Canberra Day 89

[Friday 9th December]

Time is getting short here, and a weekend trip back down to Melbourne is going to make it shorter, but we wouldn’t miss it for anything. Hubby’s grandmother passed away at the start of the week and the funeral is this coming Monday so tonight we’re piling into our brother and sister-in-laws dual cab for the 7.5 hour trip south. It’s the least we can do to pay our final public love and respect. And we’re looking forward to being with hubby’s family, we miss them so much more at a time like this. It’s not sad that she is gone, in that we wouldn’t wish her back in her age, health, memory state but we’ll always miss her. I realise at this time that I’ve failed in my essential duty of letting many of my good people know that she has gone…I’m sorry! It’s mostly because it never occurred to me until the funeral; brain fade!

Since we’re going home for a bit anyway, and I have so much stuff (his words, not mine), I’m packing a few bags to take with me. You know, pharmacy reading I was going to get through, a cross stitch I was going to start, a sketch pad I never opened, a photo album I was going to go through and caption, books, clothes I won’t need, most of my shoes etc. Plus a few little purchases; I tried to keep it few and small. And its that time already, time to make a few coffee/lunch dates to say goodbye to my new friends! Nooo! Not already.

On today’s ticket? The amazing Versailles exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. It’s only showing in Canberra, so lucky me! I know NOTHING about Versailles, except from the ads: gold, gold, more gold, marble, flowers and I hear there’s a special perfume! So what better way to take it in than a guided tour? This is opening day, probably not an ideal day to see it but I haven’t got that many days left so gotta go for it. I realise as I arrive at the National Gallery that I should have come here ages ago! There’s so much else to see apart from this exhibition; I’ll have to try and get back here. The tour was an audio one with the guide speaking quietly into a mic and the followers listening through headphones; good idea since there were multiple tours running and lots of people everywhere. The guide was amazing, she knew so much and spouted off all the dates and history like she’d done it a hundred times before even though it was day one. And the exhibition was magnificent!! There WAS a special perfume designed specifically for this exhibition! It was constantly sprayed through the entrance hall of the exhibition to give the impression of the massive gardens surrounding the palace of Versailles and the gazillion orange trees that lined the 100 something metre hall leading into the main palace. Some people smelled orange blossom, I smelled roses. Either way, what a cool device for an exhibition, engaging your sense of smell as well as sight!

So what did we see? So many beautiful paintings, either from the palace, or of the time and people from Versailles and France, all in such massive, elaborate, golden, carved frames that would do my grandma’s decorating style proud. Then the real things: enormous floor rugs, gorgeous gold and glass vases, furniture, clothing, a room immersing you in a 3D experience of the elaborate irrigation system in place for the Versailles garden which was demanded by one of the Louis’ despite the palace being basically in the desert. The history of the 3 Louis’ of the Versailles palace was also fascinating to me, having never heard any of it before. A brilliant exhibition; highly recommended! I did manage to sneak back another time and it was worth; so much detail to take in!

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An amazing photograph of the main hall of the palace of Versailles giving a glimpse into the decadent era that began with the reign of the Louis’ – the 2 foreground statues are replicas of the original. There were something like 373 mirrors along this hallway paired with windows on the other side

Then another little experience: a 2.5 km walking tour of Lake Burley Griffin with a guide talking about the history of Canberra and the lake. It’s a free thing that the tourist board do, so of course I have to do it! Never pass a freebie, me. We looked at the globe of the world inscribed with all the consulates in Canberra, the Menzies statue which is REALLY tall, the armed forces monument, the dead police  persons, the island, the musical tower. To be honest, I’ve done that many laps of the lake on my bike, plus the boat cruise, plus other tours that this one was a bit superfluous! Oh well. It’s done. But in a bit of a weird format, the tour is one way. It ends 2.5km from the start. And then you have to walk back again under your own steam! Bummer! Oh well, get trudging.

Canberra Day Thirteen

How can you not have a wonderful day when it starts with these gorgeous flowers and this much sunshine?? I am so loving the flower festival Floriade. It’s been open for 7 days and this is my third visit; YAY for free entry! This would never happen in Melbourne. And YAY for fantastic weather every few days that makes it such a pleasure to be alive and out in the sunshine soaking up the beauty of flowers; you know, in between the rain! And YAY for being well enough so that I actually feel joy and enjoyment of things, rather than hating the sunlight and covering my head in my doona. When the chemicals are balanced, magic happens! So as always I want to enthusiastically recommend my psychiatrist whose knowledge and skill has gotten me from not wanting to live life to loving life! If that isn’t a miracle…

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I don’t have much of a garden myself in Melbourne but I do love gardens. My hubby will tell you that I like the IDEA of a garden more than the actual gardening behind the garden. I tend to love high maintenance flowers but want a low maintenance garden filled with high maintenance flowers. It doesn’t really  work out…so currently I have a variety of succulents and geraniums, all pretty die hard stuff that I never water or feed or tend to in any way. But they flower for me which is delightful. And the rest of the time I get my fix from other people’s or public gardens. Today I got my fix from the ferris wheel, a great idea given by a friend. It really gives you an idea of the patterns of the gardens and just how awesome the whole garden is.

What else did I do with my day besides admiring flowers and taking another hundred or so photos of flowers? I went for another bike ride: 21km this time around the western (=hilly) and central (=flat) loops of Lake Burley Griffin; got some overdue blood tests done by another of the seemingly all grumpy phebotomists; chatted to my grandma on the phone for her birthday (one of the major things I miss about Melbourne!); got some scripts dispensed; mailed a couple of postcards; got some groceries; had a nap. Just another day. But another day where I enjoyed life and put in an effort to live life to the full. It’s a beautiful thing.