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Al
23 April 2014 @ 05:33 pm
This last year has seen some changes in my life. In many of my former posts, Andrew has featured, having done many trips around Australia together, along with some longer travels overseas. We have now gone our separate ways, (but do still catch up from time to time). Initially it was rather strange but time passes, we move on, and life falls into another routine. We were always independent, lived in our own homes and were never in each others pockets.

Another change for me has been getting fitter. I have never been unfit, but I had fallen into a sedentary routine of working, eating, sleeping and not too much else. I knew that I could do with losing a bit of weight and generally toning up. I made a very conscious effort to cut down on meal portion sizes, ditch the foods that really should have been 'sometimes foods', and generally eat a healthier diet. I also joined the local gym (no excuse as I get a corporate rate working for the government), and have managed to shed 16kgs (35lbs). I am now 81kgs and I am really pleased with myself and have to say that I feel really great. Of course I had to ditch a huge part of my wardrobe and really enjoyed shopping for smaller sizes. The good thing is that my weight is stable now and I have a new energy that I just didn't have before.

I mentioned in my previous posts that I had taken up my French studies again and this is bringing me so much fun and joy. I was studying Italian, but with my work shifts I really couldn't manage more than the one regular night free a week for classes. Seeing as I had previously studied French it seemed the most obvious way to go. With this in mind I am planning an 8 week trip to France next year...I can't wait. For me half of the fun is the planning. There is so much choice of places to visit, some friends to catch up with, hopefully I get to visit some of my old haunts, and of course, all that wonderful food and wine.

More changes ahead? I hope so! Like the waves in the picture, my life is ever changing._DSC0096
 
 
Al
16 April 2014 @ 05:53 pm
This summer seems to have been endless. Month after month of heat and suffocating humidity have left me drained. Oh I know there will be some of you reading this wishing that you could have our weather, but when you are living and working with it all of the time, it really can be exhausting. Summer was dry and over 70% of the state of Queensland remains in drought. But the seasons move on and as if overnight, the humidity has gone and the air is fresher. There is a change in the air and things smell just a bit different. I've noticed that the light is clearer and sharper now that the humidity has dropped, and the skies have the look of another season.

I'm happy!

_DSC0076
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Al
01 April 2014 @ 03:47 pm
It has been SO so long since I was here that I have almost forgotten how to make a post! I was prompted to get back on lj by isledemoi who kindly sent me a message asking me to come back. I had been thinking about it but his prompt certainly helped me to put fingers to keypad...and here I am!

Life is good and I can honestly say I am happy. Much has changed over the last (many) months since I was on here, but I'm not going to bore you with that. Needless to say I am keeping busy, still working at the hospital here in Brisbane, and still enjoying travel when I can.

Yesterday was my birthday (eeeekkk can i really be 56)? and other than the fact that I had to work night duty Sunday night leaving me wiped out for my actual birthday, I had a very nice weekend. A superb Italian meal out with friends on Friday night and then a BBQ with other friends (Andrew, Nic and Iain). It was unexpected and turned out to be a really nice evening with some great presents, excellent food and company.

So, my weeks are now kept busy with some additional study; advanced French at the Institute of Modern Languages here at the University of Queensland. I am just into the start of the year and I am loving it. Fortunately I have a great teacher (unlike my previous one who was as crazy as a cut snake) and the added bonus is that the group is fairly small and really workable for study. There are just 12 of us but already some have dropped off. I think that some of them were really struggling with the level and that they have moved groups.

I will try to catch up with you all soon and I am sure that I will have plenty of reading to do to catch up on what's been happening with your journals. meanwhile I need to get going to my class. A bientot, et a la prochaine!

DSCN1025
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Al
09 September 2012 @ 08:55 am


 



I just wanted to share this beautiful sunset from the other night. I had just parked the car and looked over the driveway and was blown away with the scene. I dashed in full-pelt to get the camera; I knew it wouldn't last long.
 
 
Al
09 September 2012 @ 08:39 am
Every now and again I get sudden feelings of guilt at not posting here. But why? I have a paid account, and really, is it such an effort to put up a few pictures and to share some of what is going on in my day? I guess we all have little spare time in our lives, but I have decided that rather than see this as a chore I can use it to focus for a few moments and use it as a time for reflection, and to share.

As always things have been rather hectic with work and winter season is not the best time with all of the usual respiratory conditions that I encounter. Finally spring is here and the workload has eased a little. The weather is warming up, and all predictions are that it is going to be a hot dry summer. It has been almost 8 weeks since we had rain, and everywhere is like a tinderbox. Bushfires and grassfires have broken out here and there, but luckily no major damage and no loss of life. 25 - 29c is the norm now and at least humidity isn't an issue at this point. It will come. UGH!!!

I'm really in need of a break and I have decided to head off to San Francisco in November for 2 weeks. This will be my first visit here and I'm very excited about it. I'm never happier than when I'm travelling. Unfortunately Andrew won't be with me on this trip. With his work he was supposed to be in Abu Dhabi at the same time, and it wasn't a feasable option for me to go as well, seeing as he'd be working for the majority of the time. So, I planned this trip in November and guess what? His dates were changed and he is away earlier now. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Believe it or not I do drop in now and again and look at your posts. I'll try to be a more regular visitor.
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
 
Al
30 April 2012 @ 09:15 am
Hello... My name is AL, and I'm a recovering journaholic. :-)

