Sunday, 22 January 2017

Top Tennis Dog

My Sunday Photo: Sunday 22 January 2017

The Crazy Poodle has had a big week.
Firstly he had a pampering session at the groomers
so he would be looking gorgeous and smelling sweetly 
for our international guests.

Hmmm best laid plans of mice and men and all that...
The groomer points out a slight eye infection which appears once he's had his facial and combines with water in the ears to give him the itches.
  Big time!
He is none too pleased with my bucket on the head solution
but thankfully it does solve the problem and he is right (ok exhausted), 
for his media appearances later in the week...



He's a laid back dog at the best of time and can't believe his luck to be invited onto the sofa to watch the tennis. Of course he soon made himself comfortable on his favourite tennis player! Once there and fast asleep, he had no idea that he was just about to be Instafamous.
You can read the full story here


Linking with thanks to Darren at My Sunday Photo


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Winners are grinners at the Aus Open 2017

Talk about nearly choking on my cappuccino!
So there I am enjoying a quiet coffee at the Australian Open
when suddenly the peaceful garden area of the player lounge 
becomes a hive of activity and out of the corner of my eye, a croc appears!



Have you ever wondered how the players find the time to cuddle a koala or kangaroo? As if by magic the garden is transformed into a private up close and personal encounter with some of our favourite, and our not so favourite, Aussie animals. 



It was a watch your back moment as a massive snake appears... But let's show you the koala who was clearly aware of his opportunity to shine. I mean who has ever seen a koala this alert? They seriously normally sleep 24/7!



Of course, everyone wanted to cuddle the koala and who wouldn't except that in Australia you need a license to handle a koala, so bring on the little joey in the poach who seemed to enjoy all the attention from the gathering crowd.


But let me introduce you to my favourites, the fairy penguins who lucky ducks (well not quite, but you know what I mean!) were given a blue paddling pool to splash around in. These rescued fairy penguins couldn't believe their good fortune (me too), and in the presence of the world's best tennis players put on quite an athletic aquatic talent show. Diving, splashing and generally having a thoroughly amazing time.



Quite like this little wren who sucks her belly in as she tries not to bump a player taking photos. I thought about saying: 
'So does anyone want to meet a real Aussie Wren?'
 but sadly all eyes were elsewhere...




Linking with thanks to Eileen at Saturdays Critters 





Keeping our cool at the Australian Open

For the past nine years, we have been privileged to be a player guest at the Australian Open. Together with a number of friends we share our homes with visiting tennis players and through their generosity we have an opportunity to experience the Australian Open in a unique way. 

My player guest accreditation gives me access to travel in the Australian Open cars, to eat in the player cafe and to relax between matches in the Player Lounge. On Tuesday it was 38 degrees celsius, if it was tough for the spectators watching in that heat, it was even harder for the players. I don't know how they do it. I have the utmost respect for the players, this is a tough life. 

Here are some of my favourite photos from the week...

1. The Australian Open has a new logo, and we are greeted on arrival with this huge sign made of tennis balls. It is impossible to take a photo without someone in it as you can see!

Having a ball at the AO 2017
2. The Australian Open is not called the 'Happy Slam' for nothing.  Our blue tennis courts look good under blue skies with the Melbourne CBD backdrop setting. Our crowds are lively and together with easy transport access, it's easy to see why the fans, there were 73,000  of us on Day one, have a ball.

My tip for a great AO photo - stand behind a professional!
3. New this year is an area called Grand Slam Oval featuring Melbourne Gardens, Paris Quarter, NYC Streets and the English Club. It gives visitors a taste of the four Grand Slams on the worldwide stage. In 2016 I was fortunate enough to have also attended Roland Garros and Wimbledon, It was fun to stroll around before the crowds reliving old memories of these other grand tennis occasions. 
The Summer starts now at the Australian Open
4. For me, one of the big differences is the unpredictability of Melbourne's weather. The first two days of the tournament were so incredibly hot. We know how to pack for such conditions; sunscreen, hats, plenty of water and a bottle of frozen water bottle, a wet sarong to drape around our necks like the players iced-sausages that they wear between points, a towel to sit on, and the clever amongst us brought umbrellas for some shade... 

Of course, by Wednesday our temperatures had dropped by 22 degrees, so out come the towels and sarongs to keep warm! 


