The whales didn’t like the weather either!

We are enjoying a three day break on Fraser Island, staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and is world heritage listed. It is 300 km north of Brisbane. The resort is an ecotourism resort with minimum interference with the environment. As I write I’m relaxing beside the pool.

It’s quite breezy so not many people are brave enough to be swimming.

The island is 120km long by 20km wide. The original people here were the ‘Butchella’ people and their name for the island was gari which means paradise. One of the fresh water creeks, Eli Creek, flows over 80 million litres of fresh water into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Yesterday we went on a whale watching cruise from the island. It was very windy which meant it was quite rough. The catamaran took us up to the northern end of the island where there is a sheltered bay on the mainland side. It’s called Platypus Bay and the humpback whales like to stop there for a week or so to rest and to teach their calves some life skills. The lungs of a humpback are the size of a small vehicle and a calf can drink up to 500 litres of milk per day. They can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes and the tail of each is unique like our finger prints.

We saw several pods of whales and some were quite close to us but they weren’t doing any of their party tricks. No clapping or breaching so this was very disappointing.

The wind was very strong and the waves were quite big so our little cat was bouncing a lot. My arm and leg muscles all felt very tight last night as they’d worked very hard just hanging on. It was quite exhausting. Quite a few people were ill but not us, fortunately.

It wasn’t safe to unload us at the island because of the wind so we were taken to Urangan on the mainland and then bussed to the ferry and brought back to Kingfisher by ferry. We have a voucher to do the cruise again because of the weather so hopefully we will get that chance on a better day when the whales want to play.

But we have seen whales. I can’t say we enjoyed the day but we endured the day and we did see whales.

A pleasant day at Brisbane’s Southbank”

This weekend was the Regional Flavours promotion of Queensland produce at Southbank, the site of Expo 88 beside the Brisbane River. As you know, we do enjoy our fresh food and visiting the fresh food markets in Europe.

So yesterday morning we caught the train from our local station at Lota for the 35 minute ride to Southbank.

When we arrived we found that many others had arrived before us and the market stalls were very busy with queues to buy goods at most of them. The regions of Queensland had displays of both fresh food and goods produced in the region from that.

We weren’t tempted to buy much as we didn’t have the car. I lived in The South Burnett for ten years and so bought a bag of curry flavoured peanuts for old times sake. Kingaroy is famous for its peanut van which sits beside the main road into town and sells peanuts with many flavours.

You could buy a stemless plastic recyclable wine glass for $5 and visit the area which showcased the many wine-producing companies of Queensland for tastings. We do not really enjoy tasting many wines in quick procession so we didn’t bother with that.

Many stalls were selling food for eating on the run- everything from berries to ice cream to chicken wings to camel milk and camel cheese to sliders and tagines. There didn’t seem to be an area where you could sit down to have a proper meal within the Regional Flavours displays and since we like to sit down and enjoy our food, we ate at one of the local restaurants, French Martini, where we both enjoyed moules cooked in white wine and lemon with a baguette. I also enjoyed my glass of French Chablis. The moules were delicious but the baguette was quite disappointing – not up to the standard I expect of French breads. We sat and enjoyed ourselves over our leisurely lunch. I felt quite disloyal eating at a French restaurant on this day but consoled myself with the thought that the mussels would have been local.

After lunch we wandered back alongside the river to South Brisbane Station, enjoying the lovely ambience of Southbank where so many families enjoyed the artificial beach and the parklands.

All in all, a very pleasant few hours!

Loved reading about some of my female ancestors

I’ve just read Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon – Women’s Lives And The Fight For Equality by Frances Bevan.

My first contact with Frances came about a few years ago when I searched for Radnor Street Cemetery on Facebook and her name popped up. I found that she researches the lives of the people buried in this old cemetery and writes their stories. She also leads tours of the cemetery on one Sunday per month through the warmer months. The cemetery is in Swindon, a railway town in Wiltshire about a ninety minute drive west of London. Consequently I can’t go on the tours but I can read her stories and since many of my Alley family, my paternal line, are buried there I really enjoy reading them.

In fact, it was through communicating with Frances that I found and have met some cousins who are very special to me. When Frances asked me if I knew Wendy Burrows who was also searching for information about Frederick Alley, it lead me on the journey to find my cousins. We went to Swindon where Frances, Wendy and her husband, Frank, David and I enjoyed a wonderful day together. We have since met and stayed with my lovely cousin, Kay Prosser, and her husband Ben in Victoria on Vancouver Island and they have been to stay with us in Brisbane. When you discover at 52 that you were adopted, finding and meeting and becoming close to your birth family is very special. It gives you back your sense of identity and you know where you fit in the world.

