Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Floriadne 2012 & Spring Flowers

           Yep! You guessed it. Floriade is on here in Canberra again. It is a festival of spring time and her floral bounty. The displays this year, as for every year, astound me.
I always wonder how they time everything so beautifully to have the flowers last for the whole time the festival is on. Especially so, as there is always changeable weather  in Canberra at this time of year. We can get everything from frosts to very warm dry days, strong winds and heavy rain with thunder storms.
 Not all of the photographs I have added for this post are taken at Floriade, I will label them accordingly for you.
The first pic above his text is of one of my favourite reasons to go to the botanic gardens in Canberra.He is a Gippsland water dragon. The day I took this picture was sunny but cold and I disturbed this little bloke as he was trying to warm himself in the sunshine near the information office and bookshop area. He tried to squeeze himself back between the rocks to hide from me. On warm days and during the summer these dragons are everywhere in the gardens but more prolific around the waterfall area and water features.

The flowers at Floriade are centered around Tulips of all colors, shapes, styles and sizes. each year there is a different theme. The plantings are done in patterns and pictures which can be explored, worked out, if you so wish, and seen better from the heights of the ferris wheel in the park. To tell you the truth, this year I didn't even bother to try and work them out. I just enjoyed the flowers and tent displays.

I thought these white and pink Tulips were lovely. Then again, I liked them all. You can see some of the under plantings in the closer photos. They included Hyacinths, Viola, English daisies, Daffodils , Poppies and Jonquils.

Same bed taken further back. these flowers must have to be some of the most photographed in all of Australia, going by the people there, nearly all if not all of them were clicking away.

This is the lake in the centre of commonwealth park where Floriade is held each year. The bed of Daffodils are finished flowering. Of course you can see that can't you.
 The beds along here were planted out with  themed patterns. With some imagination you can sort of see that the yellow tulips here form a stiletto.
 Isn't this pretty. White tulips, small red tulips, white hyacinths and English daisies adorn this bed.

Another view of the lake , across one of the tulip beds.

This purple Tulip wasn't sure which color it wanted, so it chose to be both purple and red combined.

A double white tulip.
My hand, I stabbed it with a knife while trying to remove an avocado seed. How stupid, I know very well how to do that and went ahead to do it the wrong way. My fault, but I did have a very sore hand for a few days.Hahaha.

A white fringed Tulip.
 Along this walkway in amongst the trees and on both sides of the pathway, hundreds of white perspex peace cranes had been hung. It looked really good. You can't see it very well in the photos though.
 The picture below this shows a closer example of the cranes.

Red Tulips. I love red. There were many different shades of red amongst the tulips displayed.
 The yellow, red and purple tulips in this bed were planted so that they were different heights and rose and fell like a big quilt or clouds or rippling waves.

Red red tulips, red English daisies and the smaller red parrot tulips .

These raised beds were in the Bunnings display area. They were planted with edible things, leafy greens, herbs and vegetables. I want these for my new yard when I move. They are a better height than many raised beds that I have seen and of a proportion that allowed you to stand and reach across to tend the plants, without getting down on my haunches and hurting my stupid legs and knees. Because they are metal they would hopefully last for many years as well.

I love Poppies. These ones are either Artists poppies or Iceland poppies. They are tough annuals so will grow easier than the big poppies.

Below is a closer view of a gorgeous poppy. These flowers say "Spring!" to me.

A big bed of little white daisies. Oh my do you think I can remember their proper name? 
I know I should but........

A big steam powered Calliope that is at Floriade every year. 
  The next lot of photos I have displayed in this post are not taken at Floriade. The scene above is taken from The Red Hill lookout. Which is one of several placed on the hills around Canberra to view the city from different angles.In the center you can see the big flagpole that sits above new Parliament house. The lake beyond is Lake Burley Griffin. Named after the bloke who won the competition to design Canberra. It runs through the city and is made by the damming of the Molongolo river, which flows down into the Murrumbidgee river. Peter and I were up there last weekend and went into the restaurant/ cafe up the top for afternoon tea. I always wanted to go in there.

The next photo is taken in The Victory Memorial gardens in Wagga's main street.
I think this is called loropetalum?
It was in the sensory garden there.

Sweet Williams in the Victory Memorial Gardens, Wagga.

