Friday Flowers: Happy Christmas & Splendid Brachychitons

This magnificent tree is a Brachychiton which I photographed in Brisbane in early October. 

Wishing all my readers, wherever you are in the world, a very happy Christmas from the Top End of Down Under.19

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Friday Flowers: Kangaroo Paws

I’m not sure that “Kangaroo Paws” is an entirely appropriate name but that’s what these Australian native plants are called…as you can see they come in all colours. I have to admit I cheated with these as I took them in a plant nursery in Brisbane (not as focused as they should be though). DSC_2363DSC_2364DSC_2365I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

Friday Flowers: Christmas is coming

While the northern hemisphere is visited by monochrome whites and greys interspersed with evergreen foliage, Down Under we know Christmas is coming when the poincianas start flowering. This year they flowered early in Darwin and most are now running out of puff with only a scattering of blossoms. I photographed these a few weekends ago.

DSC_2536 - CopyAlthough I’d gathered a couple of images, it was this magnificent display in the Darwin Botanic Gardens that blew the others off the page. Actually if you look closely it’s two trees growing close together as one side has a slightly more orange tint while the other is quite red. I love the park bench, in red, under the canopy.

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 I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday as you plan for Christmas.

 

Sepia Saturday: Revisiting Expo Fun

Sepia Saturday 256On close reflection it seems that parades like the one featured in this week’s Sepia Saturday image seem to have been rather infrequent in my life, or else they haven’t been photographed. However the combination of festivities and whacky designs took me back to the fun days of Expo 88, an event which turned Brisbane on its head and changed it forever, I think. I wrote about how we all enjoyed it in an earlier Sepia Saturday post.

Today I’m going to share with you some of the whacky statues that were tucked around the site, awaiting discovery and generating a giggle or two.

The Expo site, now the South Bank precinct, was once a rather unsalubrious area of Brisbane with dry docks and inadequate housing. These particular characters are a nod to that past.

Expo 88003b Expo 88008b_edited-1Expo 88004bAnd then there were the site workers:

Expo 88002b Expo 88005bAnd the Aussie themes:

Expo 88001aExpo 88006a Expo 88006b Expo 88005aThe lifesavers:

Expo 88003aAnd the entertainers:

Expo 88002a Expo 88008aAnd sometimes balancing all the things to see and do was quite a challenge.Expo 88007a

If you’re wondering what happened to your favourite Expo Art you might find this Art Trail helpful. And to see some more of the whacky parades and people click here.

Why not parade over to Sepia Saturday and see what other festivities the Sepians have in store this week?

Friday Flowers: Papery Pastels & Happy Thanksgiving.

 Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Although it’s Friday Down Under, those Up Over are probably still sitting round the table hooking into turkey and treats. May you have wonderful family time together making lots of memories.

A few weeks ago the crepe myrtles were in full flower in all their pastel glory. As a small tree they’re rather nondescript until they burst forth in flower.

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DSC_2594DSC_2529DSC_2528 I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.

 

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.