From Melbourne to Sydney


One often says of oneself as a child, this is where I grew up.  But to me, at least, one doesn’t realise that one has grown up until one leaves that place and returns.
Yes I grew up in Canowindra (New South Wales). I grew up too in Kiama (New South Wales). And then Canberra and Brisbane (although I will never make it as a Queenslander!). And now that I have returned to Sydney that I realised I had grown up some more in Melbourne. And for that much like Mary Queen of Scots feels towards Calais I will be forever grateful.  For Melbourne will be forever in my heart.
That’s not to say I have lessons to be learned. I’ve learnt about the love and honesty (sometimes searingly so) of family and the support whether near or far of friends. I’ve learnt about friendship found false and true. I’ve learnt more about my own heart. I’ve learnt about resilience and faith. I’ve learnt how true it is that the universe both conspires to hinder you at every turn and consummate your hidden wishes once you turn towards it.
The last year or so has been difficult, financially, career wise, mentally and spiritually. Yet in the midst of those not so good times there was joy to be found, comfort within myself and people around me ultimately leading to a path of hope. The secret for me at least was to find out what was most important to me and step by step (in fact fingernail hold by fingernail hold) move towards it everyday. And in doing so, I had to be prepared to lose everything to gain that hope. For faith isn’t mere belief or suspended disbelief: it’s progress towards an unseen goal with absolute certainty that it’s the correct course with absolutely no certainty that it will happen.
But in the past four or so weeks I’ve seen my close family again, changed jobs, moved house, gained a glimpse of a new direction professionally and continued a current direction personally.  But I still have much to learn and still so far to journey.

The Best of Enemies : Movie Review

It’s 1968 and America is in turmoil. Martin Luther King has been shot, riots have broken out across the country, the Vietnam War is faltering, Robert Kennedy has been assassinated and Richard Nixon is campaigning for President.

The American Broadcasting Corporation also has its troubles. As the third (or fourth) network of three, it is struggling. As one pundit says, “If the ABC fought the Vietnam War, it would be cancelled in 13 weeks.”

To improve their ratings during the two political presidential conventions, they come up with an idea that will change TV forever. That idea is to put together William F Buckley, arch-conservative interviewer and writer with Gore Vidal,  the Oscar Wilde like enfant terrible of the political and literary scene as convention commentators.

There’s one small problem. Both men loath and detest each other.  Yet despite their earlier clashes, they agree to work with each other for the ten days covering both conventions.

This is the basis for the documentary, Best of Enemies

which covers the debates between Vidal and Buckley. Both men had clashed before but this was the first time they would be withing arm’s length of each other. And what results is electrifying and ultimately disappointing.

Two intellectual giants trade brilliant put downs and swap clever put downs. But at no time is there any meeting of minds. In fact the debate created an unbroken animosity between the two men.

Best of Enemies, showing at the Cinema Nova, Melbourne is fascinating : a super sugar hit for a political junkie with an unfortunate climb down. Scarily, the commentary offered on the politics of the day still is relevant now, despite the change in word and phrase as well as manners over the years.  Sadly, too, the dynamic of pitting two protagonists, neither of whom will listen to the other, is now the basis of present media political commentary.  Finally, this dynamic has resulted in a fragmentation of media coverage (both mainstream and new).  As  Nick Davies has pointed out, the media no longer provides multiple points of view for multiple audiences, it now provides what people want to hear. Which began with Vidal versus Buckley.

Best of Enemies is an enjoyable, extremely well put together but ultimately dis quietening documentary.




Welcome Back to Melbourne

Another overheard conversation…
This time I’m on the Port Melbourne tram heading into Melbourne. It’s full of people who have just gotten off the latest cruise ship.
Opposite me is an older couple, bags in tow. The gentleman opposite them strikes up a conversation. My first impression is that he must be trainer. Immediately he has the great ability to put people at ease. As he is about to find out!
So the conversation begins.
“Welcome to Melbourne!”
The lady replies, “It’s great to be back.”
He replies, “You used to live here? And you’ve just returned?”
She returns, “Oh no, we’ve lived here for years. We’re just back for the day.”
Then the quiet male half of the couple chimes in, “We’ve just come back to do our washing!”
Of course!

