Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love the city of Melbourne!

I’ve just driven Daughter Number 2 to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre to sit her penultimate exam and I have a few hours to kill before she’ll emerge with that glad-it’s-over-but-not-really-sure-how-it-went feeling.  I’m sitting beside the Yarra sipping a perfectly chilled sauvignon blanc on a perfectly warm evening. There are suited business people all around, winding down after a hard day at the office and t-shirted casual types just out enjoying the view. The architecture is interesting, the river is languid and the atmosphere is relaxed.

Helemeted, lycra-clad, back-pack toting cyclists weave seamelessly in and out of family groups, meandering couples, tourists with maps and people just wandering and wondering what wonderful Melbourne-food they should choose for dinner.  As I watch the passing parade, I can’t help but wonder what Swedish cyclists would think of the casual and flowing, “lane-free” approach to cycling on this promenade and I’m also wondering if cyclist behaviour is learned thing or a temperament thing. Are Swedes organised and linear and do Aussies go with the flow?

Bicycle lanes in Stockholm are clearly defined and heaven help the unsuspecting tourist who should step into the path of a determined, destination-oriented cyclist! I have been the target of the occasional expletive and the aggressive ringing of bicycle bells when I have inadvertently violated the Swedish cyclists' sanctioned space. My husband and I have often joked that if we’re to meet our demise in Stockholm, we’re more likely to be taken out by a bike than a car! Here the pace is slightly slower but the bicycle and pedestrian blend lends some pleasing grace and artistry to the otherwise pragmatic endeavour of two-wheeled commuting. There’s no bell-ringing and it all just seems to work.

Note: My grainy iPhone picture does no justice to this most photogenic city.  For some excellent local shots see

Monday, October 11, 2010


Raucous [raw-kuhs]
1. harsh; strident; grating: raucous voices, raucous laughter
2. rowdy; disorderly: a raucous party.

I’m onto my second gin and tonic but (surprisingly) it’s not me who’s raucous, it’s the birds! It’s blissfully mild out in the backyard because Spring has finally settled in. Dinner is in the oven...yes, it’s still cool enough to cook...and I’m taking half an hour with an escapist novel under the lemon-scentd gum thanks to author Donna Leon who transports me to exotic foreign places even when I have heaven in my own backyard.

Swedish birds tweet in tones I can only describe as decorous. I am always amused by their dignified restraint. Even the skata don’t swoop and screech like the lorikeets and wattle birds currently decimating the delicate gum blossoms above my head.  Australian birds are loud, unruly and raucous. One local website categorises our backyard birds as hooters, cacklers, carollers, criers and screechers!

We took some Swedish friends camping in one of Victoria’s famous National Parks a few years ago and the dawn cacophony had them laughing in their tent along with the kookaburras. A dawn chorus it was Not! A chorus implies something melodic and Aussie birds know only decibels and disorderly! We all emerged from the warmth of our winter sleeping bags to walk down to Tidal River to enjoy the particularly unSwedish performance of wattle birds, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, magpies, kookaburras, sulphur-crested cockatoos and assorted other local avian types!

So as I sit and enjoy the sunset squawking and watch the burnished gold fade from the sensuous limbs of the gum tree I’m lucky enough to have in my own backyard, I’m thinking of the Swedish birds just waking and shaking their wings…and twittering their way into another northern hemisphere morning.


Saturday, October 2, 2010


Without you I am blue.

Not the deep drowning blue of a thousand fathoms
But quiet and still like the soft blue haze of morning
With only the hum of my heartbeat to keep me company.

And there’s a midday blue as well
Brilliant, bright and so sharp it takes my breath away
Clear and sapphire-hard as your absence.

At day’s end, wrapped in the indigo blue of evening
Sprinkled with stars, yet empty
A melancholy blue that makes my heart ache.