Orange Calendula. Wagga gardens again.
 Perfect yellow Calendula. Wagga again.
 We sat in the park here at lunchtime and phoned the real estate lady to make an offer on the house we are going to buy.  So, another memory made. Another memory to add to times spent in this park over many years of visits during my life.
 As a child, feeding the ducks and being scared of the honking geese there.
 Of running through here barefoot and grubby, climbing on the trees, putting my bare feet in the lagoon and poking the water with sticks at 10 years old.
 Of the possum who made us teenaged girls scream and run when he showed himself in the tree that hung over the bridge in the main street right in our faces, late one night after a rock concert.
 Of other photos taken of my own children playing on the play equipment in the park.
Of lunchtime meetings with my husband in the park for lunch, when he worked at the council across the road when my eldest son was a baby.
 Of  soft serve ice creams that melted and ran down your arms and shirt in the summer heat,  bought from the dairy delight shop just around the corner in the main street, now closed.
Or my children, in their teens, laughing wildly as a bird pooped on my head while we had a picnic lunch of Kentucky Fried chicken there.
Of  attempts to escape into the shade of big trees on hot sweltering summer days .
Or waiting as a child to stand underneath that huge old pine tree to see the Christmas lights turned on.
 The pic above is at Wagga again. A bright bed of Livingstone daisies and viola.

Back in Canerra one of my favorite Sunday things to do is go to the Kingston Bus depot markets. They have gourmet foods and plants, craft and arts, buskers, a food hall area, antiques and a junk place out the back.
One of the things I will miss when I move from Canberra is this place.

 Kingston markets again. The still warm woodfired bread, antipasto, and strawberries are a highlight.

These next pics are of the orchids at the botanic gardens again. Don't know their names.

The color of this orchid reminds me of little eggs.

Little papery daisies planted near the waterfalls at the royal botanic gardens, Canberra.

Friday, 28 September 2012

           I hope if anyone reads this post they are well and happy in their lives. 
Floriade is on the tele (Better Homes and Garden's show) at the moment as I write. I hope to go there for a look tomorrow. It is spring time here.
Oh I so love spring, don't you? It is my favorite season.
 Since I have been in here writing my story, there have been changes happening in my life.
 I thought I would record them here.
 I am being positive at moving forwards towards our future.
We are in the process of purchasing a house in my old home town of Wagga,  New South Wales.
The house is an old double red brick place probably built in the late 1940's or early 50's going by my knowledge of the housing styles in the area. It is solid as the proverbial brick s**t house.
In fact the building report has stated that the timbers in it are much harder and stronger than the recommended building standards require. No movement in the building and the pest report that is required of such purchases states that there are no problems as well.
All is go!
 I am pleased to have found a house that is also out of the residential areas of Wagga that I suspect will become lower class (rough) in the near future. It is however on the brink of a semi industrial area, I don't see that as a problem, but more of an asset if we need to sell for what ever reason in the future.
The house is in reasonable walking and close driving distance to the main CBD of Wagga. Tick.
Otherwise it seems to tick the boxes of what we are looking for to settle and retire. It has nice big rooms.
A good size yard, even though it may take a bit of work to make it what we want. But that should be totally enjoyable for me.
Just under the 900 square meter block. So, room to build a studio and work shed for us and have a chook yard and garden. Albeit there will be some work to remove old cement cracked pathways that radiate throughout the back yard. there is a humongous old  hills type rotary clothes line that will have to go.
I have been looking at chicken suppliers today. At the different breeds and how to get them.
Oh this is going to be so much fun!
 We are in the process of prioritizing the things that we need first to make this home into ours.
We have finance approved. Tick.
One thing though. The contract arrived by mail today. It was drenched and dripping from the horrid weather we are having, but also our names were spelled wrong. So it will have to be returned and rectified. Minor setback.
Then we need a fence to keep beloved little doggie Rufus safe. To be achieved.
Then next; a tin prefab shed to store all our jumk in and later to store gardening gear in as there is no storage in the yard..
The house does not have built in wardrobes but there is plenty of room in each of the 3 bedrooms to have them added. There are 3 joinery type businesses just near the house.
Minor repairs to one tile on the roof, and a drawer front in the kitchen is missing, yep easy!
 I said minor repairs, as the interior of the house is in very good order, the kitchen and bathroom have been modernized.
 The advert said it was a 4 bedroom home but as one of the (so called) bedrooms is adjoining the dining room and we will use it as a computer room / office area.
 The home is in a safe, flood free area. Tick!
 Strange. The building report man said that the heater in the lounge room is of a style that he had never seen before. It has a copper pipe running from under the house and the building inspector said he couldn't ascertain if it was for oil of gas heating?   Maybe we could go to a metal working place and have an insert made to convert it to a wood heater as it looks like one of those old fashioned enamelled yellow looking wood heaters from the outside. I think they were called warmray. Chimney looks like it is still intact. Pest report, likewise, passed inspection, so no termites to eat the house away. They are a problem in Australia.
 Also has 2x air conditioners and an evaporative air conditioner, which will not be used as I don't like them.
Other than that; I want to have solar power installed. I am not interested in having the amount of solar power that will require selling our power back to the grid, but rather supplementing the amount of power we consume and therefore reducing our exponentially growing power bills in the future.
AND a studio to play in. Yes, I know I have mentioned this subject before but....I am enjoying the possibilities! And the planning that goes with it. I have an area envisioned that would  be suitable.
Oh I have plans!
 Although the plans for a studio are not a first priority. They do include an additional toilet as there is not a second one inside the house. Which is run from, as required of newer council requirements, water collected in a rainwater tank, as will likewise be the water supply to my studio/work area.
It will be interesting to see the advancement and achievement of my dreams for that in a few years won't it? What has been achieved and afforded financially, as opposed to what is the dream?
But......for now, I will plan and dream and, and, and, sign papers and commit my next few years to paying back the loan that will  make it all a reality.
 Anyone who knows me will know that over the last 4 and and half years that I have lived in Canberra I have desperately missed having the security of actually belonging somewhere on my own little patch of earth and doing what I wanted on said block.  You just cannot do that when you are renting someone else's property.
Once you have your own place you have difficulty with the restrictions placed upon a rented property owned by someone else. And! the inconvenience of having to leave a property owned by some one else who decides to sell and move on to their next project, and finding another place to live. As has happened to us for the third time since being here.
I do recognize that it is their property , but it is so difficult to keep moving after having your own place and doing it every year or so as we have had to do since moving to Canberra.
I have loved living in Canberra, it is a great place to live and I have enjoyed living here. If I could change things and stay I would. But the fact is we can not afford to live here with the high costs of accommodation and housing in general.
 Work here is good, and I have always had the type of  work here that I am able to do, be in high demand. To the point of being offered more work than I am physically able to handle.
But that is not a future at my age, so I have to move onwards and hopefully upwards. I will have to look for work all over again in Wagga after not living there for 28 years.
There are of course reservations in moving back to Wagga . There is one person there that I do not want o ever be in my life again, if I was to see her on the street I don't know what I would do. But. Hopefully. Hopefully that stage in my life is finished with. As hopefully my association with her, and her catastrophic position in my family is likewise.
How do you trust again after such adversity caused by her idiocy?
Ah well. That is another story eh?

