31 August, 2009

Welcome to Spring... NOT!!

Today, marks the official, unofficial start to Spring, but for me, I just wish it to pack its bags, bongos and drums, and head back to where it came from! Yes people, I am a Hayfever sufferer, and I am in agony! Since I was in London, I have been sneezing and suffering from itchy eyes and a runny nose...

Saturday, saw me do more than a few kilometers with an early start out to Penrith Show, to see if a friends photo had won, as he had entered in a couple of divisions. He had won First Place in the 'Rural' division! After this, I headed to the nearby soccer fields, and caught up with my mum, sister and her family. Her youngest was playing in his soccer grand final, which they won 1-0. Do you think he is happy in this shot just after the whistle had blown?

Cam GF 29082009, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Cam GF 29082009, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Later in the day, I also went to the Swans v Brisbane Lions match with A,S and the boys, (thanks to my brother and a couple of mates of his from up the mountains!). It ended up being a good match, but (bare with me here and try not to get lost...) the second half of the first quarter, and the entire second quarter, were as boring as ... well, you know! BUT, both the third and last quarter were really exciting indeed!

SCG Members Stand, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Centre Bounce, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Alex Will Max & Sam, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Sunday morning was here, and it was another early morning to an old neighbours place to have a look at his rear garden, with suggestions for them and their son, Lee. After a few hours there, I had to go as I was going to be running late for a very dear friend (of L's) who was doing a presentation for the Soi Dog Foundation. When I got there, Lynne was somewhat stressed for some reason, and she was so glad to see me there! As it turned out, the laptop she was using and the data projector were not 'talking' to each other... A simply reboot of laptop followed by Fn & F5 (shortcut for toggle between Laptop, Laptop & Screen or Screen only) and she had a smile and a very relieved lady indeed. I urge you to visit the Soi Dog Foundation, and if you can help in any way, I can assure you it will go to a very worthy cause...

Lynne Soi Dog Talk, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

But, in late breaking news, I would like to introduce little Jack Rupert... The youngest sister to L gave birth to a healthy little boy via a C-section at 8.30am. Is he cute or what?

Jack_Rupert_sleeping, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Jack_Rupert, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
BP_& Jack_Rupert, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.


28 August, 2009

I had a great day...You?

Well, I had SUCH a great day today, and it all started on Wednesday night... Every week, I get an email from an Auction House with the Friday's Auction catalogue that LP was registered with. I had actually tried to 'unsubscribe' but in doing so, I guess that they did not want me to leave and I was then getting TWO emails! This week. there was a few of LP's favourite artists, so I thought well, I will go in and have a look, and ask them to take her email address OFF the database. So I went upstairs t the art collection were, and there was more than a few of her artists there! I took note of there catalogue numbers, and went downstairs to unsubscribe...

In the end, as it was starting when I was at work, I registered my lots, at off I went. !0.15, and my first lot... Rising... Rising... Ok, I'm in, against, more, against (one more) 1st... 2nd... 3rd and final call... I had won!

Design_for_a_Fan, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

This will need to have a little bit of restoration work and clean, but I think it will be a lovely addition to the collection of works we have. It is also the first piece of this particular artist, so I am happy to have it!

11.10, and my phone is ringing again, it's the auction house again saying that my next lot is a couple away. However, the news here is not good, as it's opening bid was already more than I was willing to go for! My last two lots and again the phone was ringing (and I am now getting very use to doing this)... One lot to go ahead of me, and a new auctioneer, and bang, its now my turn!

As the opening bid is getting lower and lower, we're off... up, up, up (I don't know why they didn't just start here in the first place) and I am in on about the 5th bid, two $50 bids later and the close of the hammer, "its yours, congratulations" the kind lass said.

In_a_Hurry, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Your next lot is up, its a very large one, you know that right?" she asks somewhat confused... Starting price, whilst a little higher than I had thought, but it had suddenly stopped... And I had not even placed a bid! 1st... 2nd... 3rd and Final calllllll.... Hang on, I want this, so I placed my bid and with the other bidder done, I had just won my third (and last) lot of the day!

