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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

ANZAC Day, Australia


April 25th in Australia and New Zealand is ANZAC Day, a national holiday. It commemorates the day in 1915 that Australian and New Zealander soldiers landed in The Dardanelles in Turkey as part of an ill conceived campaign by the British against the Turks. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps as at the time there was no separate Australian and New Zealand army, this happened later in World War I.

Australia lost a huge proportion of its young men in World War I (which also affected its demographics as many young women in the 1920s never married, there simply weren't the men around to marry) and as soon as the war ended there was a push for memorials to the war dead.

Communities around Australia raised money for these memorials and they can be seen today. Many of them have been restored and names added onto them of the losses in conflicts after World War I. It's something I've noticed travelling around Australia, the memorials are always around, and with ANZAC Day having just occurred I thought I would post some of the memorials I've photographed in the past few months.

The Adelaide War Memorial, with the wreaths from the Dawn Service (6am the time of the original landing in Turkey in 1915) picture taken the afternoon of ANZAC Day. The memorial has 3 people, a woman, a scholar and a farmer looking up to the Angel of Death as he claims them. (The other side has the Angel of Mercy, a bit more positive!)

The Port Douglas (far north Queensland) memorial, which can be found in hundreds of small country towns, the soldier resting on his rifle. The ball in the background is a sea mine, the names at the front are from World War I and then names were added later those who lost their lives in other wars and were from Port Douglas.

Some places erected Remembrance Arches, these are rarer. This one is located in the Adelaide suburb of Brighton and has been restored. Originally for those who died in World War I, it has names from such recent conflicts as Iraq and Afghanistan.

About an hour through the Adelaide Hills and you come to the farming town of Strathalbyn, it was a fairly prosperous town so their memorial reflects that. There's still a soldier, but the memorial is more substantial with brass reliefs around it. The town had its commemorations on Monday and there are various wreaths from that ceremony.

Last year was the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs landing in Turkey and it seems the Strathalbyn council set about establishing a permanent memorial, this hedging is on the river bank just below the war memorial.

The Goolwa memorial, again is a soldier, this memorial has red poppies around it. Poppies tend to be the symbol for Remembrance Day which is in November, the day the Armistice was signed (11th hour, 11th day, 11th month) but they are starting to be used for ANZAC Day as well. The ANZAC Day symbol that's worn is rosemary as in "Rosemary for remembrance" so people pin a sprig of rosemary on their lapel.

When I looked at the poppies closely I saw that they were knitted, it may have been a community project to make them.

Some small towns went with a memorial garden which is what Middleton has now. Middleton would have been a tiny place in the early 20th century and yet the community still lost young men. From the names on the plaque it seems as though there was 2 sets of brothers.

For "King and Country" was very much the rallying cry, for many young Australian men it was also the lure of adventure which saw them signing up to go fight. They thought that the war would be over in 3 months and they would be able to leave Australia, have an interesting adventure in some foreign lands and then return home. That was not the case for most of them. (The majority never returned and are buried in those foreign lands)

It was thought as the World War I generation aged and died that commemorations for fallen soldiers would fade away, but that hasn't happened at all. Infact the numbers of people attending the commemorations have increased, the Port Elliot memorial has the original 1920s very simple memorial (reflective perhaps that that there wasn't much spare money in the community as it an obelix shape, next to it is a more recent memorial to all service personnel, army, navy and airforce.

The Soldiers Memorial Gardens in Victor Harbor, the smaller cross commemorates Australians who fought in the Battle of Long Tan in the Vietnam War, it's replica of the cross they erected there. The bigger cross is for this who died in World War II, members of the local community who died in World War I are listed at the entrance on a separate monument, which is very new so a restoration of what had originally been placed there I think.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Gardens by the Bay Lightshow

Gardens by the Bay Lightshow


Last night I went off to see the lights at Gardens by the Bay. I had seen another person's pictures of the 'trees' lit up and wanted to see it myself. A surprise then followed as I found out that you don't just see a static display but there's a light show synchronised to music as well!