 Back to the beginning.
The first photo at the top of this post.
 It was taken right outside my back gate here in Canberra, a few weeks ago. Wattle at the height of it's flowering.. There is a walking track/ bicycle path that runs along the back yard of my fence. Spring is here! Flowering wattle trees are endemic at this time of year here. I think the one out the back is known as the black wattle.
 Lovely isn't it?

The second photo at the beginning of this post is also taken from the walkway at my back fence. It is my view of Mount Taylor. Canberra is surrounded by a ring of such hills and is in a hollow. Which explains why it is known as a cold arse hole of a place. It is lovely though. As these areas are preserved as nature reserves, it is a tribute to urban planning design, the bush and open areas are preserved for the future. Pretty special in my mind. We walked up to the top of Mount Taylor last year. When my old dodgy legs were feeling pretty good. I couldn't manage it at the moment though. It was a pretty steep hike. Well worth the trouble. Although along the cemented walking track lots of fit and healthy joggers do it all the time, it was a challenge for me. We walked up the other side, our side, and kept off the marked tracks. There are hundreds of Eastern grey kangaroos up there. Big and small. I enjoyed seeing the wildflowers that are endemic to this area. Some of them quite specialized and rare, considering we are living  just a few kilometers south of Australia's capital city.
Change of subject.
  9 weeks ago I went on google and found a lady near me who does Hypnotherapy. I joined her program to lose weight. So far I have lost 9 and a half kilos. It hasn't been easy but I think I feel confident I have mastered it. Rather than a diet, it is more like a lifestyle change. Well, so far so good. I am doing ok. I have lost the cravings and compulsion to eat things that I know are not in my interest. There is accompanied with the program, a lifetime support via email, phone and requested visitation with this lady. So far so good.
Now I can look at something and say "Oh that looks Yum! But I don't want it and I am not going to have it." I haven't missed what I know is naughty food. I am resisting. I like it. The test will be when my Mother comes back to stay with us in a few weeks and pushes her habits onto me again. But...at the moment I am doing O.K. I will go back if the need arises to visit Ilona again for her help.
 Anyway, I guess that this post is pretty boring for others. Rather it is a log of my intentions and happenings at the present time. As the header said, What is in my heart and my head.
Good Night.
Love Linda.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

          I took myself walkabout this weekend. Down to the beautiful south coast of New South Wales. Bateman's bay is only 2 and a 1/2 hours from here and is an easy trip.
I see that the pic upload thingy in blogger has been changed since I was in here last. I have pics taken over the last few days but am not willing to work out the new system at the moment, so I will just write.
I left on Saturday morning and stayed in a motel overnight. I quite enjoy being able to run away by my self sometimes for a bit of soul food. The bush and beaches down there are that to me.

