“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Monday 31 January 2011

Re-united at last....

So the outcome of both the Tennis and the Cricket on Sunday, wasn't quite what I wanted and probably the least said the better really, but I'm okay.

The main reason being, I've just been reunited with my laptop again....Yeah!

It's got a clean bill of health once more and although things look slightly different, I'm trying to re-familiarise myself. I'll just get back to re-installing etc but thought this beautiful orchid photo I took over the weekend had to be posted. I hope you like it too.

I just love the way the afternoon light coming in from the hallway highlighted it.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Australian Tennis Open - Men's Final

On the hottest day of the year so far here in Melbourne, a Scotsman is about to take up the biggest challenge of his career to date. Andy Murray (5) will take on Novak Djokovic (3) in the Grand Final of the 2011 Australian Tennis Open.
As a pre-match warm up (pardon the pun) we'll be watching the ODI Cricket between Australia and England in Brisbane, where all proceeds today will go to the Queensland flood victims.
I can't believe that since I've arrived in Australia I've become such a sports fan.
Well, when the temperature soars its best to just settle down in AC comfort with good food, cool drinks and relax.
Andy, but we'll be watching and keeping everything crossing in the hope that you don't melt!
Here's a little Scottish pre-match trivia ......
The prickly purple thistle was adopted as the Emblem of Scotland during the rein of Alexander III (1249 -1286). Legend has it that an Army of King Haakon of Norway, intent on conquering the Scots landed at the Coast of Largs at night to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen removed their footwear.
As they drew near to the Scots it wasn't the only thing hiding under the cover of darkness. For one of Haakon's men unfortunately stood on one of these spiny little defenders and shrieked out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the advancing Norsemen. Needless to say the Scots who won the day.
We wish you luck...." GO ANDY......."

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Australia Day

Its Australia Day here today.....
On Australia Day the nation comes together to celebrate what's great about Australia and being Australian. It's the day to reflect on what's been achieved and what Australian's can be proud of. Its the day for people to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.

(Kangaroos belong to a group of marsupials called macropods, which means 'great footed animals'. Macropods have strong back legs with long feet. They hop on their back legs when travelling, using the muscular tail as a balance. Hopping in this way is an energy-efficient way of travelling long distances. Their front legs are small. When moving slowly, usually as they graze or to change position, the tail and front legs prop up the animal, and the back legs move forward.. this is called 'crawl walking'.
Kangaroos are good swimmers, and will sometimes escape a threat by going into water if it is nearby.
Kangaroos feed in the late afternoon and early morning, spending the day resting in shade. In hot weather they scrape the ground with their front paws and lie in the cooler earth they have exposed. Kangaroos do not sweat, so in the heat they lick their front paws and rub the moisture onto their chests to cool down).

(The koala gets its name from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning "no drink" because it receives over 90% of its hydration from the Eucalyptus leaves (also known as gum leaves) it eats, and only drinks when ill or times when there is not enough moisture in the leaves. ie during droughts etc.
The koala is the only mammal, other than the Greater Glider and Ringtail Possum, which can survive on a diet of eucalyptus leaves).

Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788.

(Echidnas also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals )

Though 26 January marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: the diverse society and landscape, remarkable achievements and bright future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on the nation's history, and to consider how to make Australia an even better place in future.

(Mitchell's Cockertoo - Cacatua leadbeateri. 35-40cm
One of the most beautiful Australian cockatoos, plumaged in delicate tints of pink and white with a display of fiery colour when the crest is raised; colour most effective in flight, showing pink underwings, or at landing, when the wings are lifted and the crest is spread to show the colour bands. Shallow, quick, erratic wingbeat action is interrupted by brief glides. Usually travels by brief low flights, often landing in trees to break the journey into shorter stages. In pairs, small family parties, rarely large flocks; at times intermingles with Galahs or Little Corellas).

On Australia Day, over half of the nation’s population of 21 million attend either an organised community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating their national day. Many more spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.

