Canberra Day 88

24th Feb 2017 – Firstly, my apologies for taking forever to get this post done! It’s almost irrelevant now, but I said I would do it, so…I am, on principle, IF that stands for anything by now. Some major procrastination has been going on around my writing and also the fact that I have to choose 1 photo out of 1000 photos, and out of 3 big events for this day.  But let’s just get this out and done.

[Thursday 8th December, 2016]

Day 88!! Can you believe that we’re this close to 90?? It has come around so fast and I can’t believe we’ll be leaving Canberra soon! I’m actually going to feel some pain leaving this place: I’ve gotten quite attached to this city and its attractions and its people and its design and so many little things. I almost feel like I could live here, if it wasn’t for the winter weather, and the summer weather a bit. It’s been a wonderful 3 months in my life, but it’s time to think about going home and keeping up the momentum that I’ve built up here. Meanwhile my poor husband is having nowhere near as much fun! He’s working very long days starting at 8am and going til 8 or 9pm! It’s not sustainable and he can’t keep it up for much longer, but they will not extend the deadline even though its nigh on impossible to meet!! So I’m free as a bird from dawn to dusk this week, although I’m not loving the dusk aspect, and he’s eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at work! Its not good. Speaking conservatively.

First of all, and something that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, is the graduation parade of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Since the Remembrance Day parade at the War Memorial I’ve been looking for any occasion to hear that band again! The Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon are incredible!! Unfortunately there aren’t that many opportunities, and even less that fall in our time here. I’d love to hear the Australian Rugby Choir again too, but since that isn’t going to happen I’ve pre-ordered their CD coming out for Christmas. So I’ve had this date marked in my calendar for a while. Turns out I had the academy and the Royal Military College confused, and I could have gone to both and heard the band twice, but I thought it was one and the same. So instead of the backdrop of the ceremony being the paved parade ground and historic buildings of Duntroon, it was the parade oval of the academy. Never mind, I’m here and sitting in a great seat and ready to go. Turns out if you dress up, wear some heels, wait til 5 minutes before starting time and walk straight to an empty seat at the front, everyone accepts it! Pick up a program from the seat, get out my fan and camera, and don’t start any conversations; well, that’s right in my wheelhouse! Except I’m in the sun and it is BURNING my feet! Move back a row and closer towards the big leafy tree; still not good. Move back another row; people are staring. Sit down and don’t move! I’m in the shade body wise now, much better, but now the tree is hanging down a bit and obscuring my vision, and my feet are still burning! Tough, the ceremony is starting. And here comes the Australia’s Federation Guard onto the parade ground to perform the precise foot manouveurs of the graduation ceremony as a united marching force of Army, Navy and Air Force! Very impressive! Then the wonderful band, then the graduates, then the Governor General in the government Bentley, the inspection of the guard, and so on until the throwing of the caps. And in that 2 hour or so ceremony (more of the so) only 6 (and I use the word only sarcastically) of the graduates and Federation Guard standing still in the blazing sun had to carted off the grounds. And I mean carted. 3 service people actually fainted to the ground, the other three started staggering and wobbling around, and I swear one guy came THIS CLOSE to impaling himself on his ceremonial sword! Hopefully it’s not that sharp! Each one had to be frog marched off, and its weird but all of the people in charge of the escorting off of their fellow people were short; like they could fit under the patient’s armpits! Is that intentional? I’m so glad I went, it was really interesting and certainly not something you get the chance to do everyday. Home to bed for a short nap after all that exertion!

Then after a nap and lunch I went to the weekly Thursday only behind the scenes tour at the National Library. If you ever get a chance to do this, its a brilliant option; it is incredible back there! Full sized newspapers from the 1900s onwards bound into enormous books, audio and microfilm files of newspapers filling dark passage after dim passage of small drawers, a 2015 robot trundling books and audio and bits and pieces all over place on command announcing itself around every corner, and so much more! Truly fascinating. So much going on that you could never imagine. And all in a bombproof cellar under the main library! Definitely go if you get the chance.

Then another main event of the day, and also something that I’ve been waiting for: this time the fascinating Circus 1903 that has no animals and is located in the Canberra Theatre, not in a tent. It’s after hours, which I’ve been avoiding so I’m home when hubby is home, but he’s not going to be home tonight til late due to work so out I go! This is a circus based on circuses in 1903 as it suggests, so its a very interesting set with fabulous old fashioned costumes, a super tall New Yorker announcer and such a variety of circus acts. And an enormous puppet elephant, with a baby elephant! And when I say puppet, you have no idea! They were incredibly lifelike and very cleverly controlled, so impressive. All of the acts were very professional: balancing on boards sitting on progressive layers of rollers, cycling and skipping rope on the high wire, acrobatics in a dangling ring, proper knife throwing that had my heart beating fast, bicycle tricks, human throwing and juggling on the floor and from heights, regular juggling, and more. A fabulous night out!! The end!

img_4479

 

Canberra Days 57 to 63

[Day 46 OR Day 57 – Monday November 7th to Day 52 OR 63 – Sunday November 13th]

…okay I’m calling it, Day 57 to 63…our time here won’t be shorter here minus the NZ trip…you can’t take back days, so there we have it

To kept this moving, and because my week was pretty uneventful anyway, I’m going to give you another ‘one week snapshot’ and then we’ll be approaching up to date. Not my original plan, but rolling with the punches, and here we go!