Lost_and_Found, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Now here's the funny/strange thing... ALL three of the titles of these paintings, have a meaning to mean at the moment. AND, whats more, I only thought of it when I was talking to Dackle Princess on Skype! The first, "Design for a Fan" to me is that I am becoming a "FAN" of these Auctions lately, both these pieces and the fact that the pram we purchased sold this morning on eBay, so in essence, this piece was paid for! The second, "In a Hurry" is the fact that I am somewhat of an impatient person, and I want things to happen much faster than they are going. LP didn't think I had this trait, and thought I was somewhat of a 'laid-back' nature though! Third, and no means last, "Lost and Found" signifies that I am still somewhat 'Lost', and I am trying to 'Find' reasons to the cause...

So they are all very special pieces to me and I am very happy to have them. So yes, I have had a great day, what about you?


27 August, 2009

Jack - the whippet who learned how to be a dog at last...

I found this story when I was last in London, and I bought the paper, London Evening Standard, home with me so as I could scan it and share it with you all...

It is a piece originally written by Brian Sewell about his little puppy, a Whippet, named Jack who had been so horridly ill-treated as a pup. Whilst this is a sad story, a very sad story, I also found it to be a lovely story where this puppy became a dog...

Jack - the whippet who learned how to be a dog at last

Brian Sewell 07.08.09

Jack, my little whippet bitch, is dead — words that embody an overwhelming weight of grief.

She was with me only for a short quinquennium, yet the gap she leaves is as large as any left by Mop and Nusch, Hecate and Schubert, Titian and a dozen others. She was a foundling: taken to the Mayhew Animal Home in a state of starvation so close to death that they thought she'd not survive, more than a month passed before she was released, still skeletal, still transparent, into my care.

An unresponsive fearful little creature into whose mind I could not penetrate, I named her Jack, thinking its short sharp clarity useful as a command for what should be a running dog. In affectionate fondling moments (of which there were many) I whispered “little one”, and to that too she eventually responded.

She was, I think, so damaged by experience that she had forgotten how to be a dog and did not run. Lord knows what cruelties she had endured in her first five years or so, and I am certain that she had never been part of any domestic society, human or canine. She did not respond to my other dogs. She was not house-trained. She could not master the mechanics of climbing stairs. She slept where she stood and would not spring onto my bed. She would not play with man or beast or toy. She did nothing that makes a companion of a dog.

Slowly, over the whole of the first year, she responded to the normalities of man-and-dog relationship — the hint of interest in my returning home, an increasing willingness to be touched and stroked, joining in the anticipation of a walk, dinner or a treat — and then, one day, I found her curled up on my bed, resting her head on the comfortable rump of Winck, who had always been motherly towards her.

It was the beginning of great change. She found her voice, a funny little smoker's bark, and joined the clamour at the door last thing at night when I let them into the garden to empty their bladders and see off marauding foxes. She responded to the bell and visitors. She discovered the delights of chocolate and nuts (neither of them good for dogs), of cheese and yoghurt, her demand for bananas quite insatiable. To my great pleasure she learned to break all the rules of etiquette, and nothing pleased me more than her standing with trembling forepaws on the table, shaking it, insistently demanding some titbit from my plate.

With those same paws she learned to pull the duvet from my shoulders in the middle of a winter's night, and it was then for me to learn that in bed no dog is more selfish than a whippet stretched full length with all four legs rigid in their push against my chest or back. When my bed was made she took to rolling on it, mad as a maenad, an ecstatic, stretching, wriggling wildness informing spine and limb, the back arching, head and neck thrashing from side to side, and then she'd haul the cover back and make a bird's nest of my pillows.

But still she did not run. Her chosen place was close at heel, and if occasionally she followed Nusch to the edge of the undergrowth, she was never out of sight and, overcome by caution, she'd suddenly scamper back. When Nusch and Winck raced for sticks or balls, Jack just stood still.

And then, one day in her third summer with me, she joined in, not racing them but asking for a stick of her own. I threw it and she ran — and ran, and ran — in ever-lengthening bounds and widening circles until out of breath. It was as though in discovering her ancient heritage and purpose as a running dog, some instinctive joy had been released and the game became our ritual.

But I feared for her fragility: when she stood against the light I could see the intricate structure of her frail and slender bones as clearly as in one of Leonardo's engineering studies, and I constantly imagined the calamity of collision with another dog. And then, last autumn, I had to fear no longer, for she simply would not run.

I became disconcertingly aware that Jack was slowing down, sleeping much more and needing to empty her bladder in the night. Her vet diagnosed problems with her heart and kidneys and opined that she had only months to go. In spite of pills administered in scrambled egg, her slow decline accelerated and evidence of cancer too became apparent.