However by Thursday despite all my best precautions, my nose was burnt and we took every opportunity to be in the shade - good job this is not the French Open. I'm not sure this approach to fashion courtside would be considered tres chic! 

So here we are gripped watching Djokovic on the big garden screen on his way to an early exit.  Dare I say it now, but I am very much hoping to be cheering on Sir Andy Murray when we go to the Men's finals next weekend.

Wren and friend, doing the Aus Open in style
Looking forward to showing you some more photos of on and off 
court action tomorrow.



Linking with thanks to Amy at Five on Friday

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Summer is here!

Like some perverse sort of warm-up for my new Bangkok life, Melbourne has gone crazy hot.
It's fine down at the beach but not when we're back in town. I've jobs to do! Luckily one of those was sorting out the pond. You may have seen all the baby fish we found if you follow my Instagram @LWWren. 


Still, for those of you sitting amidst minus temperatures or staring down the barrel of a gloomy, grey January it might appear a bit churlish to be complaining about the weather but hey that's in my British DNA. Luckily not too many of my friends dare to call me a whinging Pom!


Well, not to my face! No everyone is being terribly nice to us at the moment. They hardly get the words out of their mouths about how sad they are to see us go, before the phone calendars are open and a Thai holiday being planned! Of course, that makes me super pleased it won't be so hard to leave if we get loads of visitors.


What am I on? Of course it will be hard to leave, Melbourne is putting on a perfect show of loveliness at the moment. The rains of late December have combined with the warmth to make everything bloomin' gorgeous. You don't call us the leafy suburbs for nothing! Give us another few days are we will be burnt to a crisp, but right now all is good.


All is calm too! This is my favourite time of year in Melbourne. With many still away for the summer, it's not uncommon in my area for families to be away at the beach until Australia Day on 26 January, it's quieter than normal. The roads are empty and parking is a breeze! If you look carefully you can see through the fence post the building of the house across the road. The tradies are still on their hols, not a single jackhammer at 7am, bliss!


Our garden is looking pretty as a picture. I'm rather pleased with the dainty lavender dancing amongst my Indonesian fence posts in the front garden. We created this garden art to give a subtle hint of Asia in the front garden, linking with the Chinese doors out the back. I remember saying I wanted a touch of Asia, without it being a massive Buddha's head. Hmmm that would make the neighbours laugh if we now added a massive Buddha's head to the garden! You can read about our Chinese garden doors here


Sooo you see everything is getting a bit of a spruce up for two reasons, one we're on a one way ticket out of here, not sure when I'll next get the chance... Secondly we have some lovely visitors about to arrive. Here is the Crazy Poodle sporting (ha ha) his new summer short back and sides haircut. He's on the lookout. Watching. Waiting.

Anyone for tennis?



Linking with thanks to the hosts at Our World Tuesday

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 a cataclysmic year of shock and change…

2016 started off as a normal year for our family. However looking back there were signs even then of what was ahead. From the moment we sweltered through an uncomfortably sticky New Years Eve, it should have been apparent that the year of the fire monkey was going to have me hot and bothered!



Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Mr Wren also known as Monkey man, on account of his zoology background studying red colobus monkeys, was bored. Ready for a change. Yep, oh my golly gosh all the signs were there: fire and monkey. I was just head down, bum up, enjoying life, and rather blindsided when the Company announced our move to Bangkok, before I'd even been to look at the City of Angels. I call that a bit rude, he calls that effective business planning!

Our January showed little signs of what was ahead. I was finishing off in my locum Social and Community Development role with the wonderful Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and preparing for our last family holiday together in Myanmar. Daughter Number One was packing to leave the nest for the London Good Life.

And there was the Tennis! We'd had a thoroughly amazing time, our seventh year hosting for the Australian Open tennis and indeed in 2016 I was well on my way to the Fan Slam having also loved being a tennis groupie at Roland Garros and Wimbledon before the proverbial rain stopped play! 

Our family travel in 2016 was at an all time record. The kids all living up to their parents wanderlust tendencies. We've covered a bit of the globe between us: Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong & Macau, Malaysia, France, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Croatia, United States of America, Cuba, Guatemala, Belize and more I'm sure I have forgotten.

In July a surprise return to work, was a welcome distraction from cataclysmic world events like Brexit, mutterings of an international transfer and a whole heap of kids sports related injuries - if you can count jumping of a cliff a sports induced injury...

