Conference with a view

So many conference venues I have visited either don’t have windows or they are heavily shaded. What a treat this week while attending a University Community Safety and Wellbeing conference; windows and views. 

The Elizabeth Street clock tower completed in 1907 is a Melbourne landmark. Glimpsing it signals proximity to Flinders Street railway station. 

This picture was taken from a room on the twelfth floor of Victoria University, 300 Flinders Street. 

Pretty in pink

See how the size of this glorious pink crepe myrtle tree dwarfs the cars parked nearby. I couldn’t resist capturing the pretty pink flowers contrasted against the vibrant green leaves of the tree behind. 

Marriage inequality

Forty five years ago today on a chilly Spring morning in England my brother aged five and I aged eight pulled on purple velvet trousers. Long sleeved shirts featuring a small floral motif in shades of purple, lilac and lavender against a white background and cravats completed the outfit. Later that day in 1972 we would parade down the aisle of the Church of the Redeemer in Birmingham with our mother as she took the hand of my first step father. This was the beginning of a decade and a half of an abusive relationship that at its lowest point saw us experience the despair of living in a ‘battered wives home’. Marriage vows didn’t hold much weight with this step father. 

Seventeen years ago today on a chilly Autumn day in Australia my partner aged thirty seven and I aged thirty six stood in our underwear as our torsos were smeared in Vaseline and glitter. White faux fur boots, shorts and polar bear heads and arms completed the outfit. Later that day we would parade up Oxford Street onboard the Noah’s Ark float with hundreds of other people celebrating diversity and calling for equality as part of Sydney Mardi Gras 2000. 

Under UK law and being British subjects we were able to marry at the Consulate in Sydney in 2014. Our non-abusive marriage is not recognised in Australia. The choice of entering a loving same sex marriage is not available to our Australian friends. 

Happy Mardi Gras 2017. 

Friendship rekindled

During the last twelve months of residing in the U.K. we became friends with a lovely couple. They shared our love of great food, wine and conversation. We enjoyed going to antique fairs, afternoon teas and dining in each other’s homes.

The date drew nearer for when we were due to emigrate to Australia. They told us that they were relieved that they hadn’t known us longer as the farewell would would have been much worse. 
We exchanged emails and Christmas cards for a number of years. Somewhere during six house moves we lost touch. Towards the end of October last year we were delighted to hear via LinkedIn that they would be visiting Australia in 2017.
Over their five days’ stay in Sydney we caught up for dinners and a lunch. The nineteen years slipped away in conversation, laughter and gaiety. 
I took the above picture of three of us chatting while gazing across Coogee Beach. There is mutual agreement that we will all catch up again, when we can. 

Variation on an eclair

Our regular lunchtime haunt on weekends is the Pig and Pastry café, Petersham. After enjoying savoury dishes we normally crave a chocolate treat. 

Last Sunday we were not disappointed; a variation on an eclair. None of the traditional choux pastry and cream was to be seen. Instead, alternating blobs of milk and white chocolate cream sandwiched between Genoese fingers topped with chocolate icing. Delicious!

One Central Park

Slowly capturing views of this growing tower, this is the east face. I like the contrast of the neighbouring sun kissed terracotta buildings against living greenery. The north and west faces can. E seen in Vertical Garden and Poetry of people and place
Built on the site of a brewery that was hidden from view by a high concertinaed brick wall, One Central Park rises above eateries, design studios and fashion stores located in the podium. 
The Old Clare Hotel, seen in the middle of the picture is one of the heritage buildings that have been retained as part of the 5.8 hectare site in Chippendale, Sydney. 

Experimental walk

Rear lane, Newtown

I was at my physical fittest when I walked for forty minutes to work and the same amount home again every day. Increasing living costs and a change of employer has led to living further out from the city and a reliance on public transport. I try to incorporate some exercise into my journey by catching the bus from a stop further from home, walking for longer than is necessary between buses and getting off early on the return trip. 

