Tuesday, 29 April 2014

ANZAC Day 2014

My family has honoured the ANZACS in Australia,
at dawn services and parades.
In China we always went to the service
at the Australian Consul General's residence.
In England we had our own little service 
at our village memorial.

The service and sacrifice of our ANZACS have made this possible.

This year we found ourselves in Germany, 
the girls were on holiday and my Kiwi
husband took the day off.

We headed to Niederzwehren Cemetery in Kassel
to pay our respects to our fallen.

First World War Commonwealth servicemen who died all over Germany 
were bought together into four permanent cemeteries in 1922-23. 
Niederzwehren Cemetery was one of these and has the plots of 1,796
 soldiers of the Commonwealth  buried or commemorated  there.

Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel Germany

Here rest soldiers of
the British Empire who died in Germany
during the Great War 1914-1918
The land which is consecrated by
their graves has been acquired
in perpetuity by agreement with
the German people so that their remains
may be honoured for ever.

Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel Germany

This cemetery was constructed by
the governments of
The British Commonwealth of Nations
and its maintenance is in the hands of
British caretakers.
An agreement has been entered into between
the governments of Germany
and of the British Commonwealth of Nations
enabling them to construct in their own way 
and maintain through their own caretakers
the cemeteries in which their dead
of the Great War now rest.

Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel Germany

We chose the grave of Private William John Smith to place our flowers. He was born in England, moved to Australia and was a farm labourer before he joined the Australian Army. My paternal Grandfather, John C Smith was also born in England, moved to Australia and was a farmer before he joined the Australian Army. He was in the 11th Battalion and was one of the first to land on the shores of Gallipoli. Unlike William John Smith and so many others, my Grandfather came home. If he hadn't I wouldn't have been laying flowers in Germany with his two great granddaughters 99 years later.

Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel Germany

All these young men sacrificed so much
for a better life for us all.

Kassel, Germany

Lest We Forget

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter, Frohe Ostern from Frankfurt

The lead up to Easter here in our part of the world was gorgeous, 
the spring cherry blossoms, tulips and daffodils emerging.
The forest exploding with green, the air filled with birdsong.
The Easter Egg trees!

I love this tradition, new to me, all the neighbours had them...

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

So we put together our own Oster Ei Baum and were very happy to 
join in the festivities!

Until a kind neighbour hinted that that was more of a Christmas Tree, 
people may laugh,
would be better if the eggs hung down!

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

So we swapped our eggs over to a more appropriate tree
in our garden!

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

We didn't stop there, we grabbed some branches from the forest and
decorated an 'inside' Oster Ei Baum too

Easter Egg Tree Germany 2014

We had seen on Facebook, instructions on making Easter Egg decorations with a small egg, a bit of wool, 
glue and a water balloon.

Easter Egg Craft Germany 2014

...and it worked

Easter Egg Craft Germany 2014

Our Easter was topped off with the Easter Bunny delivering us all
a Red Tulip Humpty Dumpty. Easter would not be Easter without one of these Aussie delights.
Thanks Easter Bunny!

Red Tulip Humpty Dumpty

Wherever you are in the world, whatever your beliefs,
I wish you all a very happy, safe Easter,
full of love and laughter.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Forty Winks Friday, Pull up a chair and have a nap!

Spring in Shanghai brings blossoms, beautiful weather and cane furniture. 
These rickshaws, piled high with cane furniture start appearing at the same time as the cherry blossoms,
but stay on into the heat of summer.

The merchants pull their carts throughout the city, find a shady spot,
sit back and wait for the customers to come.
After negotiating a price, they will deliver your new furniture to your door.

These guys work extremely long hours and pull exceedingly 
heavy loads over large areas...if anyone has earned a quick
Forty Winks, it is the
Cane Furniture Guys of Shanghai!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Spring has sprung in the forest

In the middle of March, this is what my daily walk in the forest
with our dog looked like...

Forest Hofheim, Germany March 2014

In the middle of April, this is what our walk looks like....

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

You can almost see the buds unfolding around you. 

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

The forest awakening for the summer.

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

Leaves unfurling in the warmth of the sun.

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

New spring growth bringing new life and birdsong to the forest.

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

Reaching up, saturating the surroundings with the most intense green.

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

New life, fresh air and blue skies, just lovely.

Forest Hofheim, Germany April 2014

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

We learnt very soon after our move to Germany that shops are all closed on a Sunday, as it is a day of worship and rest. It is also forbidden to hang washing outside, mow the lawn and wash the car on a Sunday!

So we have embraced what the locals do and head out for a walk in a forest. Last Sonntag (Sunday), we headed over to Frauenstein Village which is surrounded by vineyards and cherry orchards as the cherry trees were in bloom. Was lovely to walk amongst the trees, light breezes sending flurries of blossoms all over us.

On a warm, sunny day it was a popular destination but the area has many walking paths to wander along. We mostly had the area to ourselves and were free to enjoy the last of the season's blossoms in a serene environment. 

