Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The weekend walk

The autumn colours are still beautiful! I took the photo of the trees very quickly, so as not to embarrass the children. No, that's a lie actually, I snapped shamelessly, and they can just get over it. We've started up our weekend walks again and Saturday was the walk around Lake Ginninderra, which is (another) artificial lake in Canberra, in the northern suburbs this time. Canberrans do love to stop up a random stream and make a lake, for peaceful recreation. It took nearly two hours, which is a good stroll, especially on a nice flat wide path.

My head knows that they are perfectly sensible children who are not going to fall into the lake ... but the rest of me is only moments removed from chasing after a two-year old who would pitch into ANY body of water within a hundred metres. They don't understand that I look at them and see a brainless eighteen month old with poor balance and no depth perception.

More scenery - there were lots of people out and about. Lots of happy dogs, chasing ducks mostly. I've been putting last year's photos in an album (yes, I know, I'm a bit behind, but I will catch up soon) and most of the winter ones are just endless walks! Scenery, trees, and children with beanies on eating chocolate biscuits.  The rest of our weekend was equally pleasant; caught up with some friends I haven't seen for ages and otherwise just hung out quietly at home.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Big simple blocks

Yay, back in the sewing room!! As usual, I couldn't remember what I'd been doing when I left - there were some half-formed scrawls and one project I should be working on but didn't feel like it. So I asked myself what I really wanted to do - and it was big pretty blocks with white and clear colours. Something "modern". I thought about a proper granny square quilt, but it was a bit fiddly, so I decided on a modified block with nice big 5" squares. It looked a bit bland so I put a nine patch in the middle.

And this is it in reality! Brighter than perhaps a proper modern quilt should be but I can't seem to not put four hundred different fabrics in and the more they bounce off each other the better I like it. I'm sewing them together now and we'll see what to do about a border - I don't know if I can be bothered piecing a border so it might just be some (other) random fabric.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some photos

I'm back home again now and I'll put up some Kiribati photos for your edification and delight! I had a very good visit - both enjoyable and work-related achievements - but it is nice to be home. It's a full two days travel (overnight in Fiji) from Canberra so by the end of that you get a bit sick of airports and planes ... and other people if the truth be known. Humanity is all well and good but I don't particularly like it so much in my face as Fiji Airways would like to believe.

This is over the road from the motel where we were staying. This is the ocean side - there is a reef for about a hundred metres which is uncovered at low tide. There is a lot of rubbish - you couldn't really walk along the beach and I certainly wouldn't swim in the water.

Tarawa is a long strip of islands around a lagoon, joined together by causeways. This is the longest causeway, from Bairiki, where we were staying, round to Betio at the end of the land. We walked there in the evenings - about an hour there and back which was lovely exercise if a bit dusty. The bumps and holes in the road don't stop people going at horrifying speeds, but we escaped without injury. Tarawa is just above the equator, so each day is 31 degrees and the sun sets at 6.30 all year round. On the left is the lagoon, and the right is the ocean.

On the weekend we hired a car and went for a drive - there are a few back roads and unexplored areas that we ventured down. Not many of course, given the geography, but we got to see a few places we hadn't seen before. We followed one road which just stopped at this strange bitumen area and we just couldn't figure out where we were ... until it dawned on us we were at the end of the runway. There's no fence, and the villages on either side use the runway to ride their bikes, chat, as a road and for the kids to play on. There are only international flights on Mondays and Thursdays, and ten minutes before landing a ute with a siren goes up and down the runway to get everyone off it ... but there are a few domestic flights as well and I'm not sure what happens with those. Mind you given the size of some of the island hopping planes if one hit a person it would probably be the plane that got injured...

The next photo is looking back to Betio from the wharf. Almost everything has to be shipped in, there is very little industry or agriculture. Lots of wonderful fish to eat (and I did, and the lobster!) but not much else.

Tarawa was the site of a terrible battle in WWII, where the Japanese had entrenched themselves on the island. It is so hard to imagine because there is nowhere to go or hide - I don't know what the locals did during the battle. Hopefully they all canoe'd out of there and no-one got hurt but I suspect not. I'm not going to google it either, in case I find out. Anyway there are still bunkers and rusting boats and guns, like this one. (Fat Australian included for scale).

