Friday Flowers: Tropical Colours

One thing about the tropics, the colours of the flowers usually burst out at you….they do have to compete with some pretty bright light.

Sadly i have no idea what this plant is called but it is in Darwin's Botanical Gardens.

Sadly i have no idea what this plant is called but it is in Darwin’s Botanical Gardens.

A common or garden purple bougainvillea is enlived by its unusual presentation.

A common or garden purple bougainvillea is enlived by its unusual presentation.

A passionfruit flower (not sure which variety)

A passionfruit flower (not sure which variety)

Heliconias/gingers are readily available here, especially as cut flowers at the markets.

Heliconias/gingers are readily available here, especially as cut flowers at the markets.

I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

 

Saturday Flowers: Lest We Forget

On Tuesday this week, at the 11th hour on the 11th Day of the 11th Month, we  once again recognised Remembrance Day and the end of World War I. This year is the 96th anniversary of peace and the end of the war to end all wars. Over the next four years there will be many commemorations to mark the tragedies of the war and the impact on all the countries which were involved.

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Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ieper, Belgium.

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Sapper J W Rooney, New Zealand Engineers, Beach Cemetery, ANZAC, Gallipoli, Turkey.

Hence this week I’m including some photos of flowers taken at various War Cemeteries in northern France, Belgium and Turkey on our recent trip.

Pheasant Wood, Fromelles, France. 5533 men were killed or injured on that day.

Pheasant Wood, Fromelles, France. 5533 men were killed or injured on that day.

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The Aussie green & gold at Polygon Wood Cemetery.

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Sgt Lewis McGee VC, Tyne Cot Cemetery.

One of the most evocative and sobering art installations I’ve ever seen (albeit virtually) has been the poppies at the Tower of London. With over 800,000 poppies representing all Commonwealth deaths, it is quite awe-inspiring. Extrapolate that to include the men who returned to their homes, shattered in body and mind, and all the families and communities who were bereaved it starts to tell the impact of such a terrible war. It also bears recognising that the other participants in the war, whether Allies or not, suffered equally terrible losses.

Angela has generously given me permission to reproduce her photo here.

Angela has generously given me permission to reproduce her photo here.

To see photos of the Tower installation in London you can see photos and read my friend Angela’s posts on A Silver Voice from Ireland.

Not quite the usual Friday Flowers post to bring sunshine to your day, but still, we owe it to all the men who served to recognise their sacrifice. Lest We Forget.

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There are over 54,000 men listed on the Menin Gate whose graves are not known.

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Friday Flowers – Frangipani Dreaming

At this time of the year Darwin is bedecked with Frangipani trees in full glorious flower. Where they are growing affects when they flower and for how long. Here are some  I took near the Botanic Gardens last week, and one from our own garden.

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DSC00660DSC_2563DSC_2565DSC_2500[1]I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

 

Friday Flowers: Orchids

I’ve been inspired by the images of beautiful flowers my friends have been posting lately on Facebook as an antidote to all the miseries of the world. Looking at my Pinterest Flower pins set me thinking – why not have a Friday Flowers theme on this blog? Sometimes it will be tropical flowers but other times it will be images from our travels. Some may even have appeared on earlier Open Garden posts.

And so today I bring you some brilliantly coloured orchid images I’ve taken over the years.DSC_1072

DSC_1074DSC_1083DSC_0647DSC_0413I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

Wowing us in travel: from Italy to Istanbul

Happy gelati eaters in San Gimignano 2000.

Happy gelati eaters in San Gimignano 2000.

Among my memory box collection is a piece from a long-ago Weekend Australian article. It was written long ago by Barry Oakley, an Australian writer and journalist who captured the absolute essence of travel with its mix of challenges, frustrations and joys. Inspired by that article I did fulfil one dream: to stand in the square at San Gimignano, eating a gelato, listening to the midday bells ring out, along with the unanticipated strains of harp music. It did feel a little like heaven on earth.

Mr Cassmob and I have been fortunate to travel to many places over the decades and while many give great pleasure, and very happy memories, “WOW!” moments don’t come along every day…those jaw-dropping scenes when your eyes pop and you draw in a huge breath.  It seems in the last couple of trips we’ve done particularly well in the WOW stakes…in regard to both scenery and animals.

The view of Sleeping Warrior from reception.

The view of Sleeping Warrior from reception.

In 2013 we visited our daughter in Kenya, Africa. One of the places we stayed was Sleeping Warrior Lodge near Lake Elementaita. As we walked into the reception area we were all stunned by the beauty of the scene before us. All we could do was constantly repeat “wow” “ that’s amazing”, something the staff told us was pretty much everyone’s reaction.

Sleeping Warrior caldera from the balcony of our cabin at dawn.

Sleeping Warrior caldera from the balcony of our cabin at dawn.

Not  an out-loud wow moment but absolutely awe-inspiring was watching the wildebeest make their annual migration crossing. The sheer determination held us in thrall, and silence, for the whole time of the crossing – about 20 minutes and estimated (by our guide) at 4000 animals.

View of the Acropolis from our hotel in Athens.

View of the Acropolis from our hotel in Athens.

