Wednesday, 25 April 2012


It is April 25, ANZAC day in Australia today.  The Australian version of Remembrance Day; a sober reflection of the sacrifices made by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).  

Australia takes ANZAC day VERY VERY seriously with dawn services at the Shrine of Remembrance attended by thousands (35,000 in a drenching rain this morning), and parades and events throughout the city.  J's class has been marking ANZAC day all week with assemblies and relevant curriculum. 

Today, the two of us made batches of the ubiquitous and very popular ANZAC biscuit.  He is writing an information report about the meaning of ANZAC day and the Battle of Gallipoli. 

In addition, he had to read this poem and write a reflection of what it meant to him.  My grandfather fought at Flanders in Belgium and I am always sobered when I read this haunting rumination by Canadian soldier John McCrae.  It matters to me that Australia believes so strongly in commemorating those that fell and those who served, and it matters to me equally that they pass on those heartfelt sentiments to J's generation lest they forget.

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Kinda Like Tofino but with Koalas

Just finished the end of the second week of J's April school holiday.  I'm in the middle of all the fun that is unpacking, laundry, and re-organization.  Unpacking, laundry, and re-organization following our return from our second Annual April Apollo Bay short break with my mum in tow this time.

We lucked out with some spectacularly warm Fall weather, dare I say,  it was hot!  How best to explain Apollo is along the Great Ocean Road on Victoria's surf coast about 3 hours west of Melbourne.  The surf coast is most known for the spectacular surfing at Torquay (home of Rip Curl, Quicksilver and Billabong brands), Jan Juc, and pretty much any of the little surf towns and at any of the beaches lining this visually stunning and winding route which stretches 243 kilometres from Geelong to Warnambool.  It is lined with natural splendours galore, but Apollo Bay itself, is an unassuming quaint, quiet fishing village.  If you are Canadian, you will understand this analogy - think Tofino but warmer and with Koalas.

We rented a sweet little house with a Passionfruit vine winding around one side of the property and from here, beachwalked, ate lunch many times at our favorite Cafe 153, witnessed the amazing 12 Apostles at sunset, read our books whilst half-watching J at the skateboard park, chased Murphy into the surf, let mum mooch in and out of the shops on the little high street, and generally relished in lots of family time.

What J is doing now
What J WANTS to be doing now

One really memorable adventure was driving into Cape Otway, the southern tip of Western Victoria where the Southern Ocean meets the Tasman Sea.  The forests toward the Cape are home to a colony of Koala and we took a short stroll finding dozens snoozing in the trees or munching away on Eucalyptus.  We followed this with an off-road bounce down to a lightly travelled beach called Blanket Bay, one of the stopping points on the 91km Great Ocean Walk.

Another fave was a morning spent at our favorite Australian beach, Johanna Beach, a remote and wildly beautiful stretch of sand that is a balm to any troubled soul.

Our lovely Johanna Beach

Johanna Beach

Later in the day, we carried on to the 12 Apostles, an iconic Australian landmark.  They are a collection of limestone rocks jutting out of ocean adjacent to the massive limestone cliffs that line this part of the Great Ocean Road.  They have been formed and carved by erosion and the harsh weather conditions of the Southern Ocean.  We ambled about exploring various gorges before arriving to view the Apostles at sunset.

The Loch Ard Gorge from above

The Loch Ard Gorge from below and a little unexpected splashing

The 12 Apostles

We took out time driving home at the end of the week, stopping at Wye River for another beach walk, and at fashionable Lorne for lunch, another beach walk, and another go at the Skateboard park for J.

Friday, 6 April 2012

A Day in the Life of a School Holiday

We're at the end of the first week of J's two-week April school holiday.  C2 took the wise road and high-tailed it to the US of A for a week - coward!  That left my mum and I as event planners and we implemented an action-packed week designed to amuse the little man and crowd out any desire to lounge in front of the TV or computer.

Wednesday was a particular highlight and all three of us declared it the winner amongst a week of good ones.  To recap:

9:00  Walked Murphy in Hedgley Dean gardens, adjacent to our house, and listened to the Cockitoos, Lorikeets, and Doves welcome the morning.

9:30  Shoo J out of the house

9:35  Go back into the house for sunglasses
9:36  Go back into the house for market tote
9:37  Go back into the house for Grandma

9:38  On our way to Noisette, a French cafe in Port Melbourne about 20 minutes away.  All enjoyed spectacular drive along Beach Road and Beaconsfield Parade admiring long lines of Palms and the sparkling water of Port Philip Bay.  The Spirit of Tasmania ferry was docked for our viewing pleasure.

10:00 Followed my GPS's very circuitous directions, parked the car, and still walked 15 minutes to Noisette.

10:15 BREAKFAST consisting of: Viennoise with smoked salmon, prosciutto, baguette, croissantes aux amandes, jam beignets, hot cross buns, hot chocolate (for J), many skinny cafe lattes for Grandma and I.  Healthy it wasn't, reminiscent of breakfasts in France it was!

11:45  At the South Melbourne Market where we picked up fruit, veg, flowers, a new sofa pillow, new dish towels, and a cactus for J.

12:45 Walked across the street to the Chef's Hat Kitchen Supply Shop to restock some worn kitchen items including new kitchen measuring cups, cake pans, 2q All-Clad pot, cutting boards, baking trays, and pastry bag and tips.

2:00 I hit my shopping patience limit and danced from foot to foot trying to hurry Grandma up.  Grandma still raring to shop deeply ignored me while deeply examining a wooden bowl.

2:30  Finally on our way home.  Grandma went to nap, tired out from shopping.  I happily added to my pile of hard rubbish ready for pickup next Monday and purred at my new All-Clad pot.

4:20  Hurridly organized a picnic and shooed J and Murphy out of the house

4:35  Go back into the house for sunglasses
4:36  Go back into the house for towels
4:37  Go back into the house for Grandma

5:00  At St. Kilda beach, nibbling on ham/cheese/pickle sandwiches and fruit, throwing a tennis ball for Murphy, marvelling at J's swimming, and thoroughly enjoying a late summer resurgence in the middle of this Australian autumn.

5:30  Ooohing and aaaahing at an amazing sunset over the Bay.

6:00-7:00   See 5:00  but also laugh at J's judo rolls in the sand, played monkey-in-the-middle with J and Murphy and tried not to think about how much sand was about to get deposited in my car.

7:00  Dried everybody off as much as possible and took leisurely walk along the boardwalk to the St. Kilda pier where we joined many, many others in a balmy stroll admiring the city lights, the glow off the water, and the full moon.

7:30  Walk back to the Beachcomber Restaurant and Cafe on the boardwalk and get ice cream.

8:30  Home - J showered and in bed reading, Grandma showered and sitting down to watch last two episodes of Downton Abbey Season 1 with me.

A near-perfect day.