Once it gets dark, the trees are lit up, it's a very popular activity for people to participate in, lots of families wandering around.

The Marina Sands Hotel room lights in the background.

The skywalk remains open and there are people (lots of yelling children!) up there.

Once it's completely dark, the lights went out on all the trees. My first thought was "Oops something went wrong!" A few minutes later and announcement came over the PA "Ladies and Gentlemen tonight's lightshow will pay tribute to musical theatre" And then it began!

The lightshow was wonderful and it lasted about 30 minutes, it's on every night and I'd put it on the top of the list of the best things to do in Singapore. And all free!

On the way back to the Marina Sands, I managed to get a good picture of the Singapore Flyer from the overhead walkway.

Gardens by the Bay are easy to get to, the MRT stop is Bayfront and then just follow the signs through the underground walkways to the gardens.

Friday, 22 April 2016

I've been in China

China visit

I've spent the last week in China or as I've started referring to it "The Land of Blocked Internet"!! Flew into Singapore last night (The Land of Unblocked Internet) and I have access to my blog again!

Managed to take this picture at dusk flying to Singapore, there's no colour correction this was the colour of the sky as darkness fell.

I've been to China before so knew that certain sites, such as Facebook were blocked, what I didn't know was that the Chinese government had a fallout with the Google corporation so there's no access to any thing google. Including blogger! (gmail is blocked, so is the google search engine you have to use either yahoo or bing) The other blocked sites are Instagram (so no updating my pictures from China! Twitter and Youtube)

Expats who live in China all use a vpn (a virtual proxy network) to access those blocked sites but being there only for a few days I hadn't thought to download one (also discovered my phone had very little data storage on it! So couldn't download a vpn, serves me right for getting a cheap deal with the phone!) I could still use the internet and was fascinated to see what wasn't blocked (trashy news sites it seems were fine e.g. Dailymail (don't judge everyone has their little guilty pleasures!)

I missed Youtube as I tend to watch that in short bursts, reading the Chinese English language paper while I was there, I found out that China has their own version of youtube. The story I read was about a Chinese vlogger who is quite popular with her comedy videos, but she uses rude language in them (basically she swears) so her channel got taken down! She agreed not to swear and her channel was reinstated and in her latest video the paper reported there was "no saucy language" That's a direct quote! Amused me tremendously!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Goolwa, South Australia


Goolwa is another small town that is a popular holiday destination. It's about an hour from Adelaide so it's a convenient place for a weekend retreat. It's also a very popular town for people to retire to.

Originally though, Goolwa was established as an inland port, the first in Australia. In the mid 1800s, Australian waterways were the main way of transporting goods, paddle boats were used as the river was shallow. Goolwa is located at the end of the Murray River, just before it enters the ocean. The Murray mouth is dangerous for ships, it has ever changing sand bars and very shallow water, so it was far too perilous for ships to pass through the mouth to the ocean. Therefore goods were transported down the river to the wharf at Goolwa, unloaded and then loaded onto a train (the first ones were horse drawn trains) and taken to Port Elliot and then loaded onto sea going ships there. 

This little paddle steamer is the Oscar W, it's a restored paddle steamer that takes tourists for trips around the lake. It was built in 1908, I saw it as I was walking down to the wharf and tried to take a picture before it got too far away! The engine is a wood fired one and the when the steam is let out, it toots! I heard it before I saw it!

This old building was the customs house, at the time of the river trade, each colony could collect taxes (custom duties) on the goods that were transported. The local council now own this building and it's used for community events.

The Goolwa train station from where the goods were loaded onto train carriages and moved by rail to a sea port, first to Port Elliot and later to Victor Harbor. The station is still used as there's a little steam train that operates on Wednesdays and Sundays and during school holidays called "The Cockle Train" which makes round trips to Victor Harbor. It's a fun activity to do with children.