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

Cherry Blossoms in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

We then followed a track up the hill and into the forest. The vibrant green of the new spring leaves stunning and bright. We followed arrows to what we thought may be a restaurant. We delighted in the fresh air and walk amongst the trees.

Forest Walk in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

The arrows led us to a lovely clearing with no signs of a restaurant, just a sign that we couldn't read and a bench to rest on. We let the dog of his lead and threw him a ball for a while before we headed back down the hill.

Forest Walk in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

When we got home I put the text that was on the sign into Google Translate, expecting it to be some sort of camp site. This is what was translated:

"This place is a funeral site, therefore please only enter sunrise and sun-down transition. Please leash dogs. Please do not smoke. Cycling and horse riding is forbidden"

We had inadvertently wandered into a 'Funeral Forest' where the ashes of the deceased are buried in biodegradable urns amongst the roots of the trees and we had let the dog off the lead. I profoundly apologise and will step up my study of the German language. We are certainly learning something every day, often by mistake.

I really hope that these guys were the only ones who saw this mistake!

Forest Walk in Frauenstein, Weisbaden

Friday, 11 April 2014

Forty Winks Friday. To market to market! Tongchuan Lu Seafood Market.

I love a good market and Shanghai has a market for just about anything, antiques clothes, upholstery, glasses...seafood. One of my favourites is the Tongchuan Lu Seafood market, a wholesale market that provides the restaurants of Shanghai with fresh seafood from around the globe. The people who work here put in very long hours, often living in small cubicles above their market stall. It is a pretty good place to catch a fish for lunch...and a napper or two!

Tongchuan Lu Seafood Market
Tongchuan Lu near Caoyang Lu
Putuo District, Shanghai

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sun, sea, sand and sculptures, Cottesloe Part 2

Cottesloe Beach holds many special memories for me, splashing in the shallows and building sandcastles as a child. Picnics shaded by the norfolk pines, fish and chip dinners on the grassy esplanade. Games of beach cricket. Cottesloe Beach was where my school friends and I ended our last day of school, swimming in our school uniforms. It was the last place I saw a special friend, before he was killed in a tragic accident. Years as a teenager, hanging out with friends, swimming out to the bell and working on our tans. The sunsets ...ahhh the sunsets, there is nothing like the vibrant streaks of yellow, orange and red glowing over the shimmering Indian Ocean at sundown.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, permanent sunset

This installation by Argentinian Alejandro Propato was dedicated to the beautiful sunset at Cottesloe Beach. To me it really captured the essence of a West Coast sunset, which is one of the things I really miss, living so far from home.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, permanent sunset

Alejandro's impression of the sunset with the Indian Ocean as a backdrop was one of my favourites of the exhibition. It was also a favourite of the kids, winning one of the two Kids' Choice awards.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, overconsumption

'Overconsumption' made by Kerrie Argent from thousands of plastic lids and bottles, collected locally and sent to her from all over the globe. Like a beached, giant creature from the deep with a hairy skin of bottle tops,and an internal anatomy of bulbous bottles. A reminder of the tonnes of floating, plastic rubbish in our oceans. Kerrie Argent won the Western Australian Sculptor Scholarship with this sculpture.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, plastic world

'Plastic world' A planet built entirely with plastic rubbish from all the planet's oceans. It represented the ecological footprint of all countries of the world. By artists Carole Purnelle and Nuno May from Portugal, whose work has been presented all over the world and is driven by the common theme of humanity. It saddens me to think that with all the ocean gives to us, that the world continues to dishonour the ocean by filling it with rubbish.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, embrace

I loved this sculpture 'embrace' by Ayad Alqaragholli, an Iraq born artist now living in Perth. To me it captures much happiness, freedom and love, embracing the sunshine and seizing the moment.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, wave 1

When we had our lunch at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel, the waiter told us that everyone had been talking about the 'Barbie Wave'. We thought he meant this little Barbie, with statements written over her body which was on display at "Sculptures inside" in the surf club and wondered what the fuss was about.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, wave 1, Barbie Wave

Until we came upon this...The Barbie Wave! Officially called Wave 1, by Annette Thas and described as such: "The wave of blonde barbie dolls alludes to childhood memories and social and environmental concerns. Do we drown or dive in and come out the other side"  This, unsurprisingly won one of the two Kids' Choice Awards and also the EY Peoples' Choice Award.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, rescheduling permanence

This delightful, colourful house was created by Helen Seiver of WA and was crocheted using common supermarket bags. The description states: " The work explores domestic responsibility for plastic waste disposal and its devastating impact on our water ways and oceans. The artist encourages domestic consciousness for this worldwide problem". Time to take your own fabric bags to the supermarket and say no to the plastic bags!

