Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Spring - when does it start?

When I was a child in Holland, Spring began on 21 March. When I was a teenager in Tasmania, Spring began on 21 September. We are now told in Australia that Spring begins on 1 September. Confused? I don't blame you. But it appears that the Media is very influential in setting dates for the seasons. Well, as for me, this BLOG is about Spring starting TODAY, which is the 21 September 2006, because that is how I was taught in Australian Schools and the teachers can't be wrong!

Spring has that lovely feeling of new life. Winter is over and the grounds are bursting with energy to show off its creativity with blossoms and spring flowers like daffodils. Oh yes, the weeds also think it is party time, but we will restricts ourselves with the beauty of new creation that is springing forth in our own garden. Carol is just inspecting the front garden that we have turned into a 'native' garden:On her right is the most beautiful show of a Native Mint bush: Let's get a closer look at this magic colour:There are a variety of Banksias, including this delightful one which is so soft to touch:This one on the other hand is quite hard but very impressive:This Grevillea is a great ground cover and requires very little watering.The Native Wax Flower along our boundary is also showing its worthThis morning, our Wisteria was showing its gratitude from a solid prune back during winter:And finally, a selection, just picked, from our own garden:
When I look at the power of NEW LIFE, I am grateful to God for every day surrounded by love, living in a peaceful corner of this planet. At the same time, I am mindful of the hatred, terrorism and distress of peoples around the world that we see on our TV screens every day. How I wish the world is otherwise and would recognise the gifts of God especially His offer of NEW LIFE in Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 18, 2006

September - Birthday month

September is our biggest month for birthdays. It all starts on 2 September when our eldest twins - Ann & Vicki celebrate their birthdays. This is followed on 6 September with two grandchildren being recognised - Nigel and his cousin Thomas. Then on 11 September (a day that will always be remembered) it is grandson Michael's turn, followed the next day with granddaughter Gemma's. As I write this chapter in our lives, we have just celebrated Ellie's 3rd birthday and for the sake of ease, celebrated her brother Joe's first birthday, which actually falls on 23 September. And that is still not the end! This coming Saturday it will be the big 21st birthday celebration for granddaughter Karina Sally whose actual birthday is the 25th. Yep, that is a total nine!!! And we try to remember them all.

It is always a lot of fun joining in with the celebration of the grandchildren especially and this afternoon we shared the occasion with Ellie and Josiah. Some of these pics are really cute. So, here we go.

"Hi, I am Ellie and I am having my third birthday today!""And my dad and mum put this party together for me. Mummy's is studying the recipe and daddy is acting the goat.....""But, they are getting it together":"Grandma was also on hand and of course joined the party." "We're having fun and eating things we don't normally get. You can see my little brother Joe who is celebrating his first birthday. He can stand up now and will soon be chasing with me.""Hmmm. I wonder whether that is really good for me.""I'll give it a try, but as you can see, I'll try and be ladylike":
"Well, it does seem that mum approves, judging by the benevolent look on her face":"As you can see, my brother Luke is all spark. He loves parties":"As mentioned earlier, my brother Joe is celebrating his first birthday with me. Mum & Dad got a cake for him and looking at the next photo, it seems to me that dad would like to have it for himself. Perhaps, it is the train that he has his eye on.""Oh no you don't dad", says Joe, "That is mine. Mum, tell him that it's my train and my cake and my party!""Ah, now we are coming to the real thing. That is beginning to look like my birthday cake. But, what is that? A Barbie doll on an icecream cone? That is really cool. Not sure whether Barbie can cope with this for long"."I am still not sure about this combination. Will Barbie melt?""A closer inspection is definitely necessary........"Hah...I love it mum. This is just so cute ....and so cool!""But now time for the real action. Opening my presents. Yeh!!!!!" "Hey Grandma, I can do it myself""Wow, will you have a look at that. A Parasol just for me.""It sure is cute!"


Monday, September 11, 2006

The '2 dollar' China Tour - Shanghai

This amazing tour is heading to its conclusion! Shanghai was done in two parts and included a variety of different activities, including visiting a school, the best oriental garden of the tour, night lights and ascending the fourth tallest building in the world.