I've been taking a break from live journal, as you will have noticed..
This time has given me time to concentrate of things I needed to do, chores to be completed and study that I enjoy. This time has put me in touch with certain things again which had been laying forgotten, or fallow if you will. I needed to make some adjustments. I have continued to enjoy my travelling, be it near or far, and in time I will take you on some of my travels through my posts. I think I just needed the break so that I can come back renewed and refreshed. Large amounts of time have been spent composing my blog, and then following through answering comments, and getting out to visit as often and as many as possible of other wonderful posts encountered along the blogging highways and byways.
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It's time for me to slow down a little bit in regard to all that. ‘Adventure Before Dementia’ will continue, but perhaps at a slower pace than previously. Not that I was a prolific 'poster'. The house cleaning of late has shown me that there are numerous books around me that I haven't read yet. And I love to read. Have been doing a lot more reading recently than I have since blogging monopolized large amounts of my life. It’s not always the posting that is time consuming. It’s the reading. My camera has been languishing in the living room corner, neglected. It is time to change that. I need to spend more time out with the camera, and less time in front of the PC. My Italian studies which I thoroughly enjoy, are at risk of neglect. Less burning the midnight oil leaving just one more comment in a comment box, and more time sleeping. I need to adjust certain perspectives and priorities, spend more time more in touch with the real, the immediate, and less time in the virtual realms of cyberspace.
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So, I shan't disappear from the blogosphere, which is a vibrant community I've come to love and respect and admire, but I shall be a bit less present than previously.
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Now, it's time for what I set out to blog about today, which was not the above series of reflections which simply happened spontaneously, but about a wonderful short trip to Singapore which Andrew and I made in March.


View over Marina Bay from Hotel


Singapore Flyer...and check out that hotel with a ship on the roof!


You can go onto the roof of this hotel for a $20 fee...well worth the view.


Merlion, the symbol of Singapore with city towering behind.


Yours truly!
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Current Location: Brisbane
 
 
Al
26 January 2012 @ 11:44 am

Today is Australia Day, our National Day of celebration. Being a public holiday a lot of people have the day off to celebrate in their own way. It usually involves getting together with mates and family, having a BBQ, an adequate number of beers and generally having a good time.

Happy Australia Day!

 
 
Al
21 January 2012 @ 10:23 am
Last night we took ourselves to see the new Meryl Streep movie, The Iron Lady. After we recovered from the price of the ticket ($17 each) and the fact that the cinema was like a large home theatre, we settled back to watch it. We didn't really have any ideas what angle the film would take, but the focus was mostly on Maggie Thatcher's dementia with flashbacks to events through her personal life and political career. For me, it was interesting to reflect upon many of the events that I lived through when I was still in the UK. Not so much a biographical film, it's more a portrayal of the Iron Lady and those around her dealing with dementia. Meryl Streep is fantastic as Margaret Thatcher and has to be in line for an Oscar.

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Current Location: Brisbane
 
 
Al
16 January 2012 @ 09:59 am
I've just realised that as I continue to read everyone elses journals I haven't posted for some weeks now. To be honest, not a lot has been going on and I've had very little to talk about. It's been a case of getting back to normal after Christmas and getting back into work after a very quiet period. This weekend was my first weekend off since Christmas and on Saturday Andrew and I flew down to Melbourne for a few hrs. We didn't do anything because it was a cheap trip to top up status points with our QANTAS frequent flyer and to ensure that we maintain Silver for another year. However, we did have a nice time relieving the Club lounge of several bottles of bubbles and having some scrummy snacks! I managed to read all of Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' which I had been promising myself I would read for ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it and perhaps I will read more Dickens.


Airplane Stand-off! Who will win?
 
 
Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
 
 
Al
04 January 2012 @ 08:48 am

As the new year gets underway the weather here has finally decided to warm up. Not that I want it to get any warmer; 28c and moderate humidity is just nice, but it seems that we are in for 30c +. At least it's not like some areas that are over 40c. UGH! Today I noticed that the poinciana trees have almost spent their blooms. Just a sign that the seasons are moving on. I love the vibrant, rich red of the flowers and they always look so tropical.






Hope you have a red letter day and get some red carpet treatment...but are not left red in the face!
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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: happyhappy
 
 
 
Al
01 January 2012 @ 09:49 am
This NYE was a quiet affair spent with Andrew, a meal and a few bottles of bubbles. We just didn't feel like heading off into the city. Just before midnight Andrew remembered that he had some packs of party poppers in the garage from many years ago. We opened up the pack, pulled the first string and....NOTHING! Another one...NOTHING! we went through the whole pack and managed to get 2 that worked. As midnight edged closer and 2011 started to slip away, he dashed to get the other pack. Glasses charged, poppers in hand....NOTHING! We went through 60 poppers and managed 3 'bangs'. In desperation we pulled out the streamers and threw them around, and started 2012 in fits of laughter. Hopefully a good omen for whatever the New Year holds for us all.

Happy New Year everyone, and I wish you all that you wish for yourselves.

 
 
Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
 
 
Al
31 December 2011 @ 04:10 pm


If I hear one more person say "Where HAS the year gone?" I think it may well be the last words they utter in 2011!

However, the season of "Bah, Humbug" is behind us and we can hope for a New Year of change and renewal, good health and prosperity, peace and love... and for some, another year that will pass by at break-neck speed...Where DO the weeks get to?


 
 
Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: amusedamused
 
 
Al
23 December 2011 @ 10:36 pm



Seduce:
tr.v. se·duced, se·duc·ing, se·duc·es
1. To lead away from duty, accepted principles, or proper conduct. See Synonyms at lure.
2. To induce to engage in sex.
3.
   a. To entice or beguile into a desired state or position.
   b. To win over; attract.

