Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

ebonynivoryMy niece’s extended family members – Ebony and Ivory – yes, they do live together in perfect harmony, as the song goes.

Mail Boat Ride on Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest lagoon (42 sq miles) and is of irregular shape. On its banks are nature reserves and bird sanctuaries, sailing and yacht clubs, holiday resorts and residents with some areas inaccessible by road. So there exists a postal system that’s quite unusual. A truck as a mobile office and a boat as the delivery vehicle.

The mobile post office on a truck.

The mobile post office on a truck.

Snail mail and parcels unloaded from the truck ready to go on the mail-boat.


1st stop of the mail-boat and items are handed to the “village” postal worker.


1st batch off the mail-boat

As we chugged on the lake, I noticed that apart from hills and old trees there were ample very large rocks scattered on the banks. Most have been shaped by wind and water into very beautiful (almost) sculpture-like pieces of art.


Beautiful rock formation & texture revealed by natural erosion.

Another stop but this time the boat-postman had to go ashore to place his mailbag in locked box and also collect a bag of outgoing mail.


Deliver and collect at this stop.

Off we went to the next postal outlet with the beautiful Australian flag just blowing in the wind. The residents in the houses there will probably be heading down to collect their mail soon.


Flag on the mail-boat.


Large collection from this mail-outlet.

As Lake Macquarie is connected to the Tasman Sea, it is actually a salt water lagoon/lake so fish and seafood (similar to those out at sea) catching activity is aplenty.


A prawn (shrimp) boat whose owner said he had a good catch that morning.

The lakeside houses are simply awesome. Residents may not have snail mail delivered by road but they sure live in excellent, tranquil surroundings close to Mother Nature.



I wouldn’t mind living in one of these houses … but they’re just too expensive for poor me.




Vineyards “Downunder” (Australia)

“How can we not go wine tasting?!” asked my sister-in-law. Hey, how can I say no to that? So, off we went on a tasting spree and the one I liked most was Tyrrell’s, (read their history) a fascinating family owned vineyard & winery.


Mountains, trees and thousands of grapevines.

It’s now early Spring. The air is cool but not chilly. Tree leaves have sprouted; they’re thickening and turning darker green. The grapevines (lots of them older than me, mind you) have sprung to life and from their thick stems, which are like woody trunks, fresh growth have appeared.


These old vines really remind me of Bonsai.

One of the reasons, I think, why I was brought to vineyards was more than wine tasting. It was also to allow me to see the the level of maturity they can get to and the stages of grapes’ growth in Spring.


Little grapes in formation.

This has given me hope … though I only have 12 grape plants growing and they are only 3 years old. Lots of waiting, caring and talking to my young ones will be needed, I guess.


It all began in this little wooden hut of an English immigrant, Mr. Edward Tyrrell

It began in 1858 and now with the 5th generation in charge, the vineyard and winery has grown and produce award winning wines and some even exported globally. (& no, this is not an advertisement.)   Continue reading

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2016 Week 41

My small contribution to Cee’s Oddball Challenge, Week 41. This photo was taken last week in Hunter Valley, the wine region of Australia.


Aussie Pie Floater (of sort)

When in Australia and coming face to face with a real Aussie “food cart” how can I not try an Aussie Pie Floater? Right? Originating in Adelaide this was commonly sold on pie-carts… in the old days, horse drawn!

It is the strangest pie I have ever seen. With in-laws from Adelaide, I have heard of it but have not seen it on earlier trips to Australia so this was, to me, a must-try item.

Harry’s Café de Wheels in Newcastle (which we found by accident) had it, so it was a pie for lunch.

Harry's Cart

Harry’s Cart

Sounds different, doesn't it?

Sounds different, doesn’t it?

Originally it was pie-on-peas but I got mine in the peas-on-pie format. I humbly conclude that when it enters the mouth, the taste bud will not be able to tell the difference. My taste bud told my brain it was yummy.

Very, very thick pea mush on pie.

Very, very thick pea mush on pie.

Topped with sauces (which I did not ask what kind).

Topped with sauces (which I did not ask what kind).

I can also affirm that this combo is super filling to the stomach so size does not matter (at all). As I looked at lots of photos on the cart’s wall I picked to share 2 on this blog as most will have heard of them.

Elton John & Brooke Shields ate here too.

Elton John & Brooke Shields ate here too.

So how can it bad, eh?

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

We left home and headed for Singapore and the land Downunder (Australia) for our vacation. Well, we indulged on Food (glorious Food) in Singapore and then made it to Sydney.

Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport

Caught the airport train and then found our way to the right platform to hop on Opal to Newcastle …

The airport train to Central Station.

The airport train to Central Station.

Excellent sunny start of Spring.

Our view of the gorgeous Lake MacQuarie

Our view of the gorgeous Lake MacQuarie from in-law’s patio

So while all around us is super, we should be enjoying ourselves 100%, right? No, unfortunately Hurricane Matthew is giving us a niggling brain-hiccup!

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew

We boarded up, we prepared our house’s surroundings as best we could but the bees, the plants … am I worried? Y’betcha!😦


Is Traditional Chinese Medicine heading West?

Cupping – a form of ancient Chinese therapy has been made famous in Western culture by Olympic swimmers (especially champion Michael Phelps) this year. My grandma used to call it “bamboo sucking” as she had her own bamboo contraption to use and we grandkids were her (unpaid) therapy assistants of sort. We learned how to heat the air in bamboo tubular “cups” then place them where she wanted – on her shoulders and back.

My cup marks

My cup marks

I have always been a believer of this (often debated) method of treatment. Records have been found in China regarding its practice since 280AD and similar cupping in Egypt since 1550BC so let the debates continue. To put forth its pro’s and con’s is beyond me but I do know that this method of gently activating capillary stagnation and soothing muscle knots work for me.

When back in Singapore, a traditional Chinese muscle and joint accupressure/”cupping” session is almost like a spa treatment for me. This time though, with a slightly aching pulled muscle from jogging, I was given an adhesive bandage with some herbal paste after the “cups” were removed.

Herbal paste on

Herbal paste (placebo or not) does work for me.

I accept Western Medicine but I also believe Traditional Chinese Medicine holds great weight and they both can co-exist. Since “cupping” marks have been made public during the Rio Olympics, I’ll show mine.😀


The New and the Unchanged

On June 1, 2016, United Airlines began their longest non-stop flight (15 hours & 30 minutes) using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from San Francisco to Singapore. So I asked myself “why not give it a try?”. Try it I did and I love it!

@ the San Francisco International

@ the San Francisco International Terminal

Flight map on the plane

Flight map on the plane

On the third day, when jet lag had kind of subsided, I decided to walk along a stretch of  river bank which I have walked on, very often, for many decades of my life.

The Singapore River

The Singapore River

I began my work life as a student earning some extra pocket money as a part-time search clerk in a lawyer’s office and here I would walk and sit to have lunch (usually the cheapest bowl of noodles). Then year after year with cleaning up and ‘modernization’ I still ate lunch here and joined in Fridays’ post-work drink “happy hours” as buildings were being conserved and pubs began sprouting. Yes, I have seen and followed changes made to this bank of the Singapore River.

One feature hasn’t changed at all and I hope it never will. The pigeons are still flying around and lining the bank during daylight hours. They simply add some life to the concrete surroundings. One of  Ma Nature’s lovely contribution.

Pigeons always here

Pigeons always here