90 days of Canberra

Dear readers,

Wow the last few weeks have been hectic! A death in the family and unplanned trip from Canberra to Melbourne for the funeral the week before we moved all of our stuff back for good. Then that final week in Canberra jamming in all that I possibly could of the sights and sounds of this city. Then packing up all of our stuff and getting in the car for the final trip down the highway to Melbourne. Not my husband’s final trip which it should be, but from now on he’ll be flying up and back, and I’m not invited. Insert sad face! Then that first week at home which is now, and I’m off for 4 days now of radio silence. 

Apologies for not keeping up with the blog! It just all got away from me, and I couldn’t get it done. Then I made a decision in that last week to spend it out and about not on the couch blogging. I will still do it, but it’ll be at least next week. Bear with me if you can and I’ll get there. 

In the meantime feel free to revisit, or visit for the first time, the last 84 days that I’ve published of my adventures in our capital city. Not all at once of course! Even I can’t bear reading more than one or two of my blogs at a time! It’s tedious reading your own writing sometimes. Especially when you only get a little written at a time and keep having to read the draft to make sure it sticks together! Although I shouldn’t complain about reading my writing when I haven’t written! I’ll get on to that and be in touch next week. 

Wishing everyone happy holidays whether it be Christmas or Boxing Day or Hanuka or something else that I don’t know about. Enjoy your break from work or leisure and your family or friends time. May you have good health, just enough wealth and be merry! 

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Canberra Day 82 to 84

Friday 2nd December, 2016

Today I’m going to the National Library’s ‘Treasures’ tour, a free tour on the current Treasures Gallery which right now is filled with an exhibition of Australian history. Apparently the library has 10 million objects as compared to 3 million books…something like that anyway. Surprising, but as they say, who else would keep these objects? And they all relate to books or to history in some way. Sitting in the atrium waiting for the tour (yes, me waiting) it was all Travatine marble, gorgeous tapestries, stunning stained glass windows…very impressive! A beautiful way to start the journey. Among the amazing things I saw on the tour was THE original Captain Cook diary from the original voyage; they turn the pages every page for another glimpse into history. Some fascinating maps: from when Australia was represented by just the Western Australian coastline single line drawing ending unfinished, then the first map that had the full outline of Australia. And so on. That was the guided tour, then I stayed before to have a better look at early Australia, and the fashion photography of Athol Shmith…not sure if that’s an accident or what. Well that was all brilliant, but exhausted my brain power for the day. I’ll do the other exhibition another day.

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Beautiful tapestries in the atrium of the National Library of Australia – of course ‘The Land of the Parrots’ on the right is my favourite. The space dish is beautiful but how can it compare?

When I was at the Belconnen Arts Centre I saw a brochure for an exhibition called Bipolar Bares All. Obviously an artist with bipolar doing art about bipolar appeals to me so I drove all the way down to Tuggeranong Arts Centre. I grabbed some lunch in town then went to the arts centre. The art was black pen drawings on white paper, some with captions or talking bubbles. It wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, but a couple were quite powerful. Then, since I was down there, I hit up Tuggeranong homestead. I enjoyed hanging over the white post and rail fence like a good ol farmer checking out the gorgeous brown girls feeding in the paddock, and I nearly ran over a blue tongue lizard! Luckily it didn’t go far so I got a few shots in. Then, for the second time this week, I walked in where I wasn’t welcome again! “Excuse me but would you mind telling me why you are taking photographs of my roses on private property” wasn’t how I thought the day would go! How was I to know that it was private property? The gate was open, the tourist sign was right there in the car park, and a sign at the exit of the car park towards the house said welcome! I mean, call me crazy (“crazy”), but it all looked okay to me! Anyway, I got the whole woes speel from the woman about how this always happens, about how photographers call up every week and have to be refused etc, yet right there on the lawn is a party obviously set up for tonight; its all rather confusing. In the end, when I would have been quite happy to leave already and not hear another word about it, they invite me in to have a look around and I got a 5 minute wizz around with the speed tour speech and I was on my way! What a kufuffle about nothing! You threaten me then invite me into the house? Sheesh! Home for a nap, but the adrenaline was still jumping through my arteries and I was buzzing like a bee; couldn’t get to sleep!!

Well, hubby was going to be late again, so I head to Red Hill lookout, the last of the lookouts that I saw in the rain when we were first here and haven’t been back to in fine weather. Gotta do something physical and burn off this adrenaline! And honestly I think Red Hill has some of the most stunning views because it looks out on the Brindabella ranges which are always blue and looking fabulous. Then we meet up for dinner at the food truck park, The Hamlet on Lonsdale Street and what a lovely way to end an interesting day!

