Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Raiders Members

We've been Raiders (rugby league) members for four years now and every year in addition to your season pass you receive a pack containing a cap and other merchandise. It's always exciting to see what gift(s) the club will send you. One year it was a scarf another year a rug and we've had gloves and bags too. This year they sent green ponchos. On the face of it not that much of an appealing gift, but given that we've sat in the pouring rain at several games probably quite a sensible present for long-suffering Raiders supporters. 

Hopefully the club will enjoy more success than last year where, despite a strong finish to the season Raiders finished outside of the top 8. Hopefully our ponchos will go relatively un-worn as well!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Trip to London Bridge

Today was a public holiday in Canberra so we decided to head out to London Bridge a limestone karst which consists of a wonderful arch hollowed out by the Burra Creek. It's in the Burra Creek nature reserve and not that far from Googong.

I'd seen pictures of it for years, but we'd never visited. It wasn't a very long drive from home and despite its close proximity to Canberra and the fact that it was a public holiday there was nobody around. The arch is a short 10 minute walk from the car park.

We'd taken our swim things (I'd hoped the water under the arch was going to be higher). Actually it was only really good for paddling but I suspect it gets higher in winter. There's some great looking caves surrounding the arch including one which had a rock formation shaped like a lizards head.

Things I had read before going suggested not entering the caves as they had been/were aboriginal sacred sites, so we respected that. There was plenty to see without disturbing things.

When we had arrived a couple of large lizards had scurried away and when we left a flock of black cockatoos flew overhead. It's good living in the bush capital.

the path from the car park

Friday, January 25, 2019

Canberra Capitals (play-offsl)

Intermittently we watch Canberra Capitals (women's basketball games). We should go more frequently as the sport is fast and skilful and the atmosphere they generate at the game is pretty decent.

The club has been in the doldrums for the last couple of seasons, but this year it had renewed vigour with a new playing line up and coach. 

Typically games are played in front of a couple of hundred die-hard supporters, but Capitals march to the finals meant they played (and defeated Perth Lynx by 91 to 76) in front of nearly 2,000 fans. In doing so they earned themselves a grand-final against Adelaide.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Coerver Competition Day

Eli has been playing football throughout the summer with an organisation called Coerver. It's a Dutch system and based on close ball skills. His skills have improved enormously over the last few months and it's a tightly run and well organised programme. The commitment has been high (he's had to play twice a week) but his appetite for the game is huge.

As it's nearly coming to an end they ran a one day four-a-side competition (small goals, no goalkeepers). Eli's team did well - the standard of some of the boys and girls is really fabulous.

The sessions are held at the University Canberra which has lovely pitches (unlike most of the rest of Canberra's grass which tends to be burnt at this time of year)

(Eli is stood far right)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Farewell to Melbourne Metro YHA

We said our farewells to Melbourne and headed back to Canberra. Melbourne Metro made us feel so welcome and I'm sure we'll be back. It was such a friendly place (and we nearly won the quiz on our first night there!)

Friday, January 18, 2019


It must be over 30 years ago since I last went to St.Kilda south of Melbourne's CBD. I can remember back then thinking it was a bit scruffy, but it's taken a steep move upmarket since then - now it's definitely more 'shabby chic' and I enjoyed it a lot more this time around. As with many places it's probably had a face-lift or two over the past three decades(!) and the houses and shops have become gentrified with dozens of gourmet pie shops, delicatessens and thai restaurants having sprung up along St.Kilda's shopping strip. 

It was Luna Park, Melbourne's famed theme park that took us out to St.Kilda. Both of the kids (Audrey in particular) are thrill seekers and so search out theme parks whenever I let them. Ancient Luna Park is a bit run-down in truth. It trades off a 'nostalgia' vibe, but in reality is just a bit old and outdated.

Nevertheless the kids enjoyed the rickety funfair rides and we spent almost a whole day within the confines of its walls. I'm sure at some point in the near future it will be developed (into luxury housing) as it now occupies an enviable spot by the St.Kilda beach and its land value must be a thousand-fold what they take on admissions each year. 

When we came out of the park we stumbled on a beach volleyball tournament going on on the sand in the early evening so we watched that for a while. 

As we sat on the promenade we recalled Paul Kelly singing about St.Kilda and watching the sun go down from the esplanade (well I did anyway, the kids just told me to stop singing in public as it was embarrassing them).