 I walked along the beaches and tracks in Murramarang national park which travels along the coast just north of Bateman's bay.
I soaked my soul and heart in the perfect blue - green - turquoise colors of the clear sparkling transparent waters.
I watched the waves rise up, become transparent, change color then tumble over and foam, to be pulled back into the sea again and listened to their music.
 I got leg cramps all night long from the workout my stupid wobbly old legs had from walking too far in the sand.
I stood still in the bush and absorbed the quiet and listened to the tiny rustlings in the undergrowth and the bird song.
I sat by myself in an Italian restaurant and ate sketti bol and drank a 1/2 carafe of white wine.
I quietly observed birds and animals, sneaking up slowly on them to get pictures.
I drove along narrow lonely dirt roads at slow speed with all the windows wound down, because nobody else was around to bother me and I marveled at the beautiful forests and plants.
I listened to classical music in the car that matched and complimented the scenery.
I paddled in the ocean and laid down on the sand  to feel the sun and embraced the earth.
I climbed over rocky headlands and great rock platforms on beaches that could only be accessed on foot.
I watched the afternoon sun turn white and grey trunk eucalypti silver, and sparkling in dappled sunlight.
I traveled sandy walking tracks in the national parks, and saw rare plants and noted in my mind their difference. There was one particular type of casurina I hadn't seen before. The leaves and form of it were quite distinct.
I absorbed nature's growth, regeneration, decay and beauty in  her magnificent forests.
I saw vegetation change in relation to its distance from the ocean. Tall trees, twisted windswept shrubbery, ferns, different eucalypt species, flowering plants and trees.
I watched sadly as pretty introduced species had invaded the bush, because they had escaped from someone's garden.
 I looked in real estate agents windows at the prices and thought, no thanks, but wouldn't it be nice.
I looked at animal tracks along the beaches and in the bush showing goanna, wombat, bird, kangaroo and lyrebirds markings.
I especially loved the midnight blue, male satin bower bird  at pebbly beach. Just gorgeous and so used to being around people that I could watch him without too much trouble.
I marched in the sand alongside sparse people footprints, making patterns with my shoes and bare feet. recognizing them as I went.
I drove down an isolated bush track high up on the escarpment that said Monga national park. I had previously wanted to explore it. Here I saw unspolied bush, different to the coastal variety, including tall, tall eucalypti and their understory of ferns and big old soft fern trees, thick leaf litter and decaying fallen forest giants returning to the earth.
 I stopped at cafes and ate my lunch at tables outside in the sun and chose healthy food. The mushroom and walnut burger was to die for.
I drove safely and within the speed limit, and let speeding traffic on the highway bypass me. I saw one speedster get chased by a highway patrol car. Serves him right.
I had a lovely time.
Good Night.
Love Linda.