I knew that soon the cancer would cause pain, knew what would have to be done to end it, but, remembering Nusch's scream as the needle went into her vein, I wanted to put Jack down myself and asked for lethal tablets. These do not exist, and if they do, they are not to be had by ordinary mortals.

I cannot understand why no lethal sedative is available to the loving master of a dying dog. I can think of no greater gesture of affection for any animal than to see that it has a comfortable death at the hands of those in whom it placed its trust.

I loved Jack, my little one. I wanted her to live with her small pleasures to the last moment free of pain, and then to let sleep in my arms gently turn to death. I wanted her death to be serene, without the alarm and commotion of strangers in the room, but it was not quite to be. Death came to her on my lap and in my arms, and free of pain I'm sure, but Jack was aware of strangers and disturbance, and our parting was not just for us, alone.

So the next time you see your puppy, your cat or your pets, look after them and treat them well... After all, they are Mans Best Friend!

Source: London Evening Standard Pg 12 7th August 2009 ------

25 August, 2009

Mid Life Crisis

Well, OK yes, I might be having a bit of a "mid-life-crisis", but to be honest, I have been thinking about a LOT since April... What will I do, how will I do it, where will I be in x years blah blah blah... So, in some way of trying to figure out all of this, I have figured I am just going to have to get away and clear my head more often. AND, flying away somewhere, albeit for research purposes sometimes, is getting a little expensive!

So, what am I to do? Well, I use to go camping a lot in a life a long time ago, so I thought I might just start going again. But, am not now getting a little to old to pitch a tent, the old back is also getting a little beyond sleeping on an airbed, so after a LOT of research, I have made a PURCHASE!

I am going to go away for a weekend out in the scrub for the October long weekend, and I simply can not wait...


21 August, 2009

Plaque and photo...

Headstone, Plaque & Photo, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Today, I had a call from the cemetery, to say that the plaque & photo were installed. I was so happy when I got to see them there, more than a tear came to my eye... One of sadness, but in so many way, I am proud to see just how she is going to be remembered. I think we have done a good job with it, and I hope that she likes what we have done as well...

This is my first time uploading AND sharing a video, I hope it works... It was taken with my Nokia 6110 Navigator Mobile Phone.


19 August, 2009

Back at work, farewell & a busy time ahead!

This week, I am back at work after 4 months off... Both Monday & Tuesday were good (busy)days! However, after an email when I returned, today I was off to an old family friends funeral. It was such a lovely day for it, over on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in glorious sunlight. Hek, it was even rather warm! RIP to you my friend... God speed!

I am now going back to work 4 days a week as well, giving me an extra day at home to get things done, stuff that has really needed doing for a little bit, but now I have the time, ability and money to do them! Just yesterday, I booked the house in to be re-pointed. You know what that is right? You scrape out the mortar between the bricks and replace it with new, stronger mortar. It not only sounds like an absolutely HORRID job, but I think it is even noisy as well since a grinder will need to be used! So a dusty, noisy HUGE job, is too big for me, so I have contracted a guy to do it for me! Once that is done, I will then get the painters in, and they can paint the eaves, fascias and windows/doors in the colour scheme I am yet to choose (I have it down to two though!).

I am also looking at gaining my Pilot's licence. This is going to be very exciting for me as it is something I have always wanted to do! Only trouble was that other things took priority over the last couple of years...


16 August, 2009

Happy 90th Birthday Nan!

Happy Birthday NAN!!!

Birthday Girl, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Today, we celebrated Nan's 90th Birthday, with family at Centennial Park, at their Restaurant. It was going to be a lovely day, 28C in Winter, and it was!

Jamie & Riley, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Rosie, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Issac, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

All of the new babies were there, and of course the older ones too. Both Rod & Barb and myself were in from London through the week, and I was keen to find out about how they were feeling. We were in similar timed flight to Sydney through Singapore (different carriers though), and as I had not been feeling any affects of jet-lag I was waiting to see if it was the timing, or the flights themselves! They had little to no sleep throughout, so I suspect it was the flights themselves!

Nans 90th Cake, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

By the time the cake came out, I was so full I would have exploded if I had any more! We had the choice of fish Travella, or the Slow cooked pork belly, spinach, caramelised apple, cider jus (which I had and it was FANTASTIC! Following the main, I had the Chocolate mocha tart, double cream, candied citrus, which was EVEN better, agree?