Reading about the women in my family in Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon is also special and I really appreciate the work that Frances does. My Grand Great Uncle, George Richman Alley had one son and seven daughters. The daughters are pictured Below. Amelia Annie Alley and her sister, Ethel Gertrude Alley had a millinery business at 90 Victoria Road. Ethel Gertrude Alley married William Hewer and they ran the Oddfellows’ Arms. The youngest sister Eva married George Babington and they opened a drapery store next door to the milliners. Mabel Alley was awarded the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service in 1960 as she was sub Post Mistress at Westcott Place for more than fifty years.

Emma Louisa Hull, née Alley, another of the sisters, was a member of the Women’s Freedom League and was active in the fight for the vote for women. She was arrested twice and imprisoned for short times.

Eileen Kostitch, née Babington, was the daughter of Eva Alley & George Babington fought with the Yugoslavian forces against the Germans in World War II. She died there of ill health and is buried in Western Bosnia.

I think there have been some amazing women in my family!

Details of life in Swindon and of the women who fought for women’s rights can be found in this well researched book. I found it fascinating.

Oceania Cruises wows us again!

A couple of weeks ago we received an invitation to a luncheon from Oceania Cruises. We thought we’d go along ….. It would probably be finger food and we’d stand around for an hour or so, trying to juggle glasses of wine and plates of food as we chatted to fellow Oceania cruisers before hearing the promotional messages but it would be OK.

So we caught the train into the city, found 480 Queen Street and caught the lift to level 4 and entered Otto Ristorante, a beautiful Italian restaurant with a view of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge.

This was a special, sit-down, a-la-carte meal with lovely wines. It was Oceania thanking some 60 of us for being loyal Oceania cruisers. The food was delicious as you would expect of a company which promises the finest cuisine at sea. What’s more, they did not use it as an opportunity to sell more cruises.

We were very impressed with the restaurant too. It is a beautiful venue and the food and the service were great. We’d like to return.

So, thank you Oceania. We really enjoyed ourselves.

An enjoyable afternoon at the movies with Red Joan

Last Thursday we went to the movies at Cineplex Victoria Point to see Judi Dench in Red Joan and we really enjoyed it. This is our favourite movie theatre with very comfortable seats and plenty of room to stretch your legs and it is so much cheaper than other theatre chains. Parking is easy too. So why would you go anywhere else?

The movie is based on a book of the same name by Jennie Rooney inspired by the life of Melita Norwood who was a secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. In the movie, Joan is befriended by communists whilst studying physics at university. She becomes secretary to a physicist researching the atomic bomb and leaks documents to her friends.

The movie begins with the arrest of the elderly Joan who is played by Judi Dench. We thought it was a great role for her and we really enjoyed the movie.

A pleasant week in Ayr, North Queensland

Last week we flew to Townsville where my daughter picked us to drive us to Ayr where she teaches Japanese. It was Friday night so first we went to the CBar on the Esplanade in Townsville for a Friday night drink. For dinner, we chose to go to A Touch of Salt which turned out to be a great choice. I really enjoyed my sand crab and scallop dumplings although David wasn’t overly impressed with his beef short ribs. Jac had vegan dumplings and they were good too.

Ayr is about an hour south of Townsville usually but, at the moment, roadworks are slowing it down.

Staying in Ayr is very relaxing. It’s a small country town and everything is within walking distance. Everyday we would wander up the street to our favourite coffee shop, Chill, for our caffeine hit. We went to the movies to see Rocket Man which we all enjoyed. I usually manage to find something that takes my fancy in the little boutiques and this time, I found a groovy, bright comfortable pair of pants that were actually made on the Gold Coast.

I visited the Japanese classroom at one of the school and it looks a very inviting environment in which to learn about the language and culture of Japan.

It was a lovely week staying with my daughter and I look forward to returning soon.

A fictional tale about the workings of the legal system in the USA

I think it is probably twenty-five years or so since I first read a novel by John Grisham and I remember particularly enjoying The Pelican Brief and The Client amongst others. He was one of my favourite authors.

A couple of weeks ago I found his 2017 novel, The Rooster Bar in our bookshelves so I decided to read it. It’s a story about three final year law students in America, each of whom have racked up a $200,000 loan for their university fees. They’ve been conned into attending a second rate law college and are unlikely to ever be able to repay the loan as they have no hope of getting a job in a law firm.

They decide to practice law illegally without the qualifications and that is where the trouble starts.

I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t one of my favourites. I wouldn’t want to read it again and I wouldn’t recommend it to you.