Friday, 20 July 2012


          My mind is whirring at the thought that we may be closer to having something that belongs to us. A home. A tiny bit of dirt on this big country that I belong to, may one day belong to me.
We have been looking at houses, back in Wagga, which is my original home town, the place I was born, and where my children were all born.
We looked at one that immediately peaked my interest on the computer. One of many for sale in Wagga. We had a drive past of it last weekend and the flag was outside saying open house. The real estate lady that I had emailed had told me a different time for the opening so it was by chance that we saw inside it at all.
It is a 3 bedroom house about 30 years old, the kitchen has been renovated, there is a nice big enclosed sunroom attached to the back and a nice new big shed. The yard is a funny shape as it is in a cul-de-sac. It is quite a good size but ends in a pointy triangle at the back. We can get the caravan into the back yard easily. Also at the back of the house is another room that could be used as a 4th bedroom.
I am trying not to get my hopes up, but, I think I want this one. In my mind I have plans already of how I may begin to work on the back yard. Dig out around the shed and make a retaining wall that includes a seat/bench and put a roof over it. Make that outside extra room into a room for Pete to have with his music and display his collections and stuff.
We looked at a couple of other houses that were open, but although they were nice etc, they didn't appeal to me as this one has.
I can have chooks again! Oh I loved having chooks. Such great productive little birdies. Also in the back yard is a large aviary. Hmmm not sure about that, I don't really want to fill it up with too many things to look after. I think the aviary is too close to the house to be a chook pen.
Ever since we left our house in Junee I have been pining for something of my own again. I have missed it so much. Yes I know all the cliches. Its not the house that makes a home it is the people in it. But it was so special to feel that we had something that belonged to us as we did when we owned our own place.I have missed the sense of belonging and security that brings. A future.A place to practice what I would like to preach about garden, earth, sustainable gardening. All that and more. Get in the mud again and red Wagga clay.
 There are a few things that I am hesitant about in deciding to go back to Wagga to live. A few people whose presence turns me off the idea, but there are many other good people I still know in town that I can go visit and call on too.
The other thing I love about the house we have looked at, is its position. It is in a flood free zone. Just 2 blocks from the Wiradjiri walking track and on the side of Willan's hill. A place special to me, a bush reserve dividing Wagga. Also within walking distance to the botanic gardens. My park. The place I played as a child, then frequented as a teenager and was married in, then took my own children there to play.
 I know I shouldn't get my hopes up and am scared to be so excited in case we miss this house and someone gets it first, BUT.......
Wish us luck!
Love Linda.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Fiji Holiday.

 G'Day all,
                Or should I say Bula! Warning. This is a long long post.
Yes we went on our Fiji holiday and have been home a week today. I loved it, but then again I knew I would, I have always had an interest in tropical islands. That might be a hangover from my very early life in the tropics or the influence of old movies and records which I loved growing up, I knew by heart the soundtrack to "South Pacific" which was in my parents music collection and of course played as a tele movie every school holidays.
Anyway, we got to experience some of those special islands ourselves.
Some Fiji info;  Fiji is a short 4 hr flight from Sydney. There is a 2 hour time difference. The population of Fiji is 900.000. Made up of 50% indigenous Fijians, 40% people of Indian descent, the other 10% is made up of Japanese, Asian and European people. Cannibalism was rife in the early days of Fiji but has not been practiced for the last few centuries. Wages here are very low, I was talking to a taxi driver and he told me that the people who work at the resorts earn $3 fiji an hour or $5  if they are supervisors. I was also talking to a lady called Lemba, she was one of the activities officers, who made me a woven hat from palm leaves, she said she was from Lautoka, which is the 2nd biggest city in Fiji and she was saying she had 3 children who lived with her parents from the ages of 3 to 11. She works at the Mana island resort (owned by the Japanese)  for 11 days straight, then goes home for 3 days off. I don't know if her accommodation, travel and keep is included as part of her wages or she has to pay extra for that but she lives in the staff village while working on the island.
 The majority of people are employed in agriculture., Fiji's main export industry in Sugar, they are also known for vanilla production. People live in villages governed by a village chief to whom they refer their problems rather than the police.I think it kind of nice to live in those villages where people know each other and their families for generations despite the state of some of the housing.
The Fijian people are a handsome race, or, I thought they were. They all seem to move with languid grace, appropriate to the climate I guess.They seem strong and well built and always singing and laughing whether it be as entertainment or just as they go about their daily activities. We were sung to in welcome, to share their culture and in leaving the lovely places we visited.  They particularly love children and are very good with them.
The video above is called a spear dance and was held as a welcome to us who took part in a tour that included a ride up the river to a traditional village, a visit to see the village school, have lunch, a swim in a waterfall, a ride on a bamboo raft and a very hairy  ride along the very interesting  Fijian roads, quite an experience is the traffic and road conditions over there! Hahahaha!
On our way to and from the resort on the main island were roadside stalls made from unfinished wood cut straight from the bush and tied and nailed together. On these stalls were stacked oranges and papaya. I looked at the oranges and thought they looked green, speckled and not very nice. The same oranges were included in our buffet meals. They were very sweet and had lots of seeds in them. I wondered what sort they were as they were quite different than the type we see in shops here. The papaya was beautiful too, tasting different to the ones we get here, but I guess the ones we get here had to be picked under ripe to travel as they are a very soft fruit.I also saw stalls with live mud crabs trussed up and bright luscious flowers for sale. Oranges, watermelon, melons and pineapple were a constant on the menus, and used to decorate the pretty cocktail drinks we tried, yummy. I should have taken more pics of those.
 Our first stop off was at the Warwick Resort on the coral coast of Viti Levu. Viti Levu is the biggest island of the Fijian group. The capital city is Suva and we landed at the airport which is in Nadi, which is pronounced with an extra n. So Nandi. Other languages confuse me, and I can't understand the differences between their spelling and the English spelling and pronunciation that I have in my head.  Oh well, hehehe.
the pic above is of the beach at the Warwick resort. It was interesting walking along here as many local villages front on to the beach as well and we watched local people walk straight out into the water and go fishing with nets and hand lines.Also along the roadsides we saw people carrying BIG bush knives and machetes, going to work the fields, I wouldn't want to mess with one of them.
On the way to the first place we stayed in we smiled to see the local bushfire brigade doing a burn off on the side of the hill. The fire was sizzling away and the firemen were laying down on the grass watching it, (supervising)  hahaha.
 Next few pics are of close up stuff along the beach near the Warwick. I like putting bits and bods together and taking close ups.
 Coral, sea urchin and starfish.
 I loved this twisty big old tree between the beach sand and the forest on the banks of a creek that ran into the sea.
 Another compilation pic.
 The creek that runs onto the beach up from the Warwick resort. Loved the lush tropical growth.  Some of the rocks you can see in the water are actually big lumps of long dead coral.
 Two big pots in the extensive landscaped grounds of the Warwick.
 The first 2 days we were there the weather wasn't too brilliant. But it didn't dampen our spirits, or the afternoon cocktail tasting. I think this was pineapple,coconut and raspberry? The building and atmosphere here was beautiful but I had the feeling that the greetings that were given by some staff here were not as genuine as they might have been and I had a bit of a bad experience here. I left my prescription glasses in the room and when I came back to the room after the cleaning lady had been through I couldn't find them. Next day we went on a tour up the river that I mentioned earlier and still couldn't find them so went without them. When we packed our things to go to Mana island they were nowhere and ditto when I did a thorough check when we unpacked again. We made several phone calls back to the Warwick and after some passing around we were told that the cleaner had accidently picked them up and put them in her pocket and taken them home with her. Which was unusual as she was wearing a sulu, the local version of a sarong skirt, so I am thinking there were no pockets in that. I was assured they would be returned and sent to Mana island and I could pick them up from there. After several more phone calls I was informed that I could pick them up from the airport on the way home to Australia. Anyway I did get them back. But it was very suspicious.
 Some of the flowers around the grounds of the Warwick Resort.
The red flower above was quite large, probably 10 to 12 cm long.Don't ask me their names.
 The people around the resort had these white lily thingies tucked in their hair.
 This looks like an iris of some kind.
 These orchids were grown on posts in coconut fibre out in the open.