Monday November 7th – first day home from holidays, a day spent processing holiday photos and cross checking them with my new bird book, doing a couple of loads of washing and not much else, feeling a bit dull and flat and tired. Then to get me going hubby suggested an after work bike ride around the city: ANU, Commonwealth Park, the lake, the Carillon, defense department, Lonsdale street. I believe this had the secondary purpose of making me change my front bike tube already from before we went on holidays! I just lost confidence that I could still do it so I put off doing it, missing out on some ride opportunities because of this, but as soon as I started there it was! Back again! I’m really down on myself lately; I’ve got to stop! Then tea at the food truck park from ’10 inch custom pizzeria’. Watching the skilled girl flipping dough into bases was lots of fun! Haloumi and potato wood fired pizza; winning! And rolling home again feeling excellent.

20161107_193757-7th-nov

Tuesday November 8th – a new friend kindly invited me out to morning tea at her friend’s house out at Bungendore. I arrived to a table set up down the back garden under fruit trees with chocolate cake and fizzy drink; so lovely! Got a cuddle with another friend’s little bubba who is growing fast and just adorable, and a lovely few hours chatting and getting to know the other friends. Then a drive around town taking in all the historic buildings, an awesome hot dog and the drive home. I discovered Sparrow Hill and Kowen Park for future birding, photographed the awesome Dickson street art and then home for a well deserved, and very satisfying nap. A load of washing and that’s a pretty good day.

img_4446-8th-nov

Wednesday November 9th – not much of anything today. A load of washing, lots of sitting on the couch, lots of rain and this fleeting rainbow as seen from my couch. Bit of a blergh day. I did get my scripts dispensed and my awful tax debt sorted with my accountant…no wonder I’m flat! So it was good that hubby called at lunchtime for me to ride down to Dickson and meet him for lunch at Alara’s turkish place. At least that got me kickstarted.

20161109_193011-9th-nov

Thursday November 10th – I took a while to get going today again. I had my plan of what to do but just couldn’t really get started. Instead of riding out to Mount Majura as planned I drove, and actually I was pretty glad cos I wouldn’t have done half as much walking if I’d been thinking about the ride home. So a late afternoon walk around Mount Majura from the Federal Highway entry birding which was interesting mostly for one fact. A Brown Falcon was hovering overhead which was brilliant in itself because it was pretty low down and I got some fabulous photos! But this always upsets all the other birds. All the little birds had completely vanished, and the big birds were all making an absolute fuss and racket! What was particularly fascinating was the behaviour of the ravens. There were between 15 and 20 ravens in the air also hovering, spaced evenly over the whole area that the falcon would be interested in and it was like they were creating a blanket of protection to prevent the falcon from getting down and attacking other birds. This was so interesting, I’ve never seen such teamwork from ravens before. Anytime the falcon got too near one of the hovering ravens there would be a scuffle and the falcon would move on. I didn’t watch the falcon the whole time, but I don’t think in two hours that it got down to the ground. Once I got further up the hill away from the falcon’s area there was a sudden explosion of little birds which was excellent. I’m really pleased that I got myself out to do this walk. Apart from all this the bush flowers and butterflies and dragonflies were also excellent.

img_4665-10th-nov

One Brown Falcon soaring above Mount Majura and every other bird goes crazy!

Friday November 11th – Remembrance Day at the National War Memorial. What can I say? I am so glad that I attended! I rode down on my bike. I’m getting quite used to just jumping on my bike in whatever I happen to be wearing and going. Before I would procrastinate about having to change my clothes, and maybe take a nicer change with me, and change again…and of course I never got started. But a different mindset about just going regardless makes it much easier to get out the bike and down a flight of stairs! Oy the stairs! Anyway, at least its only one flight. You have to book to attend Remembrance Day. You don’t have to pay, just book, and I can see why; it’s one classy event! From the Army, Navy and Air Force representatives marching onto the parade ground, to the Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon band playing absolutely beautifully, to the Australian Rugby Choir of veterans singing so wonderfullly, to that chilling minute of silence of a few hundred people, to the traditions of formal arrival of the Prime Minister and Govenor General and partner in town cars, to the outstanding speech given by Beyond Blue ambassador Jeff Kennett on veterans mental health and our responsibility to care for them once they are home, to the laying of wreaths by all the embassies…wow, what an hour and a half!! Just fabulous. The hymns played by the band…there were 5 that I recognised and weren’t they played to perfection?! I’m going to hear the band again in December, and I’m very excited! On another note, did you know that I do a weekly weigh in? And somehow despite all that we ate and drank in New Zealand…I lost a tiny bit of weight. It’s nothing conclusive, but still. Every little win is something. Another win was going laptop shopping and buying a laptop after only an hour of so of looking! MAJOR win, I hate looking at specs! Despite shopping at JB, we had an excellent saleman who was super helpful. I ended up getting a super dooper deal buying the last computer in my model, and YAY! I finally have a laptop that can connect to the internet, can process photos without dying, has a CD drive and once we get the extra storage, doesn’t flash ‘no more storage’ every time I try to upload photos! I’m really happy. I got my handbag repaired at the same time, had yummy tacos for dinner. And had a catch after NZ chat with grandma. What a day!