Saturday 3rd December, 2016

I’ve been to the Australian National Botanic gardens but I wanted to go back for the Flora Explorer vehicle tour which only runs on Saturday; I figured I’d see more of the gardens that way rather than hiking around. It was pretty good, although the driving was pretty jumpy, but the commentary was great and it was a novel way to see more of the gardens. Then we went back to CMAG for the brand new Velocity exhibition of vintage racing bicycles which was really cool! Man we’ve come a long way to modern bikes! It was fascinating to look back and see what the early cyclists achieved with far inferior equipment!

Then on to the National War Memorial, something we’ve wanted to do together since we got here but it takes til the end of our time here to really force our hand and get us into gear! We had a wonderful time. We were just in time for the last guided tour of the day which was through the Great War section and our guide was fabulous. So snappy and great on the stories and anecdotes, really interesting and kept things moving nicely. Then we moved through the other sections ourselves as much as we could take in. We absolutely loved the dioramas, enjoyed the movies past and present, and the large models/souvenirs helped put everything in context. Then we finished off the day with the daily Last Post ceremony; what an experience! The war memorial is absolutely a must see in Canberra!

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Now for my weekly shower; sad, but very sadly true.

Sunday 4th December, 2016

Our usual meeting then we went to the Lanyon homestead for lunch. That didn’t turn out when we were booted off our nice table outside which was apparently reserved although there was no sign! Inside had low roofs and tiny windows and was quite a bit depressing, and the marquee had middle aged women drinking and celebrating Christmas, or something! No thanks. So we skipped our look through the homestead, disappointing, and headed off back to Braddon for lunch at Elemental on Lonsdale Street instead, then an afternoon nap.

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Happy Sunday views!

Canberra Day 78 to 81

[Monday 28th November – Thursday 1st December, 2016]

Okay so I’m hopelessly behind, but by some lucky chance if I cram a week into one, I’ll be up to date. At least the first half of the week anyway.

Monday 28th November, 2016

Today is our 7th wedding anniversary. 7 year itch anyone? Not even slightly, well not most days anyway. We’ve been together since 2003 so I’d say the 7 year mark has been well and truly crossed; nearly doubled even. Although the last 3 years of being sick has probably put the most strain on our relationship of anything so far! Actually no probably about it, it definitely has been the hardest thing for the two of us to get through! At times I’m sure we didn’t know how we’d get through it. And we probably aren’t through it yet, well of course not. But we’ve gotten to a kind of plateau point right now so we’re enjoying a bit of a reprieve! But we both know today isn’t going to be a big celebration cos hubby’s work has really ramped up and this is going to be a LLOOONNGG week for him! Cue long nights for me waiting for him to come home…yeah right! I got things to see and do. And then later on once its died down we’ll have a lovely meal out or something. In the meantime I’m trying to get a park to check out this bike shop, but can’t get near it. In my attempts I find this beautiful street art, hidden away in a back alley but just stunning! Canberra is terrific for street art I’m finding.

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So to fill in my day, I take a drive out to Lake George to look for birds. This is not exactly easy. Lake George borders the highway for something like 28 kilometres between Collector and Bywong over the border in New South Wales but over the fence the lake itself is divied up into individual private ownership so unless you contact them all and they somehow all agree to you entering their property, you cannot get over the fence to look for birds. This is somewhat inconvenient because its the perfect spot for birds: large shallow lake that comes up and goes down, muddy flats, grassy sections, livestock etc. So you have to bird watch from the side of the road, but since the lake went down after all the spring rain its quite a long way away. I drove up to the furthest point where the lake borders the road and start my start-stop progress back down along the road. I pull in at each stop and check out what I can see. Unfortunately not that much, but there are some birds of prey as expected hovering above the highway so that was fun to photograph. In need of lunch and finally accepting that birding Lake George is really a lost cause, other than raptors, I head to one of the wineries for lunch. The cafe is shut but its a lovely spot. Then off to another winery in hope, but it doesn’t open Monday; I guess I didn’t factor in that a lot of tourist spots would be shut today. So off home for a 3pm lunch and a nap, then when hubby did finish work we went on a bike ride around two loops of the lake. A load of washing, some blogging (if you’ll believe it) and another day wrapped up.