 The photo above is taken on the tour we did up the river. The man is poling on a small bamboo raft. There were quite a few of these (large and small) tied up along the river banks.
 Photo above and below here are of the waterfall we went to on the tour. Some people jumped in and had a swim in the waterfall, I didn't, I am not very brave, I went in up to my waist on the stairs though.
 One of the two longboats we traveled in. It was really fun. The two guides sang and mucked around the whole time. In the bottom of each of the boats was a plastic bottle with the top half cut out, meant to be used for a bailing scoop. On the way back the faster boat kept dropping back and then running up along side ours and threatening to throw water at us. I think we all got pretty wet, it was fun going through the rapids too. Our guides were real entertainers.
 The village (Namuamua) we visited was a christian one. Although it seems that they hold dear their culture and live according to custom and tradition. We had lunch there and visited the school. This is one of the classrooms at lunchtime. Everyone in together. I was quite shocked at their lack of resources compared to what our Aussie kids have. As you know I work as a school cleaner, and see how much we do have. They lost all of their computers and many materials during the recent floods. We took some books and made money donations to the school as did some of the other tourists.
This village school had about 90 kids and the village has about 300 people. Schools in Fiji go from kindergarten to year 8 level. The village school is a boarding school as well. The people were very friendly and open, sharing what they had. I did find it a bit difficult (ouch) to sit on the mats during lunch and the welcome ceremony with my stiff legs and back.Afterwards they set up craft stalls, I bought a little wooden bowl, a sulu and a shell necklace.
I felt bad because they seemed to have so little compared to what we in western culture have but then thought no... they mightn't have much but what they do have that many of us have largely lost is strong family and tradition and community and if they had the things that we have they may lose much of that culture. So it is really a double edged sword I am judging by. Culture is a terrible thing to lose track of. Money driven.
 The lady in the red sulu (A Sulu is the fijian version of a sarong) was from America. She had a bag of lollies that she was sharing with the kids. Beautiful kids!
 Below is a picture of an old Bure in the village we visited. The new one is much the same but I liked the look of the old one. Bure =  fijian hut or house. Bula is hello. Vinaka is thank you, Moce is good bye. Moce is a bit strange, it is pronounced mo-they. See what I mean about spelling rules haha. They are the few words I can remember anyway.
 Photo below is of a Bure on the river bank that we passed.
 Pic below is of one of our guides and my hubby Peter when we had a ride on the bamboo raft.