Our first impression of Shanghai was that of a very modern and busy city with massive that appeared more western than most cities we visited in Asia. Actually, it put Carol in mind of some of the old Flash Gordon sci-fi comics.It is obvious that this is the business heart of China - it certainly showed. But, there was culture and history to observe, including a visit to the cultural museum.Up the escalator and again signs caught our attention:Once up, the view from the top was worth another picture: But we came to see collections of the past and on this occasion would like to show you a couple of art pieces. The picture of these old men playing Mahjong won me and I remembered with much enjoyment sitting with another group of old men in Dali as they played this game::The following gives a little background to the above 'scroll' which is of course about the mighty Yangtze River:But I also wanted to put the 'ancient' in touch with us 'moderns' today:So what better comparison than Carol!

A visit to the Bund during the day was rather disappointing, but provided a great opportunity for a photo-shoot.And here are a couple of shots with great folk whose company we enjoyed for over three weeks:A visit to the TV tower was pretty impressive:A total change of 'PACE' was a trip on the new fast train to the airport. And is the fastest train in the world!It was fast! Some wanted to sit on the side where they could view the passing of the train coming from the opposite direction! Hah! It was a split fraction of a second as we just felt a whoosh and the moment was gone.A visit to the Children's Palace was a delight. (Wonder why they call it Children's Palace?) Just note Carol, the music teacher, taking careful notice.It was lovely to see the kids together with, what I believe, was a parent:Just love this next shot:Careful tuning by this youngster - she seemed too small to handle the instrument!To get a real feel for the place, we all went back to school and our behaviour was of course exemplary (all good little children):The artwork from children was really nice and creative:After that, a look at the ballet class and, as you can see, kids really are the same everywhere. Us mob from left Greg, Graham, Phil, Carol, Pat, Chris, Barry, the teacher, Beryl and on the floor - looking as though she wants to join in, Sandra:The kids certainly played up for the cameras and the 'big noses':All this stuff makes for hungry people and we were certainly being looked after by the tour. Perhaps, it would have been nice as a change, to sample the local dishes that the city workers indulged in, like Shanghai dumplings. And just like in Oz, fast-food outlets are well advertised and very popular:The last afternoon was set aside for a visit to the Yu Gardens. Most of the party however wanted a last chance to do some shopping, which left only us two plus Chris and Graham to go with our local guide to visit the garden. And what a delight awaited us!! This was the most outstanding garden we visited in China and with just four of us, were able to do this at a most leisurely pace:As we entered the gardens we did so in style - almost like a bridal couple entrance!It was clear that Chris enjoyed this lovely spot.
And here we are with just the four of us:Signs have intrigued us throughout this tour, and here is yet another worth publishing - never heard the toilet referred to as the 'Chamber of 10,000 flowers' before (impressive). Perhaps a separate sign for the toilets would have been more appropriate - or perhaps not everyone has our twisted sense of humour.:Rather than follow the signs, just follow us as we share a small sample of photos with you - and there heaps more:Carol is looking very comfortable...though the fish thought she was going to feed them.To top off this special afternoon, we were entertained by musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments, most of which were made from porcelain, including beautiful stringed instruments, flutes and bells. This concert was a real bonus, much enjoyed by us. What a fantastic trip we have had!! is time to say our goodbyes. The first photo is from left Beryl & Barry, Helen & Colin, Ricki & Phil and Tony:The second photo saying 'Cheers' and 'Hope to see you again', standing from left Chris, me, Faye (you beaut!), Greg & Graham. Seated Julie, Christine, Carol & Pat.So, let's celebrate in style with a night drive that really was something:And what about the waterfront!!Our boat cruise was cancelled, I think by government order (boats were commandeered for other official visitors). Instead, we were treated to a visit to the fourth tallest building in the world and thoroughly enjoyed the views from the top.

For us, it was an early start the following morning to travel by train to Nanjing for a special add-on. That will be the next chapter on our blog. Feel free to tune in and share our special enjoyment in that place. Many thanks to everyone on the tour. You are a great bunch of people and we appreciated your company!