Walk By The Water

As a child, I lived in Kiama New South Wales, a small town by the sea. Kiama BlowholeOccasionally walking to school,during the summer king tides,  I would see the world famous Blowhole in action. Waves would break high and wide, the spray would envelop  the lighthouse like smoke around a candle.

Similarly, while living at New Farm in Brisbane, I would take the long walk to work. First I would sidle down to the ferry terminal at New Farm Park, and take the ferry to work. Each trip the Brisbane River was different.

When I arrived at work, I felt renewed and refreshed.

Having moved to Melbourne, walking by the water is an experience I have revisited. I live at Port Melbourne and occasionally walk to work via the esplanade.

It still changes my whole day. Some days the sea is frosted sky blue glass. I feel like stopping and skipping stones. Other times the sea is a green blue wave concrete mixer topped by white crested waves. I stop and set aside the idea of a swim. Other times its a blue skin like parchment. I stop and think about growing old.

All I’ve done is look for something new in a dull and boring world. Most times I find it.

But still there’s something missing here. Why do I love walking by the water?

One clue is that when I hear that phrase, I immediately think of the sublime Eva Cassidy singing Wade in the Water.

But it wasn’t until the other night, that the next clue completed the jigsaw. I now realise why I love walking by the water.

This night was hot and perfectly still. And though a reasonable distance from the water I heard it. The waves.

And it brought back memories of an earlier time.  Where even though I was even more distant from the sea, I heard it too. The ebb and flow of the waves in the far distance quietly lulling me and calming me, renewing and refreshing me.

The next time I walked by the water, I really heard the waves.

Serendipity of Co Working

Co WorkingJust a few weeks ago, on a whim and a prayer (I’ve always wanted to write that), I decided to attend another Third Place meetup.

Third Place is a meetup for L&D professionals in cities across Australia.

This particular meetup was to explore a new co-working space Queens Collective in Queen Street  Melbourne.

Despite being a little late, I found the Queens Collective easily. The venue itself was pleasant offices and meeting rooms upstairs, open working areas, meeting rooms and a kitchen with several coffee machines. And wi-fi (of course!) and fibre internet (Ok I’ll take that too!). And near two coffee shops and cafes.

Once the tour was over we settled down to co-working. Today I thought I would be seen and not heard. But that was only for a moment.

The two people opposite me were working on a presentation about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and had some questions. It took a little while for me to realise that I could actually help them. I remembered that I had used a MOOC for studying a degree. I had graduated from passive onlooker to something of a helpful subject matter expert.

Later on I realised that this had happened before when I was co-working. Ask me a question and I’ll help you if I know.

Call it serendipidity if you like but it’s the helping people that’s the fun thing!



Here Kitty Kitty Kitty (How I Got My Cat Mojo Back)

I’m not a cat person. And here are the sure-fire symptoms.  I’m not the one walking down the street like the pied piper having cats follow me.

When I walk up to cats and say hello they don’t say hello back. Quite the opposite. Tiger yawning

So it was with some reluctance that I let myself be talked into going to the Cat Cafe Melbourne. At that time, I thought it would be nice for my son to see something different about Melbourne. I didn’t think it would turn out for me at all.

The Cat Cafe. The name says it all : a place for coffee and a place where cats roam free.

We called ahead and booked for the late evening just for an hour.

We appeared at the appointed time.

Downstairs the Cat Cafe looks like a combined pet shop and cafe.

We went down the back and announced ourselves. I paid the money. Then we had to read the rules. Having had cats as pets before there were almost no surprises. Except for the ban on flash photography. I knew that. Having had cats I knew that no cat put up its paw when you went searching for them with a torch.

At the appointed hour a group of us were ushered upstairs to meet the cats. As it was late evening it was almost closing time for the resident cats. Surprisingly for a bunch of sleepy felines, there were no prima donna antics from them at all. They were serenity itself.

I didn’t go near them. Remember I’m not a cat person. My son showed no hesitation at all. Straight away he went over to the first cat. he introduced himself. He patted her head.

Only much later I realised we both had the same gap in cat years. When I moved and then  he and the rest of the family moved out one cat was let behind. There’s been no cat since.