This past week has seen me seduced on two counts. No, nothing sexual (get your minds out of the gutter)! I'm talking about the meaning as in 3a above. I have mentioned before that I have started learning Italian (oh, there's another seduction), and the other students in the group were a lot of fun and we all got on very well. When the classes ended in November we decided to keep in touch and to try and meet up every so often for dinner and to supposedly practice a little of our Italian. Well, other than the flamboyant cries of "Ciao" and " Come va?", kisses on the cheeks and waving of hands, that's as far as the practising went! However, we have found a really superb Italian restaurant which by Brisbane city standards, is reasonably priced, convenient and does the most wonderfully seductive pasta. Their chicken penne with wine and garlic sauce is to die for as is their ravioli. There were just 5 of us and we spent a good few hours laughing and chatting, eating and drinking and generally having a great time. The owner obviously enjoyed our company as well and she kept adding into some our conversations which took her fancy...it was so funny. In any other situation it could have been considered rude, but she was just so funny....we almost invited her to pull up a chair and to have a glass of wine!


Out with the 'Belle Donne!'  (Clare, Marg, Tonessa and Wendy)

My second seduction of the week was a very different affair which was all down to Matt
supermatt41. In one of his posts he spoke about the movie "Midnight in Paris". I did some hunting around on the internet and knew instantly that I wanted to see this movie. As some of you know, I could so very, very easily have a total love affair with France, and seeing images of Paris had me hooked. I hadn't seen it advertised here at all, but interestingly, whilst at dinner with the Italian group, I happened to mention it. Marg told me that her friends were seeing it that night! A quick search brought up one cinema that was showing it at a time when I could go....!

I was the only person in the cinema and I must say that I did find it somewhat spooky sitting in a large dark room all alone! However, from the opening scenes, with Paris played out like a moving postcard, and the hauntingly beautiful and seductive (there's that word again) strains of Sidney Bechet's "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" played on a soprano saxaphone I was transported to another era. This is such a lovely refreshing film with a touch of humour, some romance and above all, Paris. Seduction at it's best!





 
 
Current Location: Brisbane
Current Music: "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere" - Sidney Bechet
 
 
Al
19 December 2011 @ 09:32 am
Well, I did it....I actually managed to get my Christmas cake all finished for a change. In other years I have been full of wonderful intentions to have a traditional rich fruit cake all baked and decorated in in time, but the truth is that I have ended up doing it out of desperation. I actually baked my cake back in September and have been 'feeding' it every now and again with brandy. It smells wonderful! Last week I covered it in marzipan and last night I made the royal icing and decorated it. Woohoo! For the perfectionists, the icing is rather lazily done, but I'm pleased with the end result. All that's left to do now is to eat it...hopefully it will be nice and moist.

All of the shopping is done and I have only a few small food items to get fresh closer to the weekend. I will make the pavlova and the profiteroles nearer to Christmas day. Other than work I can relax, enjoy the build-up and unlike many, be almost 100% stress-free.

Hope your pre-Christmas week will be relaxing. Take time to stop and enjoy the season!

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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
 
 
Al
07 December 2011 @ 10:31 am
December is here, it's the start of summer and the silly season is getting into full swing. For shops and businesses, Christmas started months ago, but with only a few weeks till Christmas Day, the decorations are now going up, lights lit and preparations made.

I always like to be well prepared and it was mid-November when I put up my tree and got the balcony decorated. It is amazing the number of people who have driven past and slowed down or stopped to look...the pics don't do it justice really. Anyway, it seems to bring them pleasure and for that I'm happy. I happen to enjoy it all as well!



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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: excitedexcited
 
 
 
Al
03 December 2011 @ 03:08 pm
Well, I finally did it. I read all of the Harry Potter series, straight through. Like many, I have read the books as they were published and I have to say that I really enjoy them. I enjoy the fantasy and the magic, I can still shed a tear when Dumbledore gets killed, and I am able to divorce the movie characters from the books. I haven't seen all of the movies, but SO much is left out of them, which is why I get so much of a thrill from the books. But it has been some time since I I have read them so doing this marathon was rather refreshing.

What shall I read next?

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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
Al
30 November 2011 @ 10:39 am
I don't know what happened. I seem to have lost my momentum to post, and yet I knew I should! I have continued to read your entries and have commented now and again, but in reality, I have had very little to commit to lj. However...whatever it was seems to have passed and I feel that I am back. I think a lot has to do with work, the time of year (it's starting to get crazy here) and I have just allowed myself 'me' time to try and focus on relaxing, time with Andrew and enjoying catching up with friends and trying to discipline myself to carry on with my learning Italian now that the term has finished. (Did I even tell you that I am learning Italian)?

Before the year draws to a close I have to post the last of our pictures of our trip to Europe. We ended up in London for a few days, and even though it was the end of May we were amazed just how nice the weather was. For me it was my first time there in many, many years, and even though it had changed, it was still all very familiar. I did, after all, live in the centre of the city for 4 years.

Somehow, Old London Town had a more European feel to it...possibly more people sitting in street cafes and wine bars, always the numerous tourists, and generally very clean from past memories. I was rather blown away by the number of signs written in Arabic and the fact that there was the Islamic Bank of Britain ... "offering the Sharia compliant alternative to banking". But I digress!

With such limited time we were determined to be tourists and we dashed, bussed, tubed and clicked our way around the usual sights. It really was fun. Enjoy a quick glimpse of London.


Trafalgar Square


The Mall - all decked out cos the US President was in town.


Buckingham Palace from St James' Park


Westminster Abbey


Houses of Parliament and the Clock Tower of Big Ben.