It was also time for another family photo, with a couple of notable people missing. Here's wishing you a very Happy Birthday, and I hope you had a great day...

90th NAN Bday, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

12 August, 2009

RHS Wisley Gardens

As I said in my all too brief post last night, after a very long day (and a few too many home brewed ales and Maggie's friends...) I was totally exhausted. But I can now tell you of my day!

We started early, and headed for the M25 to head south to Wisley. The Gardens were yet to open, but I could tell be the carpark, it must be a popular spot! I was not wrong either. After getting through the entrance gates, it was like walking into another world. This Garden was WAY better than my last visit of Kew Gardens! Sure, Kew has the History, Science and sheer size, Wisely has the WOW factor and in many ways, a CAMP factor with it being full of color, texture and in general, spunk! Gardens beds of tightly packed Cosmos, other beds full of colour and finely manicure lawns (with please keep off signs, grrrr) were everywhere! I took over nearly 200 photos, of which are in my Flickr account, and I will upload many more when I get home due to batt life and nearing data allowance, but I have done 30 and split them over two mosaic's for ease of viewing.

After that, Maggie took me to where she was living when over here, and her sons grew up until they moved back to Australia in the early '90s. We went to some of her old neighbours, were I was watered with home brew, fed with Moussaka (I picked out the Egg Plant: - YUK!) and had play time with Sally, an 11 month old Pointer who had recently been spayed after her first season. She was a playful pup, already pulled out 4-5 stitch's leaving 3 until next Tuesday, yeah right! I was also taken up to Keith's Allotment garden, which was a fascinating thing to do, eating the wild blackberries along the way...

As I said, a very tiring day. But I am now checked-in for my 26 odd hour flight home via Singapore, and will let you know how I am when I get there. The inbound flight I was told by my friends back home in the industry, left 4 hours late. This worried me as if it keeps this up, we will NOT make the 11pm curfew, so we will wait and see. They are telling me here that we will be departing only 30 mins late... Waiting waiting waiting!


To tired to talk...

Sorry, but after a day PACKED FULL of stuff, I am way to tired to do much... But, I am packed and ready to go tomorrow!

I have heard though, the flight left Sydney 4 hours late, so I will have plenty of time to fix some pics, post them and tell you all about it.

Looking forward to getting home and seeing Macc & Jasmine!


11 August, 2009

English Royality!

Today, was a Royal Day! After collecting Maggie from Heathrow, we ended up (very much as a last minute) heading west to Windsor, Windsor Castle! It was a cool day, now overcast and getting cooler, but I was so excited about going as I had not been there before. I know that 'L' would have loved to have gone, as in St Georges Chapel there was the most magnificent embroideries!

It did not take us all that long to get there, it looked much further on the map! I quickly went to the ATM to get some cash for the parking meter, and we then headed towards the Castle. When we got to the grounds, we turned left and headed for a Tea House for some lunch first. When we got into the grounds, it was magnificent, wonderful exciting to be in such a place, where the history was so prevalent... Most recently, Charles & Camilla's wedding!

The grounds were superbly manicured (of course) and the Mot Garden had some lovely roses which are within the Mosaic below. There was also some ancient graffiti as well AND some ECO lights (Compact Fluorescent) which I was very impressed with!


10 August, 2009

New found friends, and family at a London pub!

After an absolutely horrid night of sleep, or lack there of, today I again caught up with Rod & Barb... This time, at the Tate Modern (sort of)! At least, we were outside of it at the pub!

But, going back a couple of hours thanks to my Hotel... Over the last couple of days, when getting back to my room, there was this odour, gradually getting stronger, of damp... Kind of like, wet smelly socks, but much stronger. This morning though, I was able to get to the bottom of it! After every shower, the floor was wet, not a little wet, but very wet. And every shower I took, I made sure that the curtain was in such a position, where it would not let the water out. Or so I thought. So this morning, I took a bath instead and on the floor, was the water heading out along the grout lines towards the carpet! SO, with a close look, water was coming out of the panel covering the bath wall! I packed ready for the day, and I am now coming up to 9.30am and I was meeting everyone at 10.30am (it is a 40 min tube trip) so time will be tight, I asked if I can change rooms later today when I get back. I was told that I would have to do it now, as she could not guarantee availability! Ummm.... well ok then!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went back to my room, repacked shoved EVERYTHING into my bags, dumped into new room to sort later, and headed into London. I got to Embankment, and started walking along the Southbank of the Thames, and I sent an SMS saying I am about 10mins off, all whilst listening to "The War of the Worlds" on my iPod, and not thinking to too much...Walking past a pub, I got a reply saying we are at the Young's Pub... Luckily I checked, I was right there!!!