(Tawny Frogmouth Scientific name: Podargus strigoides
An Australian variety of frogmouth, a type of bird found throughout the Australian mainland, Tasmania and southern New Guinea. The Tawny Frogmouth is often thought to be an owl but its neither an Owl or a Frogmouth, the Australian Owlet is in acutal fact a " Nightjar")

So whatever you are doing today.....have a great time.

(Kookaburras (genus Dacelo) are large to very large (total length 28–42 cm/11–17 in) terrestrial kingfishers native to Australia Kookaburras are best known for their unmistakable call, which sounds uncannily like loud, echoing human laughter — good-natured, but rather hysterical, merriment in the case of the renowned Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae); and maniacal cackling in the case of the slightly smaller Blue-winged Kookaburra (D. leachii). They are generally not closely associated with water, and can be found in habitats ranging from humid forest to arid savanna, but also in suburban and residential areas near running water and where food can be searched for easily).

I'm away to enjoy the day, and this evening we're off to the Australian Tennis Open!
How cool is that?

Monday 24 January 2011

Riding off into the Sunset.....

I give in....my laptop appears to be sick and in need of help, so I've booked an appointment for a checkup this morning....

I love my laptop but after hours of painful TLC yesterday admit defeat. Nothing gets me more worked up than when these contraptions don't want to play. Yep, that's how angry I was - no more luveyduvy words until its fixed. Harsh I know.

I'm hope its nothing too serious though because I would be devastated.
I really hope that I won't be riding off into the sunset......never to be seen again....I was just getting into this blogging life!

My laptop is two years old and used soooooooooooo much, I suppose its time for a health check.
You just get so used to them being there and doing what you ask.
Wish us luck.....

Sunday 23 January 2011

Lazy Sunday's

Don't you just love lazy Sunday's?

I know Muffin does.....

She had been extremely active and enthusiastic on her morning walk so hence the
'pooped pooch look'

Friday 21 January 2011

Girlie Getaway...

When I received an invitation to join my friend at her beach house at Point Leo, I couldn't resist. Before the guilt and excuses as to why I shouldn't go set in, I just packed a bag and set off.

The drive was perfect and it was so great to get out of the city to the open countryside.

As soon as I arrived my friend and another girlfriend were standing out to greet me. I was flattered that they were so excited to see me until I realised it wasn't just me arriving. They pointed up into the tree above my car and look who was there.....

Snoozing in the afternoon sun....a beautiful Koala.

Its the first time that I've seen one out in the wild.

There was also a kookaburra laughing nearby....what a welcome.

This was all within the first five minutes of arriving and was worth the drive alone....

Fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, clear cool water, good company - what more could you want?

With hindsight maybe I shouldn't have told you where this beach was situated.....

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Willy Wagtail

I feel victorious today, because I've finally won a personal battle
- what might that be I hear you wonder -
a 10k run, a sky dive or learnt to play a particularly difficult piano concerto? Unfortunately none of the above.
I've been challenged by a 'Willy Wagtail'! (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Pathetic I know, but you have no idea how long I've tried to catch him on camera.
Every afternoon he visits my bird bath, loudly chirping his arrival and you can bet as soon as I reach for my camera, he's away....

This has gone on for months...

But today I got him!

It took stealth-like athleticism to reach the decking door, without detection before he took flight.

Numerous times I've just given up, but I never like to lose a challenge and I just couldn't ignore this one.

I have such renewed appreciation for all the wildlife photographers out there, that can spend days, weeks, months and even years to obtain that particular shot. I just wish my photographs were of their calibre

A quick splash.....

Then up, up and away
I can rest easy now when he visits and enjoy his antics...

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Get your lovely lemons.....

I wish you could have seen my other half's eyes light up yesterday, when a friend came to call with a huge bag of lemons from the tree in their garden.
I could see his mind calculating how many potential lemon tarts could be made from the bag.
They certainly put my little tree into the shade.....
They are sooooooo juicy, smell really amazing
and they were HUGE!
For the classic Lemon Tart recipe see my previous blog August 2010

Monday 17 January 2011

Hedgeley Dene Gardens

I had enormous pleasure showing my daughter one of my favourite walks recently.