The London Eye


Amazing views from the 'Eye'


Towards the City and St Paul's Cathedral


The Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich (by Sir Christopher Wren)


Magnificent Painted Hall (1709)


The Prime Meridian (Greenwich Mean Time - GMT)

Time was really against us after visiting Greenwich and we dashed like idiots through the city to try and get back to Churchill's underground war rooms in Westminster. There was a signals failure on the tube so we ran across the River Thames and through Parliament Square...and we made it! The War Rooms are an amazing place to visit and it is where Churchill and his government ran the war from for a period of 6 yrs. At the end of the war they literally put down their pens, picked up their belongings and as they closed the door they switched off the lights. It remained like that, a sealed piece of history, until being opened as a museum in the 80's. It is a fantaastic place to visit. We were very limited with time but so please we saw what we did.

And then it was time to leave Europe and to return home to Australia. But not before we were able to catch up with my brother. Now we hadn't seen each other for about 20yrs, and Ol managed to get to Heathrow Airport to spend some time with us before we flew home. It was just a wonderful time and we seemed to just pick up and carry on as if we had seen each other only a few weeks before. The time flew past and once again it was time to say goodbye. I can only hope that one day he will come and visit me in Australia! (I know you read this, Ol, so COME VISIT )!!!



 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
Al
03 November 2011 @ 05:15 pm

Just had to stop by and send birthday wishes to earthmother45. Hope your day is special and that you have a great time.

HUGS



 
 
Al
24 October 2011 @ 03:46 pm
Have you ever had one of those times when you have wanted to visit a place, have been so close and yet torn between stopping or not? A place I had always wanted to visit was Carcassonne, a perfectly restored mediaeval town in the south-west of France. The trouble was that we had seen a lot of fortified towns and with our limited time, we had so many other things we wanted to see and do as well. We were on our way back to Toulouse after having visited Collioure (see earlier post), and speeding along the autoroute we saw this!




Now, I ask you, could you have carried on driving past? Wouldn't you take the very next exit and have to visit somewhere that was just screaming out to be visited? Of course, we did, and to think that we could so easily have missed the chance. After driving around the new (lower) town, we found a free carpark just below the walls of the citadel, and headed up. Carcassonne was first settled in the 2nd century BC, but it was at it's zenith in the 12th century...I get blown away by the skills and craftmanship of those architects and builders, and to think it has survived to this day. Also amazing is that people still live and work within this ancient city...what a cool place to head off to each day.




La Porte d'Aude (13th century) - the entrance, NOT Andrew!


12th century 'Count's Chateau', a castle within a castle.


Basilica of St Nazaire (11th century)


The Bells...the bells!




Carcassonne is protected by a double ring of ramparts and 53 towers.



Unfortunately time was against us as we had to get back on the road, but this brief detour was well worth it and we wouldn't have missed it for anything.
 
 
Al
23 October 2011 @ 05:31 pm
After the storms of last Saturday. I was relieved to see Sunday dawn clear and sunny. You'd never have believed that such a change could have occurred after torrential rain, flash-flooding and hail. My relief in having fine weather was due to the fact that my friend Nic and I had decided to set off early for the 1.5hr drive south to Lamington National Park. Lamington is part of the 23 million year old Tweed Volcano, centered around Mt Warning. The park is renowned for it's natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and serenity with dozens of waterfalls, ancient rainforests, stunning mountain views and walking tracks. Once parked, hiking boots securely tied and daypacks shouldered, we set off for our 25kms hike. The suggestion was to go in an anticlockwise direction on a loop track, and it turned out to be the best choice as the hardest part with most climbing was this first section. The sounds of the native birds was amazing with whoops and whistles and clicks and warbles; the wonderful sound of the whipbird, the mournful sound of the catbird and the tremendous range of sounds from the lyrebird. To be honest you are never sure what bird you are listening to.


Coomera & Yarrabilgong Falls


Keep your eyes open...but don't touch!


Yours truly crossing a stream




Ready to hide from our big feet


Mt Warning


Nic and Mt Warning


Mt Warning is the 'plug' of the ancient shield volcano which is over 100kms in diameter


Evening light over the plateau

It was a great day and the only real problem after walking for 25kms is that I had a 2hr drive home. It was well worth it though!
 
 
 
Al
22 October 2011 @ 04:33 pm
I really am here still. I can't believe that it has, yet again, been so long since I posted. I have been checking in on your posts on a regular basis, but I just haven't had much in the way of free time to respond. There has been a lot of stuff going on with work and with one thing and another I have been so busy that I have just needed to relax and catch my breath when I get home.

Spring progresses here and and the weather is pleasant, albeit somewhat changeable. We have had some spectacular storms, last Saturday being just amazing as I sat on my balcony watching the afternoon sky transform into night within moments. Over 17,000 lightning strikes were recorded. Some places had golf-ball sized hail, but just torrential rain for me.

Just as summer approaches here, most of my readers will be rapidly moving from autumn into winter, so I thought I'd post some pics from our trip to the Mediterranean earlier in the year. Collioure is an absolute gem, tucked in the south-west corner of France, within spitting distance of Spain. It is synonymous with artists, notably Matisse and Picasso, and today local artisans have set up small workshops and galleries. It is truly delightful. The 13th century fortified 'Chateau Royal' dominates the small town and forms part of the harbour wall. Narrow cobbled streets stretch away from the fishing port, leading into tiny squares and ancient buildings, all bathed in a luminous light. no wonder that artists are still drawn here today.

















 
 
Al
27 September 2011 @ 10:37 am
It's time to wish Adrian london1952  a very happy birthday. Hope you have a great day mate, and let's hope that you don't have to make your own birthday cake!

