Thursday, 24 February 2011

30 ...

There seems to be a lot of 'talk' about turning 30.  Everyone seems to want to know how you feel about entering your thirties.  If I'm honest with myself, I do have little (albeit infrequent) moments of panic where I worry about not being grown up enough - I haven't bought a house, gotten married or had children.  But ... I have done a lot of other things - I've lived in four different countries, made friends all over the world, have wonderful relationships with my family and have had so many varied life experiences.  Thinking about these amazing things makes me feel better ... there's plenty of time for houses, husbands and babies.  

The early years

Birthday in Geelong

I have had a fabulous time in my twenties and made so many wonderful friends and memories.  During my twenties, I've grown to feel more comfortable and confident in who I am.  I don't worry about what other people think and I try to do things for the right reasons.  For example, I'm quite happy to say that I don't like nightclubs or big parties, whereas I used to endure them just because it was what you 'had' to do in your twenties.  So, there will be no big 'thirtieth', just a few smaller celebrations.  The family I work for are taking me to lunch today and this evening, my Mum, who is visiting from Melbourne, and I are going to dinner and the theatre at the Opera House.  On Sunday, I'll be in Melbourne and celebrate with a small group at the 'Harvest Picnic at Hanging Rock'.

Birthday at Hanging Rock

Birthday party at M1NT in Shanghai

So, what will my fortieth decade bring?  Who knows ... all I know is that I'm going to enjoy every minute of life, travel as much as I can and nurture my friendships and family relationships all over the world.  What more could a girl want?

Birthday dinner at Uberfood in Wuxi

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fantasy ...

Fantasy was my first pony.  She was a present from Father Christmas when I was 8.  She was 21 when we got her, which is pretty old for a horse.  Fantasy was with our family for 16 years, so she lived to the grand old age of 37.  And, she was a feisty little pony to the end.  It was 6 years ago today that we followed through with the decision to end her life, as she battled with some kind of disease that caused her to lose a lot of weight.  It's a tough decision to make, to end a pet's life, but even tougher when the pet is a large one, as there are all sorts of practical issues to address.  Luckily for us, we were able to bury her, the pony that set off a life long addiction to horses, under a beautiful tree next to the Yarra River on my friend's property.  Fantasy was around in the days before digital cameras, but here are a few scanned snaps of our beloved first pony, Fantasy.

Rob and Fantasy at a show jumping day in Tassie

Rob and Fantasy in the fancy dress competition at Pony Club

Rob, Fantasy and Charlie on Five Mile Beach, Tassie

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Uighur food ...

On Friday night, I headed back to Chinatown with my lovely friend, Diane, where we enjoyed a delicious, filling (and cheap) dinner at a Uighur restaurant.  Eating the yummy meat pies, egg and leek pastries and stir fried eggplant bought back memories of my trip with Dad and his partner to the Muslim Quarter in Xian.  Here, we spent the evening roaming through the bustling alleyways, sampling the tasty treats on offer.  When we found a dish that looked appealing, we'd buy one serve, share it, and if it was good, buy another.  Most dishes were only $1-2 each.  Everything was super delicious ... except for maybe the glutinous rice desserts!

Busy kitchen

"Mmmm, do you think we should try this one?"

Another busy kitchen

Yummy, greasy Uighur food

Not so impressed with the glutenous rice puddings

Monday, 21 February 2011

Four weeks of fun ...

What I have to look forward to upon my arrive in Canada

My five month stint in Australia is drawing to a close, with less than four weeks left until I return to Canada.  But, what a fun four weeks they will be!  I've just returned from a wonderful weekend in Melbourne - a wedding, family, friends and too much eating and drinking.  Two of my three remaining weekends will also be spent in Melbourne - this weekend for my 30th (ahh!) and then two weeks later, there will be a visit for farewelling family and friends.  There is also a visit from several family members as well as a couple of trips to the theatre and movies on the cards.  With so many fun things coming up, the final four weeks are going to fly by ... but, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing - until October, I'm going to miss Australia.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

'Speaking in Tongues' ...

I've had my dear friend, Diane staying with me the past few nights and it's been great to have some girly, catch up time.  Last night, we went to see 'Speaking in Tongues', the play that inspired the famous Australian movie, 'Lantana'.  It was staged by the Griffin Theatre Company in the small (120 seats) and very cute Stables Theatre in Kings Cross.  It was an excellent performance, with just four actors (including the lovely Caroline Craig, of 'Blue Heelers' and 'Underbelly' fame) playing all the roles.  The use of the small stage was creative and, with such a small audience, it was a very intimate performance. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hao chi (delicious) ...