Because there are so few international flights the plane landing is quite an event. The airport terminal is basically a shed with an open area in the middle - so after we'd checked in we sat outside for a couple of hours and did some people watching. The ute has gone by in this photo so the plane isn't far off - the kids hung off the railings and watched it land - it's very close and no walls or windows or anything so the noise! Much more exciting than our airports.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tropics again

No photos this week – I am in the Republic of Kiribati and internet connection is available … but not exactly fast. I think photos might be pushing my luck! I will put some up when I get back though, because Kiribati is amazing … the capital is an atoll - a series of little islands linked by causeways around an enormous lagoon. You are quite clearly standing on a little dot in an enormous ocean, covered by the biggest sky I have ever seen. It’s just north of the equator, so 31 degrees all year round.

The capital, South Tarawa is dusty and crowded and very dirty – there is no tourism, so the accommodation and food are very basic. By any measure it is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, but I always have a sense that these are people who know who they are. I wouldn’t want to swap my pampered life (actually it’s my life expectancy I’m quite fond of) … but I do like being here. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Log cabin finished

Here is what my big log cabin blocks turned into - as promised, I did the boring old straight furrows ... but sometimes the classics are the best. I tried out a few border fabrics but nothing really worked - so again, went back to the old ways, no border at all and a small red print on the binding. It's heading off to the beach house to replace the one on our bed which is just a smidge too small. No such problems here, it's a hoofer.

The quilting is an allover pattern from Christina at A Few Scraps called "Tickled" - I was wondering how on earth to quilt this thing and thought I would distract myself with a few blogs ... and what do you know, she had posted the perfect pattern. I scaled it up a bit and it's not nearly as even as her examples, but it worked really well and was a notch up from an allover meander. Which was my fallback position.

I did the binding at quilters on Thursday, which was lovely - a smaller group than usual but had a good chat with various people who are making lovely things!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A peaceful weekend

We had a lovely quiet weekend just passed - it rained most of the day Saturday, and Sunday was cold and wintry with a biting wind down from the hills. It was nice to have nowhere to go and nothing to do for a change. On Saturday afternoon I went to the Canberra Art Market - local artists across the full range of  styles (and talent) - which was very interesting but I didn't buy anything. I thought I might if something really spoke to me, but nothing did.

It was held in the Yarralumla Woolshed, which is a woolshed (duh) that's now used for everything from barn dances to art exhibitions ... but it's fundamentally still a woolshed. And still smells very strongly of sheep. But it's historical, and kind of cool, and in Canberra we latch onto every little bit of pre-planned city history we can, because heaven only knows we don't have much of it. I have just googled and the woolshed was built in 1904, which makes it one of the dozen oldest buildings within twenty miles, and worthy of the highest heritage listing.

Saturday night a friend offered to have the boys offer for pizza and a DVD, so my husband and I went to dinner and a movie! Such excitement. We saw the Grand Budapest Hotel, which was very funny and entertaining and kept us both interested all the way through. I haven't been to the movies for a while though - my husband queued and bought the tickets and a wine and popcorn combo! What the hell is that I said, and he said it's the wine and popcorn combo, two glasses of the house white and a jumbo popcorn for $20. Which is an excellent price, just slightly unexpected ... the world of movie going has clearly moved on while I was at home raising the children.

Sunday I dragged number one son out for a walk and to admire the glories of a Canberra autumn. Beautiful trees everywhere. He said that I was being embarrassing and if I didn't stop taking photos of the trees he would run off home and I could do the rest of the walk by myself ...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The red centre

Our visitors are back home again now, but as a last outing we went to the Botanic Gardens (I know! how exciting are we all! rave on, people) to see the new red centre garden. They have re-created the desert centre of much of Australia - trucked in a heap of dirt and rocks apparently, and used an existing microclimate. It's new, so not very grown, but honestly? I don't think it's going to get much more exciting than this.

But it was interesting and there are good informative signs here and there, and we all learnt something (except for my children, who were off on an all-day playdate, which is why we got to read the signs in relative tranquillity). I just loved the statue of a thorny devil. It's about four feet high and luckily not life size (they are only about six inches long) but such a cool animal.

Here is a photo of me, with my brother, sister in law and nephew. We are a fairly tall family - I have heaps of wedding photos with my side of the family, where I look like a perfectly normal person; and then with my husband's side of the family, where I look like Andre the Giant in ivory brocade drag.

We had lunch in the cafe afterwards; sitting outside under the trees which was all very lovely until my husband got crapped on by an enormous currawong. It was like being pooped on by a small dog. From a height. Oh, how we laughed and laughed ...