Luna Park

could collapse at any minute

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Australian Open

It was our second visit to the Australian Open, having first visited two years ago. Although I'd looked at Air BnB's in the city I decided instead to book us into Melbourne Metro YHA. It was a great place to stay, cheap, pretty central and had a fabulous roof top terrace which was perfect for enjoying breakfast with views back across the city. I'm sure there must be much more luxurious (and expensive) hotels with far worse views than the YHA had.

I'd booked ahead for the tennis which meant we had great tickets for the Rod Laver Arena (essentially Centre Court) and Margaret Court (for a night session).

Tennis is an enthralling sport, it's easy to just watch five minutes play and then walk away, but conversely it's also just as easy to get sucked into every single point and watch every second of every point.

During our two days at the tournament were lucky enough to see Rafal Nadal (he beat an Australian, Mathew Ebden), Sharapova, Canberran  Nick Kyrgios, as well as a mammoth Andy Murray game which went on until around 11.30pm on our first night.

The tournament has a different 'feel' to Wimbledon, but has no less stature. There's loads to do around the outside of the courts and it's sometimes as fun to people-watch as it is to watch the tennis. I hope we have many more trips there together as a family.

Our roof top terrace in Melbourne Metro YHA

Rod Laver Arena in the background

Inside Rod Laver (the kids were so amused by Rafal Nadal pulling his knickers out of his bum)

Rod Laver statue

watching Andy Murray in Melbourne Arena

This is what you look like after nearly four hours of an Andy Murray game..
Our 2nd night session court-side at Margaret Court Arena

Sunday, January 13, 2019


In early January we visited Melbourne. Our main aim was to see the Australian Open, but we visited other attractions along the way. One was ArtVo in Melbourne's rapidly developing Dockland's area.

It bills itself as an 'immersive art gallery' which means you can actively get involved in the many (incredible) paintings. It's so unlike a normal gallery which can at times be a bit stuffy. Certainly there's no worries about touching the pictures at this place. On the way to ArtVo I told A&E we were going to a gallery. They were actually ok with it (I guess I've dragged them round enough for them to realise that there's no point complaining) but when we got to ArtVo they realised just how different it was. All three of us absolutely loved it and we spent a whole morning there. The staff were all so friendly and on some paintings gave us tips for where best to stand to capture the perfect photo.

It's perfect for the Instagram generation and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these pop up around Australia/the world before too long.

This video features just some of the paintings - I think there are over 50 in all - so this is an edited version!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Love and Desire at the National Gallery

With Eli at a play-date Audrey and I rode our bikes to the National Gallery. 

The gallery is currently showing a huge range of Pre-raphaelite paintings from the Tate. I've long loved the Pre raphaelites. They were a group of English painters, poets and art critics founded by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Their paintings have a focus on nature and realism. Although the group was largely secular many of their paintings draw on religious stories or famous scenes from history. There are also a lot of beautiful female portraits (many of them the flame haired Elizabeth Siddal or Jane Morris) typified by their big pouty lips and slightly far-away/mournful gazes. I've loved the paintings for years as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a long standing permanent collection and I used to wander round there rather than studying in the library next door.

Audrey liked the paintings but not to the degree that I did. She liked the landscape (or is it seascape) below painted by John Brett of the English channel. The gallery had lit it fabulously well and it was beautiful. 

'Work' by Ford Maddox Brown has been my favourite painting for decades, I love it's social commentary and complex but elegant composition. There's a couple of copies of it (a big one and a small one - I've seen both previously) and it was kind of like meeting up with an old friend when I saw it in the exhibition. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Blooming garden beds

Our raised beds have been having a spectacular year. As climate change begins to bite even more December was unusually wet but also hot. It meant that our tomatoes thrived and the watermelons and rock melons and zucchinis (courgettes) I planted prospered. 

I'd never tried growing melons before, but whether it was beginners luck or just good (horse poo) compost they absolutely flourished.

I love growing cherry tomatoes. This year I put in probably 20 or 30 plants and was rewarded with hundreds of the round scarlet vegetables (or are they fruit?). It's a joy to see A&E gorging on them and knowing that they only have to go as far as our garden in order to pick them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Jan 1 - sunrise from the top of Booroomba Rocks!

For the last couple of years we've watched sunrise on Jan 1 from the top of Booroomba Rocks. It's a nice walk to the top, slightly steep in places but easy to do in about 20-30 minutes. The views from the top are spectacular. 

What makes the walk fun is that you're somewhat obliged to chase the sunrise (the race is on to get to the top before the sun pokes its head above the mountains). Eli was a bit unwell at the top this year (hence his slightly sad face in the pictures). Hopefully we'll make it up here again again next year!