Here I met with Hannah, an exchange student many years ago to Rod & Barb, and her husband, Miles! Of course, Rod & Barb were there, and we had a beer (or 3) before ordering some lunch. Time had gone by so quickly in general chit chat, I was so surprised! It was such a pleasure to meet both Miles & Hannah, I am now (hopefully when they get home from their afternoon party) connected through FB!

Miles Rod Barb & Hannah, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Miles Rod Barb & Bernie, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

After saying goodbyes, we finished our lunch and then headed across the Millennium Bridge and a cabride up to Covent Garden Markets... I am still unable to get the gifts for the birthday babies, so I might have to resort to plan B (IF I had one), but I will go back through the week before I leave to try and get them anyway!

Rod & Barb London Cab, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.


08 August, 2009

Salida Madrid, and G'day London!

Madrid Airport Check-in Hall, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Here we have the Check-in area of the Madrid Terminal 4... I found it to be very impressive, bright and easy to get around! Below is the airside and at the Gate area

Madrid Airport Airside, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.
Madrid Airport Gate, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

When I arrived in Heathrow, we parked at a remote gate, and I was worried as the Captain had said there is rain about. Luckily, there wasn't when I got off the plane, but when waiting for the 'Hotel Hoppa' bus, it started! When I left the hotel, it had all but finished, so I headed for Central London for dinner with 'L's' uncle & aunt in Bayswater. They are at the end of their trip as well, heading home a couple of days prior to me! I got to Bayswater easy enough, and by the time I got out of the Tube, it was pouring! I later learnt that London got a months worth of rain, in just TWO hours!

Rod & Barb London, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

I am heading off again into Central London today, as I saw a couple of gifts for the birthdays of Rosie & Riley back home, they are very cute!


06 August, 2009

Gondola’s, Buses & Spanish Food...

Tuesday, saw me slowing down somewhat, and relaxing... Doing the typical ‘tourist’ type stuff now on different modes of transport. I must say here, that I thought the Metro in Santiago was good, and I would have to say that these guys here in Madrid are just as good! It is a much larger network of lines, many MANY more stations moving a LOT more people, but I had no hassles going from A to Z with a lot of stops along the way to view various things and shop!

I headed for the distant An? Station. Here, a short walk to the Terifico Gondola ride, a 2.4klm ride over the city and Parque de Campo. The Parque de Campo is very much like the Mount Annan Botanic Garden it that it is more of a local native collection of plants. It was also very dry and arid!

From the other side of the gondola, I spotted this freaky rollercoaster and amusement park. I have no idea of its name or location, but it looks awesome!

Madrid Rollercoasters, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Returning back, after all it took about 30 mins to cross each way, I headed back into Gran Via to find a local restaurant selling Paella I saw on my first day. This was quite easy to get to and there were many to choose from. And whilst it may not look like the picture advertising (are they ever?), it actually tasted excellent!

Madrid Paella, originally uploaded by AussiePomm.

Wednesday, I again headed into Gran Via, this time for breakfast of traditional Spanish food (so I was told) of Bacon, Eggs, Sausage (yumm) and Fritas... I also had an OJ and Coffee!

Then it was onto the Madrid Vision, Hop on Hop off style bus. There were two routes, I took both, and took around 90 mins on R1, and 60 on R2. R1 mainly took in the Historic points, whilst R2 was more of the Modern points.

I then headed back to the Hotel for a swim and relaxation, before heading up to the nearby shopping centre where I purchased a second bag to take home all my goodies for family members. I also had some dinner! Yes, MORE food! This time, and this will SHOCK many family and friends back home, was from an ‘all you can eat BUFFET’ for 8.95 Euro. I had a green salad with Horse Radish, Potatoe Salad, Tomatoes and Corn Chips with a Salsa and I added some cheese and shredded boiled egg. It was so YUMM, I went back for seconds! What’s more, I picked it all MYSELF!

So now, it is a matter of packing up, getting a good night’s sleep as I am London bound tomorrow afternoon!