HUGS!


 
 
Al
22 September 2011 @ 09:17 am
Some of you will have seen the wonderful mirror sphere that I posted about last week. http://nzguy1.livejournal.com/82797.html I had been told that it was great to see at night, so we headed into the city a few nights ago. Anything that has lights, especially LED lights that change colour, are always great. (Does this make me gay)? There were crowds of people out, obviously enjoying the fantastic warm weather and the Brisbane Festival. This kaleidoscope of colour would be a great 'sculpture' to keep after the festival.








A little way along Southbank is the Liquid Interaction Light Scope. Imagine a long white tent with openings at either end. Step inside and you become immersed in a 30m long tunnel of pulsating light, colour, movement and reflection. Thanks to a few strategically placed “XBOX Kinect” motion capture devices, the trippy patterns beamed across over 500 seamless LED screens, attached to 4 digital servers, is altered by the movements of those passing through the tunnel in front of the sensors, creating an always unique experience.





Outside the tent sits Brisbane's own version of the 'Eye' I guess that someday we will go on it, but I can't see that it will be anywhere as impressive as the 'London Eye'. However, it looks good and seems to be popular.




Southbank Parklands

Now it was time for the big event, which has been drawing thousands of people every night to gaze over the river and towards the city - "The City of Lights" music, lights and laser show. We had no idea what to expect but it was an absolute winner with everyone. The performance involves a number of light beams and coloured lasers which gyrate and project an array of shapes and other surprises onto surrounding landmarks and two huge screens of water mist, created by jets of water shot from 4 river-based barges. A tremendous musical score accompanies the show and is synchronised to the lights. It’s perhaps a little complex and wordy to explain it’s setup, but when it’s brought all together… Wow! The pictures don't really do it justice. The sad thing is that at the end of the three-week festival (this weekend)it will finish. There is some talk about it being kept as a fixture, but I have my doubts that anyone is willing to put their hands in their pockets to ensure it stays.







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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
 
 
Al
20 September 2011 @ 04:37 pm
Well, they do say that it's all about size. Some are happy with what they have and just have it sitting on their desk, either in the office or at home. Others have it tucked neatly in a pouch or hidden discretely in their pocket or clipped to their belt, and so many have it sitting right there, on their lap. But what is very evident is that as time goes by and with new technology, it's all about getting it smaller but more powerful....much more powerful!

I am of course, referring to computers. Now what did you think I was talking about?

Melbourne Museum has the only intact first generation computer left on this planet, and is Australia's first computer designed and built in Australia. It is huge!



The comparisons with a modern laptop are amazing. Imagine if the microchip had never been invented!

 
 
Al
19 September 2011 @ 08:10 pm
A few weeks ago (YES, I know I am late posting again), we flew down to Melbourne to see the Tutankhamun exhibition. Unfortunately Melbourne is the only venue in Australia holding the exhibtion; I guess it's all to do with moving costs, availability of venues and so on. Anyway, we are being told that this is the last chance to see some of the artefacts before they return to Egypt for good...seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

The exhibition was just amazing and along with some specific items from the tomb of King Tut, there were many items from the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. I think the best part was seeing items that have been in numerous photos over the years, and to see just how well they are preserved. I'd like to think that they will still be around in another 3500 yrs. Photography wasn't allowed so the pics of the pieces are from the net.











National Geographic had an excellent display which looked at the possible cause for the death of Tutankhamun, (they still can't determine what killed him), and explained the various tests that have been carried out on the mummified body. They also had the only replica there is of Tut's mummy

 
 
 
Al
15 September 2011 @ 05:05 pm
We are just into the 2nd week of spring. I love this time of year as the weather is usually perfect...not too hot and not too cold, and yet the nights have still got a nice coolness to them which makes sleeping easy. The oppressive humidity of summer in the sub-tropics hasn't kicked in yet.

However......

.......I hope that the current temps aren't a sign of things to come!



And only 21% humidity. However, it was very pleasant as we had a slight breeze, and I found myself in the city by the river. I really wanted to do some shopping, but ended up going to see the new mirrored light sphere that is here for the few weeks of the Brisbane Festival. It plays music and is supposed to be spectacular at night. (Another visit needed).





Then it was onto Southbank where we have an inner-city beach. This was totally destroyed in the January floods, but has been renovated and is is back in business. The warm weather certainly brought some out of hibernation!




Starting summer early!


These beautiful golden trees are blossoming all over right now.



Have a great rest of the week.
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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: happyhappy
 
 
Al
15 September 2011 @ 02:01 pm
Toulouse sits nestled in the south-west corner of France, and has some tremendous scenery right on her doorstep. As with so many trips, time limits what to see and do, but one of the places on the list was the Pyrenees. I had been here over 30 years ago, and loved it then. Mind you, I'm always happy when I'm in the mountains. It was a long drive, but well worth the effort. The weather was good other than a brief cloudy period when we were right on top of the mountains. Being late spring, the countryside was lush and fresh, wild flowers everywhere, and the air was so clear. This region is remote and mostly an assortment of mountain pastures and farms, with ancient stone villages and small towns dotted here and there.
















Climbing higher through the Pyrenees towards Gavarnie


The 'Cirque de Gavarnie' with Europe's longest waterfall at 240m (787ft)






Village of Gavarnie

 
 
Al
14 September 2011 @ 11:04 am
"Pink at dawn, red at noon and mauve at dusk". This is Toulouse, La Ville Rose. After leaving Slovenia, we arrived in this unexpectedly charming city. I didn't really have any pre-conceived ideas what to expect, and Andrew thought it would be a modern city. It is after all, the fourth largest city in France. However, we found ancient narrow streets, mediaeval churches, 18th and 19th century tree-lined boulevards, an impressive main square with the classical 'Hotel de Ville', and a very relaxed and gentle feel to the place.