Down by the historic wharf area and near the train station are the old horse stables. Horse power was used to move the train carriages down the rail line to Port Elliot and these were the stables where the horses were kept. Eventually they were replaced by engines. The former stables became derelict and then after World War II they were restored and are used as an RSL (Returned Services League) a clubhouse for former military personnel.

Goolwa is a pretty little town with many old historic buildings so it's a popular destination for a Sunday drive.

More historic buildings! This had been the police station and courthouse, when a new one was built, the old buildings were turned into a regional arts centre.

I didn't stay here, just saw it as I walked past as it's in the main street. This B&B just looked so pretty and thought perhaps a future stay was in order! I did look it up and the house had been built by a headmaster of the Goolwa school and was used by subsequent headmasters until the 1980s! It then went into private hands and now has been converted into a B&B.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Aarhus, Denmark

Aarhus, Denmark

Aarhus (pronounced Oar-hus, I asked a Dane how to say it as I wasn't being understood when I said it. I was pronouncing it as 'Arh-hus') is the second largest city in Denmark and it's a major port and university town. I had a local connection as I went to visit a friend of a friend who lived just outside of Aarhus.

Driving into Aarhus I was taken past this traditional thatched roof house, naturally I did what any self-respecting tourist would do and called out "Stop! Please". Obliging friend did so and I have a nice picture!

In the outskirts of Aarhus is Marselisborg Palace, it belongs to the Danish queen and the royal family stay in it during their Easter holidays and a few weeks during the summer. It's an inhabited palace (more of a large stately home), but what really impressed me about it, is that when the royals aren't at the palace, the grounds are open to the public, for free. It's a local park for anyone who wants to spend time there. I was lucky that I was there a week before the Queen was due so could wander around the grounds, a week later the gates would have been shut and that's what I would have seen---closed gates!

Around the house are large expanses of lawn and there's a view of the Bay of Aarhus as well.

The backyard pool!

Part of the grounds, the actual palace is closed off but people can just wander around, picnic where they want. It was really lovely.

The herb garden close to the palace. There are interesting sculptures dotted around the grounds, both Queen Margrethe and her husband are very artistic. Her husband sculpts.

A pond with lillypads.

The canal that runs through the city, there are various cafes and restaurants along the canal. I liked that if you sat outside the chair would have a blanket for you incase you felt cold! The blanket was for you to cover your knees and you could tuck yourself in to the chair.

Aarhus has a really impressive art museum called ARoS, which was interesting to visit, particularly the modern art part of it. There's also a large cathedral, I visited both but didn't seem to take any photos!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Homemade pizza

Homemade pizza

With option for gluten free and or vegan.

Reading some other travel blogs I noticed that they have 'lifestyle' posts, food in particular. I thought "I can do that too!" and here's my first attempt. Dinner from the other night, homemade pizza.

Despite coming from a part of Europe where Italian cuisine was common, we had no family pizza recipes, the Italian food we ate was from northern Italy, so polenta rather than pizza. This recipe comes courtesy of my Italian language teacher from high school in Australia! It's quick and easy to make, so easy that I actually prefer to make the dough rather than using pre made dough, it's not the same!

The Ingredients

plain flour (Gluten free option, use non wheat flour)
dry yeast
mozzarella (vegan option use vegan cheese)
canned chopped tomatoes
canned chopped mushrooms
pitted olives

Dissolve one packet of dry yeast in about 200ml of warm water.

Place yeast mixture into a large bowl, add the plain flour in small amounts. Add a pinch of salt.

Keep adding the flour until the dough is firm enough to kneed, then kneed into a ball.

Place dough in a warm place and allow it to rise for 15 minutes. I put hot water in the sink and then place the bowl with the dough in the water and cover with a tea towel. (Tip, don't put too much water in the sink as the bowl can tip over!)

While waiting for the dough to rise, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a pizza oven tray, cut up the olives, open up the tinned ingredients.

After 15 minutes the dough should have doubled.

Place in the centre of the pizza tray, then with your fingers and heel of your hand spread the dough over the pizza tray.

Place the chopped tomatoes on the pizza base, spread to the edges of the dough.