This year we’d chosen an Athens hotel from Trip Advisor reviews (as usual) and so we knew it was supposed to have great views. Even so we were still astonished when we arrived at the restaurant for dinner. There before us was the Acropolis in all its glory, backlit by the setting sun. How amazing to eat a meal watching the shadows fall over this ancient site, the flag taken down and then the lights turned on. Spectacular!118 Istanbul sail in_edited-2

The finale of our trip was a cruise on the newly-refurbished Oceania ship, Insignia from Athens to Istanbul. I’m sure there are some ports world-wide which are arresting in their magnificence and I imagine Sydney would be one such if you hadn’t visited it before. Sailing into Istanbul was that type of experience…we were silenced (almost) by the city scape and scenery before us. It really was a huge WOW moment which set the scene for our experience of Istanbul over the subsequent days…we absolutely loved it!

Sailing into Istanbul on a summer's day is a WOW moment.

Sailing into Istanbul on a summer’s day is a WOW moment.

I’m hoping to revisit this blog more often in the coming weeks and share some of my photos from the tour just to whet your appetite for travel –and indulge myself with some reminiscences.

Shadow Shot Sunday: The shadows of slavery

Sunlight masks a sober sculpture

The cruel shadowed history of slavery

Men and women, wrapped in chainsslave sculpture

Trapped in dark cellars

Whipped to test endurance

Silence increasing their priceSlave whipping point

Shipped far away

A legacy of lost heritage

Pain, Courage, EnduranceSlave chambers

This is written and inspired by my friend Kristin and all her fellow African Americans whose ancestors suffered similar fates.

This memorial to the slaves is in Stone Town, Zanzibar. The site of the old whipping point is behind the altar of the Anglican Cathedral, and the former cellars under a nearby building.

This post is my contribution to this week’s Shadow Shot Sunday.

Shadow Shot Sunday

Christmas food, spices and Zanzibar

It’s that time of year when chefs and cooks around the world turn their minds to the Christmas cooking. Since Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings rely on the delicious spices originally brought back to Europe from Asia and Zanzibar, what better time to share some photos of the spices in their natural habitat in Zanzibar, once known as part of the Spice Islands.

You can compare the images with the spices listed in my Christmas cake recipe from my other blog.360 nutmeg and mace low

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Cardamom

While holidaying in Zanzibar, and en route to the north-eastern beach at Ras Nungwi, we did a spice tour. It was really fun as well as informative. The guys made it really enjoyable by testing our knowledge of the plants from smell and taste, and along the way made us hats, necklaces, dilly bags, and glasses.

Cloves, not yet ripened.

Cloves, not yet ripened.

Peeling bark from the cinnamon tree.

Peeling bark from the cinnamon tree.

Do you recognise any of these plants, or do you use them in your Christmas cooking? Each and every one is in my Christmas cake recipe but the star is….

Green peppercorns are picked and dried before they ripen.

Green peppercorns are picked and dried before they ripen.

366 spice exchange low_edited-1Now where’s my Cointreau?

Mind you I find it somewhat ironic that all these spices, so integrally associated with Christmas, can be found on the largely Islamic island of Zanzibar.

The travellers in our Spice Farm accessories.

The travellers in our Spice Farm accessories.

Kathmandu Doorways

Inspired by last week’s post on Doorways of Travel I thought I’d add some of my old photos from a trip to Kathmandu in 1977.

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This one has always amused me – what were they looking at?

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I can’t say I’d be enthused to use this butcher shop. Goat anyone?

Many feature doorways for the simple reason that the workspaces are so tiny and people work squashed up at all sorts of skills. Our children, then aged six and four, were with us on the trip so they had some amazing experiences. We were staying with friends and former work colleagues so we were fortunate to have our own built-in tour guides.Kathmandu sari beading copy

Silver or tin smiths working on jewellery etc.

Silver or tin smiths working on jewellery etc.

Some sort of celebration or religious event -I wouldn't take a photo like this these days.

Some sort of celebration or religious event -I wouldn’t take a photo like this these days.

This image always makes me feel depressed even though street vendors are common throughout Asia.

This image always makes me feel depressed even though street vendors are common throughout Asia.

It’s a shame these photos are so colour-damaged but that’s one of the hazards of tropical living.

Sepia Saturday: The Doorways of Travel

This week’s Sepia Saturday 203 features doorways, especially with people standing in them.

I haven’t trawled my personal/family photos for a suitable one and chose instead to focus on some recent travel photos which “fit the bill”. All were taken in Zanzibar, famous for its amazingly carved doors.

Many Zanzibar doors have small doors built within the larger door.

Many Zanzibar doors have small doors built within the larger door.

And then there's the colonial influence in the attire of this hotel's doorman.

And then there’s the colonial influence in the attire of this hotel’s doorman.

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I love a semi-closed doorway -always makes me wonder what's behind it.

I love a semi-closed doorway -always makes me wonder what’s behind it.

Do go and check out what the other Sepians have written for Sepia Saturday 203

Shadow Shot Sunday: Shadows of Stone Town

Shadow Shot SundayThe restaurant and bar of our Stone Town hotel was on the roof terrace with a wonderful view over the harbour: just perfect for a pre-dinner drink as the sun set. The building profiled here is the House of Wonders, formerly a sultan’s palace. Along the waterfront, near the Forodhani Gardens, young boys were taking running leaps and diving into the water.203 View from Mashariki edit

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Why not skip over to see what others have posted for Shadow Shot Sunday this week.