Tuesday 29th November, 2016

Today I checked out the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG, not to be confused with the National Museum or the National Gallery). There’s a new exhibition about Jeannie Baker, a very talented Australian illustrator and story teller. I had one of her children’s picture books as a child and it was beautiful. This exhibition is right up my ally with a book called Circle about the migrating patterns of endangered Bar Tailed Godwits which are beautiful wading birds, and about how human development of wetlands into suburbs etc affects their survival. Her illustrations are to die for! Poor choice of words, oops! They are gorgeous and so detailed and just incredible; I admired that exhibition so much! There was another exhibition that I checked out that was more post-modern, not really my thing but a little bit interesting.

Then I headed over to the Belconnen Arts Centre on the beautiful shores of Lake Gininnderra to check out a Moira Nelson exhibit that looked interesting; a brochure I found somewhere else. This woman has a brilliant style! Her sketches and paintings are marvellous, although maybe if I were the subject I wouldn’t be gushing. She pulls out all of your insecurities and paints them front and centre, which I think is so refreshing, but then my wrinkles are still under the skin not falling down my face! The paintings/drawings aren’t realistic as such, but they absolutely capture the spirit of the person, as far as I can tell anyway. I really truly enjoyed the exhibit, and to top it all off the artist was in residence sketching someone for the exhibit finale, which was fun to watch. I even ate lunch with her, and did my own drawing! After I finished the bird, she told me it was a self portrait; I told her it was a young bird morphing into a male! I hope that has nothing to do with me! In the same gallery there was also an exhibit from the gallery’s disabled program, one from the local high school’s Year 12 class and all in all what a great local gallery. img_1081

Another gallery I’d picked up a brochure for is at Gold Creek: the Old School House gallery. I headed over there but apparently they are closed on Tuesday, but how was I to know when the door was open and the kitchen going? So I was halfway into the place before they told me they were closed. But they kindly let me have a quick look at the cutesie art in the living room and the dining room of the old cottage. Then I tried to find the Gunghalin homestead AGAIN and failed AGAIN, but I somehow found the Gungaderra Homestead instead, not that you can go into it, but it turns out the same is true of the Gunghalin Homestead so nothing lost. Hubby called to say he’d be late, so off I head to the  Jerrabomberra wetlands. A beautiful place with LOADS of birds and lovely paths, except the last one where I had to beat a path along a bank through a wheat field up to my arm pits on a snakey day!! My shoes may never be grass seed-free! That was not fun, plus it was dusk so I couldn’t properly look for the snakes! But lovely grass and water birds, always a great combination for a long list of birds.

Wednesday 30th November, 2016

A bit of a home day so I got my pharmacy registration renewed and paid for (remind me why), packed my new weekly medicine box, some groceries, got a script dispensed, puts the bins out la di da. Then the main event of the day: a bike ride down to Aspen Island on Lake Burley Griffin to hear the Carillon concert at midday. This is a clock and a musical instrument that sounds like bells and sitting in the shade on the island listening to classical music isn’t a bad way to spend the early afternoon. I finally got to that bike shop Onya Bike and got me some cycling gloves in a lovely colour that matches my gear. And then, finally finally, I got to the National War Memorial in time for the Last Post ceremony, and I’m so glad! Wow, its an impressive event! Singing the National Anthem as an adult, listening to the lament on the bagpipes and the Last Post on the bugle, hearing about the life of a service person and seeing their family lay a wreath, then reading what they’ve written; it’s spine chilling really, in a good way.

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The Carillon on Aspen Island, connected by a bridge to the walking track around Lake Burley Griffin

Thursday 1st December, 2016

My brand new computer is playing up in the speakers, the processing, the mouse pad!! Seriously, its 2 weeks old. So back to JB hifi. Plus the case for my mobile phone was defective and when I dropped my phone both the case broke and the screen cracked!! Back to Optus; is this a recurring theme? But they won’t compensate for cracked screens, even though they admit that the case they gave me isn’t protective! ARGH! So on to something more fun. Buy a pair of shoes! Well that feels better. Then out to Fyshwick fresh food market which is really lovely, if I had a shopping list I’d be in real danger! But its just nice to look at all the fresh fruit and veg, the delis and everything. And then THE event of the day, week, month, maybe year: a performing arts piece called NERVOUS being held up at the Yale Colombia Dome at the top of Mount Stromlo near the Observatory. It was billed as a light, sound, dance, acting and science experiment event and it was all of these. A brilliant exploration of social anxiety, internal struggles to be “normal”, interpersonal anxiety through body movement, dance that mimicked the intensity and strain of close human interaction, music that thudded in your chest and made you feel like your heart was skipping a beat, flashing lights and strobes and a brilliant floor overlay of the stock market representing societal anxiety about world events, emergency sirens and news presenters…so much jammed into a short performance by 4 talented creative artists! As someone who suffers with generalised anxiety, I could relate to all of it, and that’s a precious thing! Almost too much…that thudding heart stopping music kinda got under my skin and made my throat tighten and got me feeling anxious!! And the social anxiety section was so very true that I felt like I was understood, which is also a wonderful thing. I felt very close to the artists by the end of the show, and I would definitely go to any other performance put on by the Australian Dance Party!