But for me, I wasn't bothered what the city was like because I was back in my beloved France. I guess I'm just a Francophile and know that I could so very easily live there.

We picked up our hire car at the airport and then we had to concentrate really hard to negotiate the rush-hour traffic, and with having to drive on the right side of the road! With the help of the GPS we survived the journey to our hotel. Phew! This was home for 4 days.

Bienvenue!


Le Capitole and Hotel de Ville


Main Square


Looks like the perfect place for a wine.


Must have been interesting, whatever I was looking at!




The tiered 12th century Basilique St-Sernin

Come back soon as we head off to the Pyrenees. Au revoir.
 
 
Al
29 August 2011 @ 08:47 pm
I just had to share this news headlines from the UK  with you all.... TWO bungling security workers were fired after fitting an electronic tag to a criminal's false leg, The Sun reported today.   
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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: gigglygiggly
 
 
Al
24 August 2011 @ 12:59 pm
Other than trying to keep up to date with posting pics of our trip to Europe I am also trying to post other happenings. Lately I seem to have had little spare time. I have been reading lj and commenting when I can. Anyway, I think it's time to bring things up to date.

Can it really be a month ago when we celebrated Andrew's birthday? We went to a restaurant which has to be one of the city's best kept secrets. The place is called 'Garuva' and unless you knew about it, you'd never know it was there. There isn't any sign to tell you it's a restaurant, and the doors are just black and unmarked. They don't advertise, and it seems to be word-of-mouth to learn about this place. From the street you can only see the entrance which can only be seen when it's open...a sort of tropical garden with low lighting through the greenery. Once inside the lighting is very subdued and each table area is divided by flimsy opaque curtains, and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are entering some strange boudoir. The place has an oriental/Asian feeling, and the food reflects this.



No, it's not a bordello!




Nic (L) and the Birthday Boy


Yours truly and Frank


Yummmmmmmm!

Two weeks ago we had an extended weekend in Sydney. A fun part of the trip was flying there on the domestic sector of an international flight. This meant that we flew on a 747 from the international airport...made us feel as if we really were going somewhere distant and exotic! We had premium economy seats for the 1.20hr flight, so were more than pleased. We didn't have any specific agenda on our first day, and just enjoyed wandering around, spending a morning in the excellent aquarium, and for Andrew the thrill of visiting the hobby store to browse the aircraft models! I spent my time in the CD store and got myself a very fine recording of "The Magic Flute", and with $20 off the price. Bargain!

Of course I got to see my favourite building of all time - The beautifully stunning Sydney Opera House.



As you can see the weather was kind to us, and we only had a few showers the whole weekend. But we really wanted it to be nice for the next day when we had booked in to do a walking tour of 'The Rocks'. We have been to this area before as you can see from the link http://nzguy1.livejournal.com/47321.html but wanted to learn more of the history. The best thing about this tour was that we were a small group of 8, and the guide was a bit of an expert and author of several papers and books about the history of early Sydney. It was fascinating hearing his tales and it put a new perspective on the area and the history. Fortunately it stayed fine for our walk.



Late that evening we managed to catch up with John jottobear and Jon jccub1 for a great meal and a few drinks at the Harts pub, near The Rocks. This old pub serves hand crafted beers, which I have to say, were excellent. As always it was so good to catch up with the Boys!

Winter is almost at an end here and before long we will be complaining about the heat and humidity which is a feature of our summers. Our winter has been wonderful with endless weeks of wall-to-wall blue skies and sunshine. The days have been about 20-24c, and it has all been very bearable indeed. Making the most of this weather, our friend Nic and I went to Mt Glorious a few weeks ago for a walk in this sub-tropical rainforest. Unfortunately the walk turned out to be a 5km stroll, but it was still very nice to be out and about in the fresh air and the countryside. The great thin is that this region is only 45 mins from the city. The bird life was amazing.











And that's all for now. I must try to post as I go along to avoid such a job. Come back soon. I'll leave you with a pic from my balcony.

 
 
Current Location: Brisbane
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Al
19 August 2011 @ 09:46 am
I'm so pleased you decided to come back after yesterdays post on Venice, and as promised, we are off to the small island of Burano. This colourful island sits in the Venetian Lagoon, about a 40 min waterbus ride from Venice. The trip there and back was a nice chance to sit and relax and rest the feet after all the walking that invariably happens when you visit a city like this. It also gave us a different perspective on the city, seeing it from the water. What is very noticeable with all of the islands in the lagoon is just how low they are and it's not hard to see why any rise in sea levels would be devastating to these communities. Burano became synonymous with lace-making (Murano with glass-making). People often mix them up!

So, Off to Burano.


Approaching Burano. Yes, the bell-tower of the church really is leaning that much!








The main piazza


Amazing to think that this is also a playground for the children.










Coming back into Venice





As night fell over the Canale Grande, and after a relaxed evening dinner and several wines, it was time to say 'Arrivederci'. With tired feet, aching calves, our minds full of the fantastic images we'd seen, we climbed aboard our train and once again we were  whisked through the night, crossing borders and back to Ljubljana. We'd been in Venice for 14hrs and had another 5hr train trip. Once again we were very lucky to have a compartment to ourselves and managed a few hours sleep before we fell out of the train where Tomaz was dutifully waiting for us.
 