Add whatever toppings you like, I used mushrooms and olives.

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese across the top.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, keep checking on it, the smell of fresh pizza will fill the kitchen and you'll see that it's ready to eat.

The finished pizza, slice it up and serve with a side salad. A healthy dinner!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg, Russia

It's a city that I really love, probably at the top of my favourite cities list. Sadly I've only visited once and it was a short visit. I went with my mother a few years back, she wanted to use that high school Russian she had acquired many (many!!) years beforehand. Mum had wanted to visit Russia for some time and I had got to the stage where I had become interested in seeing it as well. We went for a week and only visited St. Petersburg and Moscow, Moscow was interesting but St. Petersburg was beautiful. I just loved it!

The Hermitage Museum, it's huge! And the crowds are too, prebook your tickets and select a few rooms to see, otherwise you'll end up with art fatigue and never want to see another piece of art again! The Hermitage had been the Winter Palace for the Russian royals, the summers they spent out in the nearby countryside at Tsarkoe Selo, with the coming of the colder weather they would move back into the city.

The city is built on and around the Neva River, the church steeple in the centre belongs to the cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul which is situated on the Fortress of Sts Peter and Paul, an island.

A symbol of St Petersburg and its seafaring tradition, and a very popular site for wedding photos! A few were being taken when we were there!

The Fortress of Sts Peter and Paul with the cathedral where members of the Russian royal family are buried.

Inside the cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul.

St. Catherine's chapel in the cathedral, after the fall of communism the remains of the last Tsar and his family were interred in this chapel. (Although 2 were missing, Maria and the Tsarevich Alexei. Recently their remains were identified and interred in the chapel as well.) An interesting piece of trivia, to help with the identification of the remains, Prince Philip contributed DNA as the last Tsarina was his great-aunt. (His maternal grandmother's sister) The icon at the front represents the last Tsar and his family.

The Church of the Saviour of the Spilt Blood, it was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was fatally injured, he was taken back to the Winter Palace and died there. He was riding along the canal in his carriage when the attempt was made on his life. His death led to one of the great 'what ifs' of Russian history, he was quite progressive and was about to sign a constitution for Russia. His death put a stop to all the reforms he was about to implement and his son the new Tsar was quite an autocrat in contrast to his father. Had Alexander II survived would the course of history have been different for Russia, its people and the Russian royals?

The Church of St Isaac, under communism it was converted to a museum. With the fall of communism it reverted back to being a place of worship, with a chapel being used for regular services and other parts of the church are still a museum. During World War II, museum curators stored artworks from the Catherine Palace (which was under Nazi occupation) under the church.

We did a canal tour of the city, a great many of the buildings are back to their original grandeur. The guide pointed out that Vladimir Putin was from St Petersburg and he actively encouraged its restoration and made sure funds were in place to see that it happened!

Outside of St. Petersburg is the Catherine Palace. During World War II, this palace suffered a great deal of damage from the Nazi occupation. Its famous Amber Room was stripped and the amber shipped back to Germany, never to be seen again. The room has since been restored, to reach it you walk through a series of rooms, each one more ornately decorated than the last, until you come into the Amber Room, the most ornate of all. It was all to impress visitors of the wealth and power of the Russian royals.

The hotel we stayed was not in the central old part of the city, but outside of it and this monument was nearby. It's the monument to the people of the city, then called Leningrad, that was under siege by the Nazis during World War II. The city was cut off for over 800 days and over a million people died, mainly of starvation.

The guide pointed this out to us, it's a statue of Lenin, the only one left in St. Petersburg after the fall of communism. The others were all pulled down, this one remains and from memory it's in front of a 'peoples' congress hall'.

I was there is June and so got to experience the "white nights", we arrived at 11pm to bright daylight, the sun didn't set until 3am and it began to rise again at 5am. It was amazing to have such clear daylight so late into the night, I was told though that the winters were long and dark!

I got a small taste of St. Petersburg when I was there and am planning on going back, there is so much more to see!