Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Dialogue in the Dark

A different idea for lunchtime today (and not on this years list, so a bonus).  Elizabeth and I headed off to Harbour Town (Docklands) and gave Dialogue in the Dark a go. The concept was developed in Germany back in 1988 and has since grown to being "shown" in 42 countries with Melbourne starting up this month.

So what is it?  Well it's a unique experience that aims to raise awareness for those living with blindness and also creates employment opportunities. Arrived knowing that we would be walking around in the dark, but with no real idea of what to expect.  For a start, it's all indoors and safe - no real danger of running into a door and breaking your nose (unless you were really clumsy, but then that could happen in the light as well).

We were each (there were 4 of us in our group) given a white cane, warned to not wave it around too vigorously (shin whacks to be avoided) and led into the dark where we were introduced to our lovely guide Beth.   And off we went, visiting a "park" and various other Melbourne iconic spots (won't give it away).  At first you just want to hang on to the handrail, and your eyes are straining to see (it really is pitch black) but after a few minutes, it becomes easy enough to let go and feel your way around. 

The surprising thing is that you do start to listen to background noises and quickly work out voices and where people are.  If you're claustrophobic or don't like bumping into strangers (no groping now), then it might not be your thing, but I found it interesting.  By feel we were able to pick out all sorts including fruit and veggies as well as ordinary things found around Melbourne.  No nasty surprises. 

Beth took us back to her "apartment" and I could swear there was the smell of baking, but apparently no it's just the senses playing suggestive tricks on us!  We then just sat and chatted and she was happy to answer our questions about her blindness (she actually has a small amount vision) and what it's like living with vision impairment. 

It's a humbling experience and certainly makes you appreciate sight and that we sometimes take our senses for granted.  Is it worth doing? Absolutely, it helps to break down barriers in a fun and friendly way. 

Oh yes, one thing I wanted to know, should you offer help?  Would it offend a vision impaired person? Beth advised that sure, there is nothing wrong with going up to anyone and asking if they need help.  She did say, please don't grab them by the arm (or any body part for that matter) though, without speaking first! She got a shock when someone grabbed her suddenly as she was boarding a tram to help her off, that she slipped and broke her ankle.   The guy's response, "you wouldn't have slipped if you'd asked for help!"

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Dog's Purpose - part 2

Never did find out how or why the free tickets to go and see "A Dog's Purpose" arrived a few days after losing my bubba Lucas.  Finally went and saw it today.  Didn't get great reviews, but we really enjoyed it and yes, we balled our eyes out.  OK, so Bailey is a sweet golden retriever, but he still reminded us of Lucas and the special bond that we have with our beloved fur-babies. 

Did Lucas have a purpose?  He sure did.  He brought us joy, happiness, love, laughter and tears.  Dogs remind us to live for today, to live in the moment, to run and play and lick the ones you love.  Because life is short and one day, they're gone. 

As the films flyer says "Every dog happens for a purpose" although our free tickets card had the words "Some pets stay with you forever". Another mystery that can stay that way.

So this afternoon, with the sun shining we decided that the housework could most definitely wait and that taking Lola to the beach to watch the sunset was far more important. 

And it was.

Have burgers had their day in the sun?  Fried chicken has always been around, but seems to be trying to muscle in on the action as the next big thing.  Gami chicken has been around for a while, but one has just opened in Southland and I've been wanting to try it for a while.  Delish, but there will always be room for a good burger!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The ANZ Gothic Bank

A sunny Friday lunchtime in June.  Nothing much on and fancied a walk so took a look at the list for a bit of inspiration and headed out to visit the ANZ Banking Museum.  Now I've walked past this building on the corner of Queen Street and Collins Street many times and thought to myself it's a beautiful old building, but haven't given it much thought and had never been inside. Time to remedy that.
The ANZ Gothic Bank as it's called (yes really) is made up of two buildings. The former English, Scottish and Australian (ES&A) Bank on the corner and the former Melbourne Stock Exchange.  In 1923 the two buildings were renovated and combined, and became known as the 'Gothic Bank.' Love it. They've since been restored as ANZ World Headquarters. 
So, down the stairs to the slightly tacky ANZ Banking Museum (free).  Old money boxes, a few old adding machines and a bit of money history.  Not that exciting, but the lovely attendant down there (who was looking rather thrilled to have someone visiting) came over for a chat. 
Good thing, because I hadn't thought to actually go into the buildings themselves.
Does your bank branch have ceilings like these
The ground floor is open to the public as it is a functioning branch of the ANZ .  Gorgeous iron columns, wooden benches and beautifully painted ceilings. Really rather special. 