 
Al
18 August 2011 @ 05:01 pm
Of all the places in the world that can conjure up delight and emotion in me, Venice is right up there at the top of the list. We have all seen it in TV shows and movies, any half-decent travel doco', and many, many photos, but for me, nothing comes close to being there. The last time I was in Venice was in the 70's, and being so close was an opportunity that just couldn't be passed up. I had waxed lyrical for ages about going back to Venice and I was more than excited about having Andrew experience this magnificent city. Like so many people, he worried that it would be a stinking city, rather than a sinking city. I assured him that visiting in May wouldn't pose any problems (fingers crossed)!

The plan was that we would drive there with Tomaz and Iggy, as we were still in Slovenia, and the trip only being a few hours by road. Their work and time didn't allow it, and our only reasonable option was to get the train. The one downside to this was that it left at 02.27hrs, arriving in Venice at 07.30. So, like a couple of spies fleeing the country in a night-time escape, Tomaz dropped us at the station in Ljubljana, and we boarded our train. I love the old compartment style trains; six seats with fusty electric smells, dusty old seats with springs in all the right places, and those ridiculously useless dim globe lights above each seat, which makes any hope of reading impossible. I am always put in mind of a scene from an Agatha Christie murder. But I digress. We had the compartment to ourselves and managed to get some sleep before the first rays of sun broke through the window, and before long we were crossing the bridge that would lead us to Venice.

I guess that when we travel we all have our own anxieties. Andrew's worry was would we get off at the right stop. I assured him we would, and I don't think he believed me when I said that the train stops right in the city. It really can't go any further, because if it did, we would have been in the Grand Canal! It has to be one of the best settings for any train station in the world. You alight from the train, exit the station doors and the canal is right there, as large as life. Magnificent! And would you believe the first smell we encountered?.......fresh cooked waffles!

It was a very long day and we spent some of the time on the quaint and colourful island of Burano. I am going to split this post into Venice and Burano, and I make absolutely no apology for the many pics. So, pull up a chair and enjoy. Or if you are like Matt supermatt41 you will get yourself a large bowl of gelato!


Early morning tranquility near St Mark's Square, before the crowds!








The Grand Canal


Rialto Bridge






Bell Tower and (R) the Doge's Palace


St Mark's Cathedral











Time to get the vaporetto (waterbus) over to Burano. Come back again soon.

Ciao!
 
 
Al
09 August 2011 @ 10:41 pm
.......lj has me feeling frustrated cos I have hardly been able to access it. Either it's 'down' or it's loading too slowly. Then I can't log onto friends pages. WTF?

I will post soon and catch up with everything that's been happening.
 
 
Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
 
 
Al
25 July 2011 @ 11:48 am

Cold wet weather was forecast and we didn't really think that they knew what they were talking about. The day had been glorious and sunny and warm and about 26c. The evening sunset was a delight and we happily climbed into bed. Oh how wrong we were not to believe Tomaz and Iggy! We woke to pouring rain, heavy skies and a very much cooler feel to the weather. We had made plans to go out with Iggy, so off we set, determined that the rain wouldn't put a damper on the day.

Destination Postojna Caves, the most visited tourist cave, and the largest karst cave in Europe. This huge cave system has over 20kms of passages, galleries and chambers, with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations, creating an underground wonderland. Because of their size they have a very well organised shuttle train to take you 3kms into the cave.
 

 


On the train. It looks like a scene from "Back to the Future"






Concerts are held in this huge cavern



About 9kms from the caves is the Predjama Castle. The first castle on this site was built in the 12th century, and over the centuries it has been modified and renovated. This unique castle is perched in a 123m high cavern below and overhanging cliff and above a swallow hole of the stream. It has the feel of being carved from the rock and being part of the natural scenery. Having a miserable wet day added to the atmosphere of the place, giving some sense of just how dismal life was back then. It might be a castle but there wasn't any pampering back in the 12th or 15th century; no electricity, no plumbing, poor heating, and a hard life for most except the owner.






Iggy and myself




The village of Predjama

So, it turns out that the weathermen and Tomaz and Iggy were right. It was cold.....very cold!



Thankfully the next day, normal service was resumed and it was back to 26c.
 
 
Al
21 July 2011 @ 04:16 pm
Have you ever chatted with someone via the internet, never physically met them, but just know that they are really nice people? Then comes the reality of meeting them and it more than confirms that they are great people. Today I had the chance, finally, to catch up with Shelley notsogreynomad and Dave. Instead of being on their travels in some far flung part of Australia, they are nearer home, and it was the perfect opportunity to meet up for lunch. The time flew past with chatting and laughing, and with a belly fit to burst after a lovely lunch, we went our separate ways. Good times always go so fast!

Thanks guys...hope we get to meet up again soon.



The wine bottles had water in them...just in case you were wondering!
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Current Location: Brisbane
Current Mood: happyhappy
 
 
 
Al
19 July 2011 @ 09:38 am
Here in Queensland we can drive for over 20hrs and still be in the same state. In Slovenia we were able to drive to other countries in about 2hrs! Even though I am European and have travelled extensively in Europe, I still get a thrill at being able to hop in and out of different countries so easily, and these days, borders are really non-existant.

This trip with Tomaz was to the Adriatic coast and through some beautiful gentle countryside. The mountains were quickly left behind as we drove towards the unexpected delights of Piran. Slovenia has a very small coastline, squashed in between Italy and Croatia, and the ancient preserved city of Piran is an absolute jewel. It was a perfect day. The sun beat down upon us and the blue of the Adriatic seemed intensified. There was a beautiful clarity of light which made the whitewashed buildings with their terracotta tiles stand out as if in 3D. The best place to get a feel for the general view of the city was from the hill where the Cathedral of St George stands.