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The utter awkwardness of intimate physical contact, the fear of not being accepted, the longing to be part of a relationship, the difficulty of making the first move, eye contact as a whole means of communication (this whole segment was silent verbally)

Canberra Day 76 and 77

[Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November, 2016]

This is a weekend we have been looking forward to for so long! Since way before Canberra came up, actually, but since we are now only 2 and a half hours away instead of over 8 hours, let’s make the most of it! I only wish we went earlier, but hey, we did it and it was great. So on Friday night off we headed off to Woolongong to visit our friends, their little girl and their expectation for April! And a great time was had by all, or at least by us. We got there in time to sit up and chat for a while before bed which is always a lovely way to start the weekend. Then a good night’s sleep and Saturday for me started with breakfast and little Miss’s swimming lesson. This was actually great fun, cos she was so into the swimming lesson! She was grinning, and not fussed when her face went under water, and doing a lean jump off the edge into the pool, and really enjoying herself! I had a lot of fun watching! I suppose taking photos of kids in bathers is pretty taboo these days, but when they’re that cute and grinning so much with the fun of swimming, well, I had to take a few! Not camera photos, camera phone photos. I think a telephoto lens would attract some negative attention!!

Meanwhile the boys were out on a bike ride and hubby had to do some work after that so that general consensus was that the rest of us would have a recovery sleep. I thought it sounded too good to be true, but it came off! Little girlie, mum, dad and me all got in a really decent sleep while poor hubby worked away. I got up a bit before the others so I went for a drive around Lake Illawarra and looked for birds. I struck gold with a little wetland on the edge of the lake and got a whole bunch of interesting birds including a lifer, which was very exciting! Then back to the house and bathers on for a trip to the beach, North Beach I think which is just stunning! It was quite a hike along the beach to the flags, but it was lovely on the beach and the water was beautiful once we were in. It was pretty wishy washy in the waves with two sand bars and the water slopping between them but its the first beach swim in a long time and I really enjoyed it!

Then a quick clothing change and off to a lovely BBQ and salad dinner at some friends of our friends where we met their tiny 2 week old baby and little man, admired their retro cool house and sat around a fire in a drum in the backyard all night. We got smoky, our eyes got irritated, we enjoyed our dinner so much and the company was fabulous! What a night! Off to bed for a good sleep, but unfortunately it didn’t quite get me there and I was still tired the next day. All this socialising! I love it but gosh it drains me. So I wasn’t sparkling the next day. Off to our usual fellowship but of course all new people. Then lunch at our friends mum’s place and what a lunch! I haven’t seen such a Sunday lunch since we last sat around our grandma’s table which is too long ago! But this would give it a run. A couple that we’d met before were there so that was really cool to catch up! Another lovely catch up but by this point I was drained! I actually felt physically exhausted, like I just couldn’t bear another moment before going to sleep. So we made our way off, packed up our stuff quick smart and into the car. I would have liked a lie down nap but we had to get back to Canberra so a car nap it is. Hubby’s hoody serves as a makeshift pillow and off I go. Luckily hubby doesn’t nod off at the wheel so I can sleep in peace. Dinner at the usual highway-side convenience restaurant, home in daylight and we’ll be remembering this weekend with enjoyment for a long time.

Canberra Day 75

[Friday 25th November, 2016]

Every week I start my Friday with a weigh in. I have since 2012 and I will regardless. It’s just something that makes me feel that in control of my weight, even if that isn’t the case. But my weight has been stable now for a good while and even coming down slightly. I don’t get very excited about small changes until they’ve been consistent but you know, it’s still nice.