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, windsong

We were lucky to meet one of the artists. Mr Barclay Bailey, a Canadian who moved to Perth two decades ago and creator of 'windsong', a line of twenty striking sculptures made of steel, aluminium and fishing line. Each sculpture is a musical instrument, with the winds coming off the ocean creating soulful music on the beach. Incredible, beautiful, ethereal music. Mr Bailey was down at the beach tuning them to the wind conditions and was happy to chat. The sculptors had three days to put their creations in place, ok if you had a granite or stainless steel sculpture on a plinth. Hard work if you had to dig deep holes by hand for 20 poles in dry beach sand or if you had to plant thousands of flags in the sand, many of which disappeared as souvenirs! He also told us that someone had shot at 'The goon bag' with a bow and arrow, requiring a hasty patch job.

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014, like a flower swaying in the wind

This impressive sculpture, the winds off the ocean spinning the arms, silver and yellow contrasting against the brilliant blue sky was mesmerising to watch, . Called " like a flower swaying in the wind" by Hiroyuki Kita from Japan was the winning sculpture of 2014

The 10th anniversary Sculpture by the sea at Cottesloe beach was a resounding success and I am so happy that my visit home coincided with the event. All 74 exhibits were pretty amazing and had stories to tell. I liked the use of the 'debris of life' in some of the sculptures and the impact these items have on our environment. A subtle and important message was implied.

Not sure if I will make it home for Sculpture by the sea in Cottesloe 2015, but there is the bi-annual Sculpture by the sea in Aarhus, Denmark in 2015. Only a short drive from Frankfurt, I am planning on making it there!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Sculpture by the sea, Cottesloe 2014

My whirlwind trip home to Perth in March was wonderful. 
I hadn't been home for nearly two years so I relished the opportunity to 
catch up with friends and enjoy the familiarity of my home town.

I only feel truly at home when I have seen the Indian Ocean, 
the ever changing colours and moods of the sea, smelt the salty air
and walked on the soft white sand.

I was delighted to learn that Sculpture by the sea in Cottesloe, 
the town I was born, was on during my visit. I got to combine a visit to one of my 
favourite beaches with one of my favourite events.

Sculptures by the sea in Cottesloe has grown over the last ten years. 
This year saw 74 exhibiting sculptors from Western Australia 
and all around the world...let me show you some of my favourites!

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, Bulk Carrier

West Australian Norton Flavel was behind this sculpture called 'bulk carrier' though it was more commonly known as 'The goon bag'. Described as "A playful reference to our culture of carting big"! It was a real draw card and bought  many visitors to the exhibition.

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, Insectopia

Maria Hildrick, another West Aussie contributed 'insectopia', the description in the catalogue: "The artist is concerned about how we construct our sense of self, looking to animal and insect communities to explore ideas surrounding belonging, collective behaviour and identity". As an expat who has spent the last six years trying to work out how to belong in three different countries and cultures this really struck a chord with me.

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, Red Centre

'Red Center' by American Carl Billingsley. I love how the colours mirror those of the distinctive red and yellow of the surf life savers. The safety flags on duty in the background.

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, gift of the rhinoceros

This rhinoceros, crocheted from polypropylene fibre by Mikaela Castledine was incredibly lifelike and detailed. Was a hit with these young surf lifesavers.

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, der traum (dream)

'Der traum (dream)', by German artist Wolfgang Friz made me wonder what everyone on the beach was thinking, where they had come from, why they were there. Felt ironic that although I am/was a local, born only a few kilometres from Cottesloe beach, my address is now in Frankfurt, Germany.

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, whaleshark A-001 Stumpy

The blue and white, water filled bottles in the foreground "examines the unique 'fingerprint' identification spots of a real whale shark known as "Stumpy" and reflects the dynamic nature of the marine environment". By Olivia Samec and James Moe, both West Aussies.

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, sea change

The detail of this steel, marine ply and aluminium sculpture 'sea change' was exquisite. The description: "When moving in a new direction, we draw on our past to create a new present. The shift or change opens up all sorts of new possibilities" How true, thanks to the artist Tim Macfarlane Reid!

Sculpture by the sea Cottesloe 2014, migration

This sculpture (only a small section shown here) called 'migration' is part of a series investigating the effect of invasive marine organisms and is by Victorian Alex Goad. I loved the form and smooth texture

Cottesloe Beach Hotel

After a morning of sun, sea and sculptures, my friend and I realised it was well past lunchtime and we hadn't eaten lunch. So we headed over to another Cottesloe beach institution, The Cottesloe Beach Hotel, to grab some lunch.

Lemon Lime and Bitters

I had a refreshing Lemon Lime and Bitters, the great Aussie drink (non alcoholic) you have when you are not having a drink (alcoholic). I tried many times, unsuccessfully to order one in England and always drew a blank stare. English bar tenders...it is easy..put 5- 6 drops of Angostura aromatic bitters in a glass, pop in a few ice cubes and swirl, add a dash of lime juice or lime cordial, top up with lemonade, throw in a slice of lemon to garnish and you are done...delish!

Seafood Linguine

The Cott and Co. Fish bar serving of linguini, North West bugs, chilli and olive oil was scrumptious and gave us the energy to get back to the beach and check out more sculptures...stay tuned tomorrow for the afternoons attactions!