Hedgeley Dene Gardens ticked all the boxes for me, right from my first meanderings. Beautifully kept gardens, trees, flowers, wildlife and manicured lawns, stretching invitingly before you and all within an easy stroll from coffee shops and cafes. What more could you want?

Each time I visit, there's always something new to see and admire.

The bridge gave shelter from the hot sun to a mother and her four ducklings......

And here's the star of the show.......
For more information and the history of Hedgeley Dene Gardens

Friday 14 January 2011

Queensland Floods

I feel compelled to comment on the absolutely unbelievable events that have been unfolding in Queensland over the last week or so. Some of the stories and news footage are heart wrenching but at the same time I've been so impressed with the Australian spirit.

These photo's were taken of the creek near our home. Hearing the fast flowing water and seeing it rise and fall so quickly just doesn't compare but it is a reminder of what people are having to suffering in Queensland at the moment.

Also spare a thought and prayer for the Brazil and Sri Lanka victims.
What is happening to the world?

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Kriss Kringle Kindle

I should have started off this years blog with my exciting news....

I'm now the proud owner of a kindle! Thanks to my very generous daughter.

I've been wanting one for quite a while, but held back because like her, we both love the physicality of books. But I have to say I'm really finding it fascinating. It's so exciting.....
I've been able to sample books, before purchasing, which is a brilliant marketing tool, but it works for me too, and its so user friendly.
I chose a book and hit the button and within a minute up it popped on my kindle.
Wow...it was impressive!

If your a book fanatic and love to read then I can recommend you give it a try.

My favourite author at the moment is Ken Follett. I adored his 'Pillars of the Earth' and 'World without End' and am about to start 'Fall of Giants'.

If you have any book recommendations then I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Reading

Date and Walnut Cake

I have no wish to spoil anyone's New Years resolution for cutting down on eating cakes, honestly, but I have this delicious Date and Walnut cake recipe I'd like to share with you. It has been a firm favourite of mine for a number of years. And I don't particularly like walnuts!
I just can't resist having a slice fresh from the oven - it smells and tastes devine.

It's really easy to make, keeps well and is handy to produce if anyone just happens to drop in for a cuppa.

I remember when I worked in the Middle East and took this cake into the office for our tea breaks, it was a big hit. Which, when you consider the different cultures, tastes and preferences between the staff was quite a feat. They all enjoyed it so much, that upon leaving, I had to pass on the recipe plus a whole loaf each!

Well, if your wanting a healthy start to 2011 aren't walnuts and dates are good for you....?

I'd like to state here and now that this egg is from a happy hen or as they say here in Australia, a happy chuck! In fact all my eggs come from 'happy chucks'

Sit back and enjoy - perfect for afternoon tea
It also goes well with coffee.

Recipe for Date and Walnut Cake

6oz (175g) Self Raising Flour
4oz (110g) Butter
4oz (110g) Sugar
1 Egg
5oz (150g) Dates
4oz (110g) shelled Walnuts
A little milk

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Place softened butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream together.
3. Add egg.
4. Sift flour a little at a time into the mixture.
5. Add dates and walnuts. A little milk can be added at this stage until the mixture is a creamy consistancy. It shouldn't need too much milk.
6. Place mixture in a greased floured baking loaf tin.
7.Place in pre-heated oven for 40 to 45 mins depending on oven.
When the cake is golden and firm to the touch in the centre of the tin, its ready.

I do hope you enjoy it.

Monday 10 January 2011

Happy New Year to you all


New year with a new look to my blog. I hope you like the new header.

I've got lots of plans for the coming months and hope to share them all with you.

To kick things off I thought I'd just share this photo with you. I loved the texture, pattern and colour of the bark with the orange flower behind. It was taken by my daughter whilst visiting on one of our doggy walks. As you can see, her camera is superior than mine!
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