The main square, Tartini Square, has a very Italian feel, which is hardly suprising because the Venetian Empire had a huge influence on Piran from the 13 - 18th centuries. The square leads on from the very picturesque harbour.





The thing I love about these old cities is just wandering around the old streets and imagining what it must have been like centuries ago. Many places had that feel of time having stood still.





All this wandering about was exhausting (LOL) and it was essential that we stopped to soak up the view and ambiance (along with soaking up some of the local brew)!



Piran, as with many other European cities, is like an open-air museum, and like many others has old fortifications. Parts of the wall remain as a testament to their effectiveness in repelling the Turks (and othrs over the years) and have been standing since the late 1400's.



Looking along the coast we could see Italy and the city of Trieste...we should go there! So that's just what we did. You have to admit, it does sound good to say we will just pop into Italy for a coffee! As always, Tomaz was the perfect guide and took us to the impressive main square with its magnificent 19th century buildings.









 
 
Al
30 June 2011 @ 01:35 pm
Almost deserted roads, fantastic scenery and great company. What could be better? Well, this was all possible when we were in Slovenia, and spent the day visiting some of the mountains and lakes with Tomaz paterson_si. One of the great things about this small country is that you can access such a variety of scenery and landscapes all within a few hours drive.

About one hour from Ljubljana lies Triglav National Park, a natural wonderland of lakes and streams, snow-capped mountains and lush forests. We did a gentle climb through a cool wooded area, dotted with wild spring flowers, catching a glimpse now and again of the surrounding mountains.











Taking the same route back our next stop was lake Bohinj, a pretty place and a good photo stop.







All of this scenery and fresh air was making us rather peckish...enjoying yourself is very hard work, let me tell you! A great suggestion from Tomaz was to stop at Lake Bled for a beer and cake...and such good cake it was too! The cake is a speciality of Bled and is a light butter dough base with sweet vanilla and cream, and is gorgeous. Lake Bled is the jewel of the region, and is one of those places where relaxation comes easily, especially with the wonderful weather and a belly full of cake and beer! Time for another walk I think.





 
 
Al
21 June 2011 @ 09:48 am
I have to wonder sometimes about the benefits of having a really great holiday, especially when after a few days back at work I am left feeling as if I was never away from the place. Of course, I am just pondering, because I wouldn't have given up the trip for all the tea in China, and the memories and images remain. It is now a few weeks since we returned from Europe and I am very conscious that I am way behind in making posts.

As Madrid and Spain was left behind us we flew east to Slovenia and the capital, Ljubljana. Our routing meant that we had to fly to Munich and then onto Slovenia and we had fantastic views over the Alps.





Landing in bright afternoon sunshine, we were met by the lovely Tomaz [info]paterson_si and after a short drive we arrived at our 'home' for the next week. It is always an absolute delight to meet people from lj and finally meeting Tomaz and Iggy was great. I can tell you that they are the lovliest people you could ever hope to meet.

So, our hosts took us all over the place and showcased their beautiful little country perfectly. There was so much to see and do and such variety of scenery, but I'll start with the very pretty capital, Ljubljana.























Off to the lakes and mountains next time.
 
 
Al
08 June 2011 @ 09:23 am
One of the great joys of Spain was the ease and efficiency of the rail system. High-speed trains cut the time dramatically, so there was no reason at all for us not to visit the ancient city of Toledo. Within the walls of this former capital lives two millennia of history, and there are certainly plenty of buildings and monuments to support its former status. To be able to construct these magnificent buildings without the equipment we have these days still blows me away. The fact that much of it remains is a true testament to their skills.

Anyway, after a 30 min train trip we arrived, and the weather couldn't have been better. As with a lot of places, the station is just out of the city, and we opted for an open top tourist bus to take us into the centre. It was the best 6 euro we have ever spent. The drive was guided with stops along the way, and the best thing of all was that we took a scenic route which gave us perfect views of the whole city and included stops along the way for photos.


Main view of Toledo with the Alcazar centre and cathedral to the left
















Town Hall




Looking towards the Cathedral








The Alcazar, situated at the highest point of the city

Time to move on from Spain. Next stop Slovenia. Come back soon!
 
 
Al
02 June 2011 @ 08:56 am
Much of my life has been spent in Europe, having been born and bred in the UK. I was born and lived in a village, surrounded by countryside and a large wooded area. One of the things I had 'forgotten' about was the smell and sound of a European spring. It is very different from the sub-tropics of Australia! Birds were singing their hearts out and the meadows were lush carpets of wild flowers. The air was clear and fresh.

So, when our friend David took us on a day trip out of Madrid to a Natural Park, I was immediately transported back to my youth. About 130kms north of the capital is the Hoces del Rio Duraton, a fantastic river gorge. The feature here is of course, the 100 metre high gorge, a 12th century chapel (Hermitage of San Frutos)and one of the largest colonies in Europe of Griffon Vultures. As we drove along a dusty hole-studded dirt track, we crossed a mostly featureless, bare region, dotted here and there with small villages, isolated and crumbling, huddled securely around the ever present church. In the distance we glimpsed the last of the winter snows, clinging precariously to the peaks of the encircling mountains. Who would have thought that such beauty lay hidden, waiting to be discovered!





Walking down towards the Gorge. You can just see the 12th century chapel


Again look for the chapel on the left-hand cliff










These beautiful Griffon Vultures with their 2 metre wingspan were majestically manoevering all around us, some of them just above our heads.








The Mediaeval village of Sepulveda