Then into the Cathedral Room in the former Stock Exchange building and wow!  It was originally the main trading room of the Stock Exchange, with six granite columns, carved arched ceilings a  beautiful stained glass window and gorgeous floor tiles.  Not sure if it is used for anything these days as it's empty, but if you've never stuck your
The stunning Cathedral Room
head in for a look - it is well worth it.  
A pleasant way to spend a lunchtime, beats sitting at your desk and a tick off the list!   Happy Days.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Expat Life

You’ve retired. The kids have all left home and you’re sitting inside on a cold, wet winter’s day. All of a sudden memories of swaying palm trees, sunny days by the pool with a cocktail in hand spring to mind. Let’s face it, who hasn’t been somewhere on holiday and daydreamed about what it would be like to sell up, pack up and live overseas?

Warmer climates, a relaxed lifestyle, a lower cost of living and more bang for your buck are some of the reason retirees are choosing the expat lifestyle and moving overseas. However, the decision should not be taken lightly and no matter how attractive that luxurious beach side villa looks, financial reasons should not be the only deciding factor. 

If you don’t have a real desire to experience another culture, a good sense of humour, the ability to fit in and learn new ways and a lot of patience, your dream life, no matter how “cheap” that bungalow cost, may turn into a nightmare.

So what are the most popular destinations for Australian’s and how do you choose which country is right for you? There would certainly appear to be a bias towards our nearest neighbors, Asia. Memories of previous overseas trips, the relatively close proximity to family and friends, warm weather and a cheaper cost of living are certainly attractive to many wanting to live the permanent holiday dream.

For others it’s a call to return to the “home country.” This home country may not even be your own, but of your ancestors and the attraction is still there.

So where to start? Below is a list of places that you may have on your bucket list to consider and are a good place to start your considerations.

Indonesia – In particular Bali
With an already strong expat community, its relative proximity to Australia, fabulous food and a warm tropical climate – what’s not to love?

Another expat hotspot, Thailand offers a wide range of exotic options from big bustling cities, to relaxed island life or the cooler mountainous north. Plenty of activities available, warm and friendly locals and cheap to live. 

A destination offering everything from its busy capital Kuala Lumpur, to lush tropical islands and even mist enshrouded rainforests. As a former British colony, English is widely spoken and this is another inexpensive place to live.

Cheap prices on everything, amazing food and culture and a warm tropical climate have made Vietnam a fast rising popular choice for Australians looking to retire on a budget. 

With life in the Philippines all about family values and so many Filipinos living in Australia, it’s no surprise that many choose to return to this country, of beautiful beaches, great water activities and lower cost of living.  

New Zealand
Near and yet far enough. Similar, but different. New Zealand is proving to be a popular and easy choice for Australians. Just try watching Lord of the Rings and not be swept away by the stunning landscapes. And they wear jandals – that’s thongs to you and I.

Spain, France and Italy
The plethora of books available on living la vida loca, la dolce vita and la belle vie have long attracted retirees to small villages throughout these Mediterranean countries. With beautiful beaches, good health care, a temperate climate and glorious food, it is easy to see the appeal. Although not as cheap as many of the other options, there are still housing bargains to be had away from the populated coast and large cities and the rural grow your own lifestyle certainly evokes a romantic image of bliss.

Where would you choose? What criteria would be the most important? And most importantly, how many pairs of bathers will you need?

Sunday, 4 June 2017

1984 - A (not very good) Review

OK, so read 20 "classic books" is on the list and it is a struggle. I'll admit I struggle to get in to "old" books.  1984 by George Orwell published in 1949 is not on the list, but is a book I read at school.  Did I enjoy it?  I can't remember - give me a break, that was 35 years ago.   It's about a dystopian society (a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. - thank you dictionary.com, my definition would have been a dysfunctional oppressed society) that is at war and its people are controlled politically by "English Socialism".  Independent thinking is a big no-no and the thought police will come and get you.  And then there is all seeing Big Brother, only interested in control and power.

Main character is Winston whose job is to rewrite history and secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother and falls in love with Julia. Blah, blah blah.

Anyway, it's considered a classic and I thought, ok, let's get cultural and go see the play.  Confession, being at the comedy theatre, I thought maybe it might have been "re-done" and a bit funny.  Yeah OK, call me an idiot for not reading the reviews.  Comedy is not a word I would use and neither is musical. But I got cheap tickets and see 3 shows is on the list.

So what was it like?  Loud. Very loud.  Strange use of sound and lighting - bit frightening really.  The story pretty much follows the original, with a few modern twists thrown in that do make you stop and think "is this where we are heading?"  In fact, after Trump was elected, apparently sales of the book rose.  The first half is slow, the second is gruesome as Winston is tortured by the Ministry of Love.   Did we enjoy it?  No, not really. 101 minutes I won't be getting back.  If there had been an intermission, we wouldn't have gone back in.  That and the fact that we were sitting in the front row and felt a bit bad getting up and leaving.

Was it better than Cats, my previous least favourite show?  Maybe, but we didn't stick around to see the end of that one and I was hugely disappointed.

Lesson learnt - stick to my favourite light, funny musicals.  Oh and maybe check the reviews - although they were pretty good, so maybe it was just us.  Maybe we need to go and see Book of Mormon again - more our style. Go to the theatre 3 times in 2017 - tick.