Monday, 27 December 2010

Roasting

Don't these make fantastic Christmas
trees, we have nicknamed them star trees
Well while the Northern hemisphere is shivering in the winter we are roasting in Australia, about 40C today and around 37/38C over the Christmas weekend. This meant that Christmas day was spent inside, in the air-conditioning, but it was a lovely relaxing day all the same, with our daughter and her fiancĂ©. Needless to say the roast dinner was left until well into the evening, Christmas dinner mid-afternoon didn't seem quite so appealing somehow but the salad and fruit lunch did. We closed the shutters mid-afternoon to shut out the light to watch the Muppet's Christmas Carol and remind ourselves of cold winter Christmases. Once again Christmas down under seems topsy turvey to a Northern hemisphere lass but the good news is that from tomorrow it is due to get cooler - around 33C, much more bearable.

The tree top walk, not particularly good value for money
as it is so short, and would be much better opened early in
the morning or at dusk to see the animals and birds but
fascinating anyway as you get to see the trees from a
different perspective.
Our holiday in Denmark.... remember Denmark, a small town on the south coast of Western Australia not the European Denmark, was a little wet and when it wasn't wet the flies were a nuisance but all in all it was still a great time, at least the rain was warm. We stayed in a youth hostel, The Blue Wren, which was a fascinating experience, meeting so many people on journeys. It was a microcosm of life with some who we connected with and some we didn't, some we spent hours chatting too and still don't know their names, some who just left and we never said goodbye and some we did, and it was all so transient and yet ...... very real. I think sometimes we hold onto relationships and people so tightly that we are not able to enjoy the pleasure of those just passing through, or we don't even make the time to enjoy those people that doesn't mean I don't value long term relationships that go deep, I do but not all relationships have to be long term. As a Christian from an evangelical-ish background your sometimes made to feel that unless you get the gospel through to at least a dozen people and three come to know Christ then the trip isn't worth it, fortunately I don't see it that way. I believe that God will work through us, definitely, but I do not feel the need to finish God's job for him, but to merely be a part of his plan. If something about our life, or our words, touches someone and draws them closer to a loving Father then great but we are happy to let God travel with the people and for them to meet someone else along the journey who opens their eyes a bit more to the reality of that heavenly Father who loves them intensely, we don't have to do the whole job in one night. In life some people take the plane flights along to their destinations, some take the slow train and some walk, but they are all on a journey and that is something we really took away from the week and the sense of freedom that comes with being able to travel when you feel like it. These folks we met weren't lazy, they work hard, in the fields, in the restaurants, even in the banks but they work and then travel, moving on, experiencing different cultures, letting it change them; and yet so often they are thought of as irresponsible or it is fine to do while young but at some stage they have to settle down and get a proper job. Not so sure I agree with that. It was good to read Paul Leader's article on journeying and how they echoed our thoughts about those who travel and how inspiring they are, it is not just us then who think that way. I particularly liked how Paul pointed out that the Bible is full of sojourners and not settlers, food for thought!

So cute! Alpacas
We didn't spend the whole week in the hostel though, we did get out and about and visited beaches and towns, galleries and a sandalwood factory, natural attractions and farms. The things that stood out to us was the warm welcome from Mark Hewson of Torbay Glass Studio who we spent quite a while chatting to about his work and his life as well as our life. I love talking to craftspeople who have a passion for their work but also a passion to share and the glass he makes is inspiring, I really loved the glass water lily fountain, it was so delicate looking due to its transparency and yet robust looking, unfortunately we couldn't fit it in the suitcase. I also loved the idea, that if you wanted to, you could come up with your own design and work with Mark to make the finished product - now I would love to do that. We also went to a pet farm, which seems an odd thing to do when we don't have little ones with us but we did have an ulterior motive. We visited a shop in Denmark that sells alpaca wool products and they were so soft and light and yet felt so warm that we did wonder whether it was feasible to actually have alpacas ourselves in Latvia and so a visit to the Pentland Alpaca Stud and animal farm seemed like a good idea. It was a great visit and the lady owner was very helpful and gave us lots of information, so much so that we are seriously going to look into it when we get back, especially as we know that there are spinners and knitters in the village back home in Latvia. We also got to feed the alpacas and the kangaroos too, well you have to don't you!!!! They were all very sweet and good natured and we loved the alpacas, especially when they talk to you with their humming voices. 