So 2017 will see us jumping into a new life in Thailand. I won't say we are leaving the 2016 World's most liveable city, the bestest of friends, or my favourite job ever to do this... I know we would have never had all this, if we didn't leave the last most amazing city Hong Kong, or Brussels before that...

And of course I wouldn't dream of leaving before the tennis, so don't get too excited to see Bangkok as we have a whole lovely Summer of tennis ahead. Roll on the Australian Open!

Happy New Year to us all!!!












Saturday, 31 December 2016

Flies, Floods and Festivities


I'm rather pleased with our Christmas this year!
Thanks to our friends Down Under and the warm weather.
I salute you all!

Of course that's an "Aussie salute" to also shoo the flies away.
Melbourne is experiencing a weird summer with a fly plague.
We've just had the warmest Christmas in eighteen years
followed by flash flooding in Melbourne.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures from our Christmas 
at the beach on the Mornington Peninsula:
Antlers with a beachy twist was the theme!
We do have the nicest friends, who knowing we were overseas until just before Christmas, fill up our fridge with all sorts of wonderful goodies, make a girdle buster ice cream pudding, and arrive bringing with them the turducken; turkey, with duck and chicken, cooked to perfection on their barbecue. 

On account of it being bleedin' hot, I instigated a 
TOB - Total Oven Ban. 
So salads were mostly the order of the day. 
Which caused a few problems with the must-have roast potatoes and parsnips. 
Cooked, or should I say incinerated, on the barbecue. 
But then who can blame Mr Wren for not wanting to go out in the heat of the day to check on them! Fortunately I don't have any photos!

I do have photos however, of some wonderful walks we enjoyed ...

Number Sixteen Beach, Rye
Sorrento Ocean Beach
We had a lovely surprise on Boxing Day, a last minute invite for sundowners on Port Phillip Bay on this gorgeous catamaran:

Blairgowrie pier, waiting for pick up
We weren't the only ones admiring the cat, 
as we were joined by a pod of dolphins playing and racing alongside for a while.
That was a pretty special boating on the bay experience!


I hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, do share!


Friday, 23 December 2016

I'll be home for Christmas (or not)

Well here we have it the Final Countdown
Don't you find it funny the way you think in songs at this time of year? 
I think it's all that surreptitious brainwashing of Christmas background music!


The one song that I keep have going round in my head is: 

'I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me'

Which is a bit of a joke in our family. In fact last week 
all five of us were in different countries, on four different continents!

It's not the first time we need a spreadsheet to work out where everyone is!



'Please have snow and mistletoe 

And presents on the tree' 


Well snow is a big ask for the Australian crowd as it's going to be a hot one.
 A top of 35 degrees celsius (95°F) in Melbourne,
Adelaide will be the hottest city in the world!

It's similar to last year when summer rules apply
If it can't be cooked on the barbecue forget it,
 it's turkey and some posh salads.
Here's what happened to the chocolates!



We don't really do presents, so that's out
Each of the kids are getting a flight to visit us in Thailand

Mr Wren would say we don't really do the tree either!
Argh now the tree, 
that's a bit contentious in our family as we have a fake one! 
I love my Costco tree.

All is calm, all is very, very bright!


Does anyone else have a right royal punch-up over the Christmas tree or is it only our family? You see my lot, going back to their European heritage think it's not Christmas without a real tree. But a real tree does not do well in Australia, it's too hot and they make me sneeze... 
and as I'm the only one to organise anything, well up goes the Costco fake tree!
'Christmas eve will find me

Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams'
Happy Christmas everyone, may yours be merry and bright too!




Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas Card Exchange

Can you imagine what a nightmare it must be
when your blog is called Fairy Bluebells Craft Adventure and your drawn 
with Little Wandering Wren for Amy's annual Christmas Card swap? 

Well fortunately we ended up being beautifully matched because there is nothing I like better 
than a traditional English snowy Christmas card. Here is Debbie's card below.
Thank you Debbie it has been lovely to meet you here.


They say past behaviour predicts future behaviour 
so poor Debbie drew the short, and rather long distance expensive straw, 
when she was allocated an Australian blogger with as much crafting talent as a rock.

We're not talking an Uluru, Ayers Rock sort of a rock,
and yep I reckon you could count on one hand the amount of craft posts I have done...