As the start of a new academic year looms my thoughts are taken up with how to avoid the morning frustration of having to wait for ten to twenty minutes for the express bus from Central Railway Station. The queue stretches around a quarter of Belmore Park to facilitate the transportation of ten plus thousand students each morning. 
There are a few options available to me, including a ten minute walk down the road to catch the 370. The route is picturesque, zigzagging from Leichhardt, through Annandale and Glebe to Newtown. As the total journey time can take over one hour on one bus I opt for a split journey that includes joining the 370 later along its meandering path. 
This morning leaving the house at 8:15, I catch the bus from the stop nearest home on the Parramatta Road. Alighting at around 8:30, I walk a few steps along Mallet Street to be greeted by the familiar sound of song birds that reside in the area. Also, the electric buzz of cicadas in the trees of Camperdown Park; it’s going to be a hot day! 
Being on a schedule I refrain from stopping to take pictures every few steps as I rediscover the quiet backstreets of Newtown. Row upon row of simple Victorian terraced houses squeezed into every available space and pockets of vegetation jostling for a spot to burst forth. 
When I reach King Street I am confronted by the thunder of cars, buses and trucks speeding towards the city. This is an aspect of the suburb I don’t miss. 
Taking my place in the shade of the awning I forget to look around to check if it’s safe to stop. The look on the face of a young skateboarder barely missing me lets me know that it was not. 
The journey from Newtown to work usually takes twenty minutes. Queuing for the traffic lights as we approach Botany Road in Alexandria has quickly eaten into this overly ambitious target. I reach work at 9:50, an hour after boarding the bus. Even though I managed to take a rather lovely twenty minute walk the outcome of my experiment was disappointing. Maybe I can improve on the overall time by setting out earlier from home. 
 

White knight

Knight in white shining armour

I humbly offer thanks for

Rescuing me from storm’s grip. 

Although wind did whirl and whip,

With torrential rain pouring. 

Chill of sodden clothes gnawing;

Welcome sight to see your face. 

Now dry in warmth of your embrace. 

Mutually beneficial 

There are people in my life who push my buttons, causing me to question my words and actions. Yesterday for example, the first email of the day was from a work colleague asking for  a meeting to discuss myself and my team moving out of our offices. Some of their people would be moving in next week. They appeared in my office, shortly after receiving news that I knew nothing about the relocation. We exchanged points of view in a jovial manner. I offered one of the desks in the area for one of their team members, as a stop gap measure.

A small time later I received another email from them, letting me know that they had no intention of kicking us out. I know that they are not the catalyst, there are more senior powers at work. The communication ended with the following “Sorry for the stressful start to your morning.” What had I done to elicit this statement? I had been reasonable, calm, and accommodating in my discussion with them; in no way stressed.

An article from fastcompany.com What Happened When I Stopped Saying “Sorry” at Work For a Week explains the positive impact on the apologiser of replacing “sorry” with “thank you”. If my colleague had thanked me rather than apologising, I would also have been spared my own negative feelings of self doubt.

Renaissance woman on a bus

This butterfly reminds me of a morning journey in Spring when I experienced living art. 

I look up to see an attractive woman in her early forties glide down the aisle with the grace of a ballet dancer.  

I notice she wears silver sneakers without laces and black stockings beneath a soft black, calf length, bias cut skirt. The combination provides contrast to a loose fitting, burnt orange, wide necked, bat wing sleeve jumper. 

An oversized black leather shoulder bag guides my attention to the glimpse of a tattoo of ancient script on her right forearm and tasteful antique gold rings, four on each hand. 

Dark brown hair is scraped back into a small tidy bun. Gold dropper earrings with pale yellow stones, maybe citrine hang from sensual lobes. A clear Mediterranean complexion provides the backdrop for thin high arched brows above dark accepting eyes, a slight shadow of tiredness below. A slim refined aquiline nose carries my gaze to unsmiling dark blue-purple lips. 

I realise this person is an ideal subject for a modern variation of a renaissance portrait.