IMG_5373 11th nov.JPG

The Navy, Army and Air Force backed up by the Royal Military College Duntroon band and the Australian Rugby Choir

Saturday November 12th – A big sleep in and slow day for both of us, hubby a bit under the weather and me the usual. Not a very eventful day, we canned our plans cos we just didn’t feel up for anything, not even bike riding or birding! Feeling that the day had been too sluggish hubby got a burst of energy to do the vacuuming, clean up the kitchen, do some washing and get some groceries in the late afternoon. We had Japanese for dinner at Bon Kura in Dickson with rainbow rolls which was excellent!

20161112_202412 12th nov.jpg

Sunday November 13th – hubby under the weather again so had to cancel our lunch plans which was a big shame! As always a beautiful drive down south for fellowship. So Macca’s for lunch as a poor substitute. Afternoon naps all round, and not much more to it than that!

20161113_102041

Actually, that was pretty eventful! I’ve gotta stop telling myself that I am less, I do less, I’m worth less because I don’t work, I don’t volunteer, and I do different stuff to what other people are doing. Do I sometimes go back to bed at 11am? Yes. Do I sometimes lie in all morning? Yes. But do I always try to make my day something new and special? Yes. Do I nap every day? Yep, you betcha! But I’m doing my best to live the best life that I can right now and I am making gains in physical stamina and mental strength. You probably know all this without me having to explain it. But it seems that I need to explain it to myself rather often, so it may as well be written down for posterity!

Canberra Day Five

15th September 2016

Some enthusiasm has gone out of me with a string of late nights trying to catch up with slow days; never a sensible plan. But I’m pushing on. I must remind myself that no day is a fail even if I don’t get as much done as I hoped. After all, it’s day 5. That’s FIVE days so far. Not even a week! It’s nothing in the scheme of things. I’ve been so many places, seen so much of Canberra’s urban and bush areas, and birds, and lake and although there’s so much more to see, it’s just one day after the other.

My morning routine continues, and today I plan to check out Mount Ainslie. There was actual peak traffic on leaving hubby’s work! A surprise! It was raining (maybe the reason for the traffic) and as I drove towards the mountain it looked like the top was in cloud but trying to be the optimist, I went up anyway. Yep, nothing to be seen but white fluff. Oh well, I tried. I’ll be back some sunny day. So I head for home, but what’s this? A sign for Mount Pleasant lookout! I’ve never heard of it, but let’s go check it out. So I make a right turn and happen to find myself in a fascinating little world that is Duntroon, the Army military college. Gorgeous old style cream and maroon houses and buildings, parade grounds, the odd couple of soldiers left and righting it along the footpath, military police, its own ambulance station; it’s so interesting! If it weren’t raining…but it is so I’ll write it down for another day.

The signs to Mount Pleasant prove a bit difficult, but whether its me or the signs is difficult to say! A few false turns and finally I start up Mount Pleasant. It’s not far, and a gradual climb – I might just come back on my bike and practice my climbing skills! Another misty, rainy view; it’s becoming a thing but it’s another location full of possibility for future walks, bird watching and bike riding. I’ll add it to the plus list. I’m still proud and pleased that I made it here to get the view; it would have been easy to turn and head for home today.

img_3842

Not a great deal more to the day except for getting a few jobs done down the street, familiarising myself with my local shops and getting a new pharmacy, a new Coles, a new post office and getting a nice Cold Rock icecream with fruit tingles and Nerds to round out the afternoon. Oh, and my daily 2 hour nap! No day would be complete…

For dinner we had a spontaneous night out for Japanese banquet at Kokoro in Gunghalin…I’m gradually getting used to the foreign sounds of the Canberra suburbs; I think I’m more used to Japanese! 6 courses of Japanese delishousness…not something I’ve ever done before but I think I’m sold! The raw fish section was a challenge but I got through at least one piece of each and some wasabi mayonnaise and soy sauce helped the rest to go down. I now LOVE lotus root chips, I’m ambivalent about edamame beans, and I renewed my appreciation for Japanese style sushi with just rice and fish. The sticky cooked salmon was wonderful but being the last course, it was hard to really appreciate! As for the black sesame and green tea flavoured ice cream…no thanks! But give me amaranth tea with floating flowers anytime, it was divine. Heavy tummy, off to sleep!

Check out the rest of today’s photos on my website: Duntroon and Mount Pleasant

Some of today’s blossoms are included in my Spring Blossoms portfolio: red and pink japonica, yellow daffodils and the deeper pink tree blossoms