I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking to add in Christmas card making into the mix 
of packing up and leaving Australia.
Except that it seemed like a lovely idea!
Zen Wren here I come.

When, I couldn't believe my luck, a dear friend 
invited me for a night of Christmas champagne and card making - Yes there is a God!

Back in the day, and we're talking nearly twenty years ago, I confess to hosting a card making event.
It was one of those light bulb moments, when you are staring down the barrel of who you really are.
Amongst my friendship group I am surrounded by perfectionists. I like things well done,
 and admired their intricate designs and perfect cuts. 

They say opposites attract...
 I realised, having made copious cards, many saying Merry 'ristmas 
that I was destined for a life where the motto of 'near enough is good enough'
was perfect for Little Wandering Wren!


Twenty years on, I am about to move to a country where I have all the time in the world.
I know no-one and have nothing to do (at the moment - wink!)
I could re-invent myself as anything I want, within reason.

I had also, already written our 2016 Christmas cards with the big new announcement
'sorry to be messing up your address books again but we're moving to Bangkok' 
and so no need for Merry 'ristmas cards this year.

 Here is the end result of our Champagne and card making evening:
two cards from Wren (you can see the little bird I copied above) with plenty of glitter.
I figured my new life can be full of sparkle!


If Mr Wren is reading this that could either mean 
sparkling seas at lovely Thai beaches or diamonds!

Happy Christmas!





Monday, 19 December 2016

Oh Christmas Tree!

Christmas trees I've seen a few, 
but rarely has a Christmas tree stopped me in my tracks 
quite like the one at the Sofitel, Bangkok Sukhumvit.
Wow, it is delightful.


 It's hard to get a decent photo amidst the busy foyer entrance
but I don't remember a Christmas tree that has me drawn me in,
wandering round and around, like this one!


Every where you look there is something interesting.
From the choice of books 'Beautiful Youth' to the rich luxurious cushions,
candles and gifts just waiting to be unwrapped...


Just look at the detail, can you spot the reading glasses?
They've used hundreds of books through out the hotel.


Of course on top there is something special
Not a tired old fairy, or a wobbly star,
but a whole black chandelier.
So tall, it almost reaches the foyer ceiling lights.
Oh the fun they must have had designing this tree! 


The book theme is central to the Sofitel's Christmas decorations
and the staff are all happy to tell you the story of a young boy William,
whose favourite time of year was Christmas and he loved the Christmas tree.


One year his Father made a Christmas tree of books
and told young William and his brother 
that every night in December they would read one of the books.


Now William is the General Manager of Accor Hotels
It's a cute story, as is the one of the staff making all the Christmas trees
I especially liked these ones above on upturned wine glasses!

It makes it a bit tricky to read the book, or to drink the wine
but there we have it, a fun party idea for Christmas day perhaps?

We've just spent a lovely weekend at the Sofitel Sukhumvit*
looking at places to live for our upcoming move to Bangkok.



* Product Disclosure: None! We paid for our own rooms :)

Linking with thanks and a Happy Christmas 
to the team and all the bloggers 



Sunday, 11 December 2016

Dogs N Grog

Tis the season to be jolly!
We're looking forward to another ocean beach Christmas.
It's casual, relaxed affair. Just us, our friends and four dogs!


There is a wonderful 'Dogs N Grog' Christmas tradition in our Melbourne park. 
All the dog owners are invited for festive drinks in the park with their pooches. 
The beauty of a summer Christmas.

It's a casual chaotic affair by all accounts - bring a bottle and a dog or two.
It pretty much sums up how our Christmas will be.



And the really good news is that I've found the gin, 
goodness knows where the brandy's gone and sherry forget it.

So proud was I of my gin find, I decided to make a feature of it.
What do you think?
I'm not doing much (read anything) in the way of Christmas decorations...
So I was rather proud of this effort - hic!
Well, I'm just about to fly to Bangkok for a weeks house hunting,
and we're not having Christmas here in Melbourne anyway.
I know, excuses, excuses!


By the time we eventually get to the beach, I'm hoping it will be a relaxed affair... 
Good friends, a few dogs, some long walks and a whole load of grog!
And afterwards in my perfect Christmas plan
We'll all have a little snooze and let the sleeping dogs lie!


What does your perfect Christmas look like?!
Linking with thanks to Eileen at Saturday's Critters
And the team at Our World Tuesday