Watching him with these cats brings to mind my recent cat encounter. There’s a cat who lives round the corner. A friendly one. When I walk past he goes out of his way to say hello. He would jump up on the fence and say hello. A quick pat and I was on my way.

When I remembered him, it all came flooding back. He's just around the corner

I still didn’t think I was a cat person.But as was said to me, it depends on the cat.

And the ones at the Cat Cafe reminded me of my favourites.

First was Benny who was a little kitten when we got him. I would pick him up and he would literally twirl himself around my arm like silk. Not long after that he would start purring. He was friendly and affectionate and quite personable. His favourite party trick was letting himself in to the house by opening the screen door. He would climb the door, jump onto the handle and pull it down. The door would swing out and open. He jumped to the ground and sidled in as if it was perfectly normal. Sadly one day he disappeared.  He was either catnapped being too friendly or worse.

But the original family cat was Whisky. She was a beautiful tortoiseshell cat. She who was born under the house we were living at the time. She was the only one of the litter who was kept. I don’t know what happened. As a child I came home and we went from four cats to one.

In time, she became the family cat and lived a long and affectionate life. She also was the only animal that seemed to like me. She would sleep on my bed of a night. She would come into my room and soften up my blankets by pushing her paws down. Sometimes she would get her claws out push down too hard and wake me up.

Remembering all that. I reached out to the cats. Nearly all were sleepy or fast asleep. A gentle touch was all that was required. To see a cat stir slightly before falling asleep after relaxing at your touch was quite therapeutic.

I wandered around the different rooms. Most of the cats were asleep and one had curled up in the top of a cat tree and couldn’t be easily found. I peeked in on him, smiled and marvelled to myself at his cleverness. Then I left him undisturbed.

I went into the last room. A cat was in a basket half deciding whether to go to sleep or to watch the fish on the TV screen. I sat with him and watched him peacefully drift off to sleep.

An hour had passed seeming like a few minutes. I think I might just be a cat person after all. But as said to me, I think it still depends on the cats.




A Tropical Storm In Melbourne?



I’m woken by a small flash of light. It’s off to my right.


Is it from my bedside table? It could be my phone.


I’m half-awake now. My next thought is that flash was too long to be my phone.

Perhaps it was car’s headlight through the window? It seemed more like a spot light or a torch light than a car light. Besides it’s the wrong colour for a car. My next thought is that it’s pure white light. Uh-oh!
By then I’ve started counting off the seconds. I get to six.
Boom! The windows rattle. The roof shudders. The echo wends its way outside the house. It doesn’t enter. Then silence.
Another flash. I’m awake now. I count off the seconds again. Less this time. Another crash and boom. It’s getting closer.
It occurs to me that in a war-torn country I’d be running for shelter. I don’t. I wait and the silence repeats itself.
Just a moment! Where’s the rain? No drizzle or droplet or slap of rain on the wall outside.
Lightning Strike

Lightning strike

 From then on its a light show! The thunder is now a proper musical accompaniment. Sounds seem to spin and  rotate through the air and collide with each other.
 Finally there’s the sound of a heavy tear drop. The rain! Droplets slap the walls and windows and speckle the  glass. A torrent at last!
 Wait a minute. A tropical storm in Melbourne? See this video.
 Yeah the video isn’t bad. But not so long ago. I’m standing at the bottom of a valley. It’s dark. The storm clouds  arrive in seconds. Then the lightning and thunder.
 Next I feel like somebody has thrown a bucket of water over me. Too late to get dry. Then another.
I look up and around me. I’m surrounded by lightning strikes. All around the valley. A perfect circular thunderstorm. And the thunder!
Lightning 2 of 3
It’s so loud it echoes against itself.

Now that’s a tropical storm!

Environment Victoria BreakThrough : A New Era of Climate Activism

Presented by the Sustainable Living Foundation, the National Centre for Climate Restoration BreakThrough 2014 October forum had a surprising thread of hope and optimism.

So often climate change events have an overriding pessimism and a sense of acting against forces beyond our control (political, economic as well as the environment).