The aim of the day was to go back to the National Portrait Gallery for the guided tour at 11.30am. I’d done the guided tour of the main exhibit but was keen to check out the regular features, but its always better with a guide rather than by yourself. It saves a lot of reading and gives you some insider information and a better understanding of why certain pieces are kept in the gallery. So I was there on time for a change and set off with the group. As a by-the-by I’m always impressed with foreign visitors for their good grasp of English! We were so lazy in South America learning a bare minimum, if that, of Spanish and these people can take in a guided tour about art! Amazing.

So first off we took in the new Quentin Price portrait that had been hanging in the Gallery for just 2 hours, and was awaiting a press conference with Michael Stavros the artist, George Brandis the politician for the arts, museum director, a lady called Helen who had some official role, and all of it happening on White Ribbon Day in recognition of all the work that Quentin has done in her time as chair of the commission into domestic violence. A truly beautiful art work and very like the lady herself. We also took in Nancy Wakefield, an Australian war hero in France who was essential in taking intelligence back and forth across enemy lines, often on her bicycle, and led 7500 paratroops into France; what a woman! Apparently a typical storyteller in that some things are embellished, but enough can be verified to confirm her as a hero. There were several more which were all interesting, and then back to Quentin Bryce’s portrait for the press conference.

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The lovely Quentin Bryce, her beautiful portrait, the artist, George Brandis politician, and the media gaggle

Then on to Old Parliament House which I have to say is one of the highlights so far! For $2 entry fee you get the most amazing experience. A gallery of cartoons about political life as a bonus feature, lovely green gardens with roses and so many rooms set up just as they would have been back in the day with awful colour schemes, full roof to floor wood panelling, sets of parliamentary encyclopedias, old dial up phones, Bakelight radios, shag rugs…oh just the works! You have to go! So many great rooms: the Prime Minister’s rooms, the whip’s room, the opposition offices, and many more unexpected features. The history, the overhead commentary in the sound quality of the day, old movies on old box TVs and just a great shrine to what was. Highly recommended.

Here is a typical event for me, unfortunately. I didn’t complete my mandatory 40 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) for the CPD year October 2014 to September 2015, owing to not being working and forgetting all about it during the whole nervous breakdown thing at home! I only managed to complete the 2013/2014 requirement due to the massive amount of CPD I did at the beginning of my job at the Alfred in October 2013! That was pure luck! Anyone, its an official requirement of my registration with the Australian Healthcare Professional Regulation Authority (AHPRA), previously the Pharmacy Board, so they take it seriously, and I had a condition imposed on my registration that I must complete the 40 hours this year, which I did. They made me provide a plan of how I would achieve the 40 hours, then I had to record all my CPD as usual, but then submit it to AHPRA for their review. At some unknown point they’ll get back to me about whether they’re satisfied with what I’ve done. Now I have to apply to have the condition removed so that I don’t have to submit proof of my 40 hours of CPD every year, and more pertinently, so that when someone looks me up online they don’t see that I have conditions on my registration! Vanity! That’s not the typical bit by the way. So it’s pretty simple: print the form, fill it out, send it in. But we’re not at home so no printer. There’s an Officeworks nearby but parks are hard to get! Should have walked, but didn’t feel like it. So I drove past it and couldn’t find a park and kept going. Later on my way home I went past again and no park, so ditto. This went on for 2 days…until finally I got a park! It’s sad but true. Here’s where the typical comes in. I have to pay a pay card but have no change so back to the car. I load up the card with the amount I need and I’m good to go. I put in the USB, put in the pay card, hit print on the single sheet of paper that’s causing me this grief and both the printers are jammed! Wouldn’t you know?? I got that sorted by one of the staff, picked up my print, grabbed my purse and mission accomplished, finally! And yep, an hour later when I went to put some photos on my USB…I realised I’d left it behind! So back down there, miraculously found another park, got my USB back and back home again! Seriously!

Then a load of washing, folding up the previous load of dry washing, packing for a weekend away in Woolongong, even some ironing! That’s a sign of a good day! Why do I mention all of these humdrum bits of everyday housework? Not such a great achievement, really? Because they’ve been one of the biggest bone of contention between hubby and me since I’ve been sick, and still seem to be the hardest things to do. I mean there’s not much exciting about it, and it’s hard to get going. I mean its not exciting to anyone, I’m not suggesting I’m alone in that, but when you’ve got limited means, you’d rather do something fun instead right? So would anyone I guess. It’s just something that’s hard to get going on, especially when there’s so many other interesting things happening in the city of Canberra. But I got going today, got a few things done and its something to remember.

What a day! So many memories, and so much of interest and intrigue.