My favourite - mapo tofu (spicy tofu with mince meat)

C and I regularly talk about China ... me, because I miss it, and he, because he often travels there on work.  We often talk about Chinese food, so I was excited to go to Chinatown to share some of my favourite Chinese dishes with him.  We went to Red Chilli, a Sichuan restaurant right in the heart of Chinatown.  Although the food was nowhere near as tasty or spicy as it is in 'real' Sichuan country (right in the centre of China), it was still very delicious.  Mmmmm, hao chi!

Kung po chicken (chicken with peanuts and vegetables)

Green beans with pork mince

Typical Chinese dish (!) - stir fried kangaroo meat with chillis ... note also the top dish where the main ingredient is pork blood jelly ... mmm, hao chi!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Wombat Hill ...

One of my favourite parts of our road trip was the bed and breakfast place that we stayed at on our way back to Sydney.  We stayed in Wombat Cottage and were both hoping to spot a wombat or two.   The 10 acre property (which just happens to be for sale at a lazy $1.65 million) was filled with the most beautiful garden beds - it reminded me a lot of the property I grew up on in Tasmania.  I could have spent hours just wandering through the gardens ... but, alas, we didn't see any wombats.  

Wombat Cottage

View from our cottage

Monday, 14 February 2011

Road trip to the coast ...

Fitzroy Falls

After leaving Canberra, C and I took two days to drive back to Sydney, travelling through the Sutton Forest, Kangaroo Valley and up along the Illawarra coast line.  The first day of driving through the forest was spectacular and we stopped at many lookouts along the way.  The area was unexpectedly beautiful, but then again, I'm a sucker for large country homes, surrounded by green paddocks filled with horses.   

View from top of Fitzroy Falls

Near Fitzroy Falls

The second day, driving up the coast, was a little disappointing.  Some parts of it were pretty but I was expecting a much more dramatic coastal drive, rather than the very suburban drive it actually was.  

View from Manning Lookout

Kangaroo Valley bridge

River at Kangaroo Valley

Beautiful farmland

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Goodbye Charlie ...

It's been a sad few days for the Davidson family, with the news that our family dog, Charlie, was unwell and needed to be put down.  Early yesterday morning, Dad, Carla, Dad's partner, and my brother, Tom, took him to the vet and said their final goodbyes.  I feel very lucky to have been able to spend some time with Charlie last weekend during my visit to Canberra.  He was such a special member of our family for nearly 16 years and we'll all miss him dearly. Goodbye Charlie.

Waiting for a tidbit of food

Dozing on the couch

Pottering on the beach

Hanging out in Canberra last weekend
Saying goodbye to Charlie in Canberra

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Anxious Anna ...

I came across this image on Sarah's Wilson's blog this morning and thought it would provide a giggle for those of you who know me well ... it sums me up nicely - always finding something to worry about.

Poachers Pantry ...

Poachers Pantry

Not only does Canberra have great museums, it also has terrific places to eat.  On Sunday afternoon, we headed to a small eatery attached to a winery 25 minutes outside of Canberra (actually in NSW), Poachers Pantry.  Here, we enjoyed several platters of smoked meats and seafood, including kangaroo prosciutto, all washed down with a glass of Wily Trout wine.

The hungry troupe

Smoked seafood platter

Smoked meat platter

Chocolate tart

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Playing the tourist in Canberra ...

View from Mt Ainslie towards the two Parliament Houses and the War Memorial

When visiting Canberra, it is impossible not to put on your nerdy, information seeking hat (also known as a lifelong learner hat in teacher talk) and soak up all the historical and cultural things on offer.  With limited time and a priority of spending time with family, we only visited the War Memorial and Old Parliament House.

Simpson and his Donkey outside the War Memorial

War Memorial

The War Memorial was a surprising treasure trove of information about Australia's involvement in various wars.  Although I do believe that it glorified war to a certain extent, the exhibits were fantastic, with a huge range of diverse media through which to engage with the information.  Since 10 year old B has been learning about the two World Wars, I am now planning a 'school camp' to Canberra to visit the Memorial.

Remembrance Wall

Government House

Next tourist stop was Old Parliament House where the museum goes by the name of 'Museum of Australian Democracy'.  I'd visited here several years ago but it was fun to wander through the rabbit warren of rooms again.  I was particularly impressed with some of the interactive displays that we stumbled across at the end of our visit (and therefore were feeling 'museumed out') ... I'll just have to come back again.

Old Parliament House

'Aboriginal Embassy'

Canberra often doesn't get a very good reputation, and while I certainly wouldn't want to live there (sorry Dad!), it's a great place to visit and there are still plenty more museums and things that I'd like to explore in Australia's capital.

View from in front of old Parliament House, looking past the 'Aboriginal Embassy' to the War Memorial and Mt Ainslie