Our daughter driving us down the 4x4 track
We didn't quite manage the barbecue on the beach on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas for my American friends), it got too dark and the charcoal wouldn't light, added to which we only had my torch to light up the meal, so it got abandoned, but it was still lovely on the beach at night with the crashing surf and the millions of stars twinkling overhead, I even got to see a shooting star. The barbecue was meant to be the finish of a day where we went 4x4ing, I hadn't realised that there lots of tracks that 4x4s can use, but it is a regular hobby for some here in Oz, especially to get to isolated beaches. It was funny to see our future son-in-law taking on a family tradition of towing cars out of messes, this time it was a family with young children towing a large trailer which had got bogged down in soft sand on the track. I didn't get out of the car at this point, as the 40C heat meant instant burn for me and sand that was so hot that it was too hot to stand on, even with sandals on. We got close to the beach and the last section we walked but by the time I got to the sea my feet were burning, so it was straight into the water for a plodge and I spent the rest of the time either plodging in the water or sitting in the beach tent they had bought specially for me and my delicate northern skin. 

An emu coming for a closer look at the pet farm
I know in England there has been some disquiet at the student protests and some of the rowdier elements have been disruptive but I found the fact that students are willing to protest as encouraging. There are a few things that fill me with despair and one of them is the apathy of the younger generations, even my generation were pretty apathetic with few who have fire in their bellies. We need the youth to challenge our pre-conditioned way of thinking, we need them to not accept the status quo but to continually question, otherwise the powerful will takeover and people acquiesce to mediocre lives without even thinking about what they are doing and why. Even if at the end of the day we do not change, at least we should know why we are not changing and that is why I am encouraged by the students' protests. The youth with fire in their bellies, with questions as to why their future has been sold down the line by greed. Let's face it the generation that are making the decisions for the future are the ones that have squandered the resources of this planet, and squandered the chances they have had meaning that there is not much money now for our children's future. The generation that had free university places are no longer willing to pay for the next generation to have the same benefits. Yes the system needs looking at, why does everyone have to go to University? What kind of education is important? What do we need to take us into the next millennium? All important questions, but we should not rob this generation of their future and one young man on youtube shows what fire in the belly can look like, he doesn't have all the answers, but he's thinking, he is beginning to take an interest in the world around him and I am encouraged. Will be interesting to see where he will go, may he retain the fire in the belly for years to come.

Some more photos for you
Feeding a kangaroo
Vegetation near the beach

Sunset on the beach

4 comments:

Mavis said...

It sounds as though you are having a fabulous time down under. I love that star 'Christmas' tree.

And, 'yes', I totally agree with you about sojourners and Paul Leader's blogs. Also your comments on university education. It seems that we have got to a point when it is considered that if you haven't been to university, you haven't really had an education. Yet some of the best business people are self made and never went on to higher education.

Alpacas seem a very good idea for Latvia (IMHO) They have the warmest wool. Ponchos in South America made from alpaca wool are the best. And of course they live naturally in the high hills of the Andes in Bolivia and Peru and are used to the very cold nights. I hope you are successful in that endeavour - a brilliant idea. Who knows you may start a new trend - alpacas in Latvia.

Continue to enjoy your stay in Oz before coming back to the cold - although the snow and ice have all but gone, at least in the south.

Joanna said...

Glad you liked the tree Mavis, I have been trying to find out what it is but haven't found a picture on the net to identify it yet.

I know alpacas don't mind the cold but not so sure about the snow though as they live in a dry climate. I have been doing a little research and some alpacas seem not to mind and some do, sounds like people really.

karen said...

christmas in the heat?? Can't quite imagine what that must be like. If it's any consolation we were all frozen here!!

Joanna said...

It is just so weird and now Christmas week is over the decorations are coming down. It just does not feel like Christmas at all. I was talking to an Australian tonight and she was saying how Christmas cards have snowy scenes on which is really weird to her and it was so different for her having a cold Christmas when visiting relatives.