in the office of some Melbourne based Minister. I can’t recall who he was. Last week I attended a citizenship ceremony in North Sydney and discovered it was a quite emotive and sentimental affair. I lost track of the number of nationalities but every continent was represented by teary and emotive people, some pictured here wanting a picture of themselves with the mayor. (Who I have to say did an excellent job of making a group ceremony special to each person). Even someone from Iceland. I enjoyed every minute as an observer but was surprised by the Mayor who suggested those of us existing citizens might like to reaffirm our “vows.” It was a special moment, all the more poignant for its unexpectedness. Indeed, it was almost enough to have me learn the words of our national anthem.

Vale Betty

August 15, 2009

betty_nelson290.jpgSorry, a more creative title is not being released by the muse tonight. But that is okay since I might otherwise risk a corny heading to a sober note. Not too sober though, since Betty had a roguish sense of humour and would accuse me of a put on sobriety if I got too serious. We farewelled her in a packed church service yesterday. It was nice to have people who knew her for 30, or 40 or even sixty years talk about the “old times.”  But it was a shame no one mentioned the “new times”  – Betty, in her eighties though you would not guess it if observing her zest and energy, had a genuine interest in and love for our young folk. Each year we cart 30 or 40 of them off for a weekend camp and Betty and her husband loved to mix it up with them. There was no intergenerational condescension. Just a love of sharing life with all of us, even teenagers she did not really know. We saw pictures of lots of amazing things she did over the years, especially her work on behalf of the world’s poor. But this photo captures for me the heart of Betty – away on a weekend and dressed up for kitchen duty with Peter, one of our very fine teens.  Everyone who had anything to do with Betty,even in the new times, are all the richer for the experience.