 Riotous jungle growth along the river. You can't really see it in this pic but there is a waterfall behind there, one of many along the way.
 The next part of Fijian holiday was at  beautiful Mana island which is part of the Mamanuca group of islands. The photo above is taken from the catamaran we traveled on to the island.
 Mana island is the one in the distance. We spent 6 lovely nights here. I liked it much more than our stay at the Warwick resort. The food was nicer, the people nicer, atmosphere etc. If I return to Fiji I would chose here again as a destination. Not as posh as the Warwick but I liked it better. One of the staff told me about an old lady in her 80's that had been back twice a year for the full 40 years that the resort had been operating. The temperature was around 30 C but in the the summer it gets to 39c. Summer is wet season and cyclone season.
 The first thing that struck me here was the color. Perfect blues and the oh so unreal blue greens and turquoise of the water,emerald green vegetation and silky white sand surrounding us was just breath taking.
At Mana island we stayed in a free standing bure in the middle of the island. There was no T.V or radio and I didn't miss it one little bit. Though I must confess I took my tablet to read books and my MP3 player to listen to.
The island was serviced by a water desalination plant, We were warned that we should boil the water and that we might be best to take bottled water with us but, honestly, I have tasted worse water traveling around Australia to different towns. I couldn't see a problem with their water taste wise. Bottled water is available from the shop but is costly.
The bure we had has a thatched roof and exposed rafters inside, which is how many other fijian buildings that we saw seem to be built. Our bure had a stone half circle built onto the outside in which was enclosed an outdoor, open air shower. I thought I might be a bit uncomfortable with showering in the open air, but it was no problem, quite a novelty, except for the leaves from the tree above sticking to my feet and walking inside. We took our own tea and coffee.
Pic above is of South beach, pic below is North beach. Just look at that colour.

Below.... this is my spot.  Nothing better than laying in one of these hammocks reading and looking at the coconut trees swaying above you. Heavenly.  This hammock was a bit low to the ground but I found another that was higher to laze in.

Yes this is a red flower...you were right, hahaha. It is Fiji's winter at the moment so the flowers are not as numerous as they would be at different times of course. I didn't bother taking pics of the bougainvillea of the franjipani, everyone knows what they look like.
We did a circuit of the island on foot. This is the view from the lookout that overlooks south beach. The island has an airstrip up this end, we walked around it on the way to the lookout. The mozzies live up there in the bush too, they had a lovely feed of me, they were very friendly hahaha. Up near the lookout there were trees with dozens of tiny skinks running over them. Some of the larger skinks had bright blue iridescent tails.
Other tiny lizards, Geckos were making their funny little barking calls at night in the rafters of out Bure. They are so tiny and beautifully delicate, how can they make such a loud noise? Other wildlife on the island that I saw included doves, fruit bats, parrot finches, a beautiful bright emerald green with a red beak,red patch on their heads and above their tails where their wings cross over. I was also fascinated by the Bulbuls, they are Fiji's national bird, we watched a couple of them waiting for crumbs at the restaurant on south beach one afternoon. There were also some sea birds and herons, I saw black ones, grey ones and white ones, not all of them on Mana island though. As well as, in both places we stayed, were the introduced pesky nasty little Indian myna birds.