Perhaps they took the view that optimism is that path taken once pessimism is exhausted.

The first speaker was David Spratt author of Climate Code Red who talked about dangerous climate change.

He made several major points:

  1. Climate science research is firstly out-of-date by the time it is received by the IPCC.
  2. 2 degrees of warming is no margin of safety.
  3. The carbon budget is spent.

The second speaker was Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International who injected the note of optimism. He took the view that ultimately the complex economic system will adapt to the environment through markets and regulation. He did note that the changes would be disruptive and compared it to a war effort (as did David Spratt) and gave the example of the unexpected success of the world-wide adoption of solar power as well as the collapsing coal market. He took the view that even reducing emissions to zero (as advocated by Beyond Zero Emissions) was not impossible.

The final speaker was Mark Wakeham, CEO of Environment Victoria who continued the optimism whilst advocating a strategic approach. He talked about the power of energy efficiency and reduced power consumption to create climate change mitigation and the power of individual and community advocacy.

All in all a night of optimism. But much needs to be done.


This Prerecorded Message is Having Mood Swings


I live in Melbourne and use public transport. Which means I am exposed to a female voice (I think it’s the same voice) announcing the next stop or train/bus route.

I’m sure most people take no notice. Or they find it annoying and ignore it. Not me. I become emotionally involved.

My mind tells me the announcements are words that were pre-recorded and then spliced together. But I cannot help but really try to listen to the person behind the voice.

And I step off the bus or train feeling quite confused. It sounds like multiple mood swings all spoken in the same sentence.

There’s first a sense of relief and then its another day in the office when she tells me that the train is terminating at Glen Waverley. There’s an initial sense of authority and then despondency when I’m told that this is a Watergardens train. And I want to tell her that it will be alright. Don’t worry. It will be fine. Just hang in there for the rest of the day.

But one day it all came together. This time all through the bus trip, each cross street is being announced. This time the tone is much the same. And then at the end the final destination. This bus terminates at Blackburn Station.

It was the last trip and last destination recorded before she goes on holidays! And she had packed and her flights were ready to go! I really felt happy for her!

Dining With Strangers (Eat With Me Melbourne)

It’s not speed dating! And it’s not dinner for five! It’s Eat With Me’s Dining With Strangers! Eat With Me

For a small cost, I received one drink, two meal courses and way more than three introductions. All at The Sharing House South Wharf Melbourne.

As it turned out, I almost turned up sopping wet. But I made it. Upon entering the restaurant I was ushered to   the Eat With Me group. A drink was handed to me. Then I was welcomed by Bethany and Liisa (the organisers of Eat With Me) who to their eternal credit remembered me from the July 2011 event! Dining with strangers indeed!!

Lego took the original lego brick and magnifie...

To find our place at the table, we were all given a present. The present unwrapped turned out to be a piece of Lego which matched our seat at the table. After almost mixing lime green and dark green I found my place (amongst the writers’ section).

First course was chickpea chips and tomato sauce which was unique and tasty! The conversation continued. On my leftwas a public relations consultant who worked in tourism, television and film. From her I received some sage advice about my love life! Opposite her a magician and comedian. Next to me was Chelsea who also was a writer, blogger and involved in Eat With Me. When she said she was from British Columbia I said Victoria instead of Vancouver!! And got it right!!

What I forgot to mention was the centrepiece or conversation starter in the middle of the table! Two Duplo and one normal Lego bricks, photo ta...

Duplo shapes with words stuck on them to encourage the writers in us. Funnily enough the writers corner stuck with the words and tried to create something rather than dismantling the shape and creating something completely new!

The next course was Beef Wellington and a beautiful beetroot and walnut salad. No one to the left or right or opposite me had had it before except me (and it was a bucks’ night so my memory wasn’t sound). Beautiful!

As the conversation continued, I met a fabric designer and an intern.

Then came the negotiation part of the evening! Dessert! Strawberries, meringue, cream or chocolate mousse, ice cream, salted caramel. It was all divided equally and there was much left over. And now I know I will eat through chocolate to reach salted caramel!!

And the conversation continued! It was relaxed just like a laid back dinner party with friends and friends of friends! Thoroughly recommended and commended!!