The pic above is also taken from the top of the lookout.South beach in the distance.
This old boat was sitting just at the top of north beach near the staff village.I liked the way rain water was pooled in the bottom and plants were growing  inside it.
Mana island has quite a few water activities available to play with. There is para-sailing. Semi submersible trips to view the coal reef that surrounds the island. Sailing ship trips, jet skis, kayaks, scuba diving and snorkeling, 2 swimming pools, a day spa. The yellow boat you can just see in the above photo was cool,the semi submersible, we went for a ride in it. The reef is full of tiny bright fish that you would otherwise only see in an aquarium. All colours shapes and sizes. The reef here is protected and part of a marine sanctuary. Coral planting has been carried out in recent years to regrow damage done by pollution, global warming tourism etc. They also have a program running to protect and record rare sea turtle egg laying and hatching on the island. Leather back turtles and green turtles live in the area.
This is a weird rock formation on one end of north beach. The islands are volcanic, I think this was basalt. Also laying on the beaches here was the volcanic rock, I think it is called tuff, it is like aerated stone  and sold in hardware shops here as barbeque rock. When we walked around the island a sweet little girl from the village,(about 9 yrs old I am guessing) guided us back along the path through here to the resort, she was so cute. Years ago I have scrambled around areas like this no problems, now I find it quite challenging to my old legs and tender feet, I must be getting old.
On one end of south beach there is another village and a pack packers area. (above pic) We walked around there too.On this walk we followed a path that went up over the hills and to the other side of the island. Along the way there was vegetable gardens amongst the greenery, banana trees, papaya, cassava and taro planted around. It seemed to me that there was a lot of subsistence type agriculture on the islands and also along the river that we toured up on the main island. The locals are quite poor and supplement their diet with home gardening. They told us that their cassava is the same as our potatoes, a food staple. Cassava is made into tapioca.
The resorts we stayed at had buffet type meals with theme nights.I paid for our meals before we got there so that made meal times much easier.It worked out as $50 australian each, for 3 meals a day. At the fijian theme nights I enjoyed trying different foods, I especially liked the smoky tasting taro. They cook in earth oven called lovo. The fire is lit inside a hole in the ground, let burn down to charcoal and ashes then lined with leaves, food placed inside, then covered with mats and more ashes and left to cook.
Entertainment was held in the main building each night at the resort. The resort band was nice and the highlight of the nights were the children (tourists) dancing and little boys trying to catch and jump on the disco lights, hahaha. One of the girls singing had a great voice. One night we went and looked at the board to see what was on and it said surprise . So we rocked up to see what it was. It was a surprise. Nobody came to entertain us, hahaha. All in good fun though. The night we left there was a bonfire on the beach. That was cool. The activities bloke had us divided into groups, there were New Zealanders, Aussies and a group of Americans and they had races on the beach, the Aussies won of course, mostly because we outnumbered the other groups by about 3 to 1, hahaha..

The next pic was taken at the Fijian Bure on Mana island where they have activities and crafts. An old lady with the hat and the goofy smile, I wonder who she is? While I was there the craft activities included, weaving fans and hats, making a broom and hunting, husking, drinking and making ice cream from coconuts.
These goats were on the beach in the village near the back packers area on south beach, I am guessing for their milk.
When we walked around the island up this end, we came across another small very exclusive, expensive looking resort, over 18s only....oh I bet it cost a pretty penny to stay there.
The pic above was taken from the windows of the semi submersible craft we had a ride on. The pic doesn't do the reef and tiny fish justice of course. Ssshhhh, don't tell anyone... but that old lady with the goofy smile fell off the semi submersible craft onto the platform when she came back after the ride,she got her toe caught on the edge of the boat and was most embarrassed. hehehe, shhhh. And the silly old chook also fell out of her kayak, despite having one of her own at home. Hahah, watch her ride this kayak!
The kayak was very hard to steer but worth the trouble because we could row out to and sit above the reef, because the water was quite clear, we could watch the tiny brightly coloured fish flitting in and out of the coral.
The next 2 photos are taken from the lookout above north beach on Mama island at sunset. The beach below is called sunset beach. Amongst those islands you can see in the distance is the island where the film "Castaway" with Tom Hanks was filmed. Because my sunglasses were missing, I bought a cheap pair of glasses, all they did was filter out all the yellow so they were not much use, anyway...... I took the second photo of these 2 sunset pics through the lens of the sunglasses and you can see how it filtered out almost all the yellow.
The guys below were singing to us as we were waiting for the boat to come to leave the island.
The boat below is the Seaspray. It takes people out on day trips and to a nearby uninhabited island on day trips. I should have done that, maybe I could have fallen off a third boat. Hehehe. Oh isn't that colour wonderful!
Pic below is of the same sunset, taken a bit earlier in the evening.
Th day we left, we had a few hours to kill before our flight so we caught a taxi into the center of Nadi to buy presents to take home for our family. Nadi a town of 40.000 people, so comparable in size to my home town of Wagga. The CBD was very busy, the road rules in Fiji are the same as Australian road rules but oh boy, I don't think they worry too much about obeying them, hahaha. In Nadi I didn't like the way many of the shop keepers tried to hassle us into their shops and sell us stuff. It made me uncomfortable, stubborn, not wanting to be bossed around by them and less eager to enter the shop instead of what they had intended.
 So my travel to a tropical island idea was satisfied. Then I came home again to mid winter. It was actually quite nice to feel the cold air on my face again when we returned to Canberra.
 Would I do it all again?
You Bet Ya!
That's all .
Love Linda.