Friday, July 27, 2007

Adventure in Embassyland

Martha (pronounced Marta) and I decided to go to an Egyptian National Day reception at the Egyptian Embassy. The AIIA gets invited to lots of different events, lectures, and receptions, and it’s considered one of the perks of the internship to be able to go to them.

We took the bus as close as we could get, and then we had to walk the rest of the way. We’ve been on outings before, notably to a couple of lectures at Parliament House, and we should have known that if we made wrong turns with a map (as we did walking home from Parliament House) that we shouldn’t go anywhere without a map. Unfortunately, we forgot!

Luckily it was a beautiful, sunny day, probably the warmest it’s been since I’ve been to Canberra (it got up to 15 degrees Celsius!) We walked past lots of embassies, which was interesting. They are all in the same suburb of Canberra. After realizing we were not heading the right place, we ended up at the Lodge, the Prime Minister’s residence (the Aussie equivalent to the White House.) There was a number on our invitation, and we thought the Lodge would be a good landmark to start from to get directions. While I was calling the Egyptian Embassy though, a security guard from the Lodge came out, and while I was afraid we were going to be told off for loitering, he was very friendly, and when he heard we were lost he promptly disappeared back inside to get a map to show us the route.

He gave very good directions, and we ended up at the Embassy only about 40 minutes late. On our way, we also saw the American Embassy. Martha saw it first, pointing ahead, “I think that’s the American Embassy.” I looked, and replied, “Oh, the one with all the cars?”

Yes, it was the one with all the cars.

It was an absolute compound actually! Most embassies are just one building, but the US Embassy had enormous grounds with multiple buildings, all in red brick colonial style (they would have been at home on the Chapel Hill campus.)

The reception itself was fine, if a bit dull. Martha and I were mostly just curious about as it would be like and hoping for a free lunch. We didn’t get lunch, but we did get to try lots of little bites of Egyptian food. A lovely little pastry that tasted like baklava, falafel, and mahshi - grapevine leaves stuffed with a rice mixture.

Next week we’re going to an event at the US Embassy. Perhaps we’ll remember to bring a map this time!

Below are a few of the embassies that we saw. I would put up a picture of the Lodge, but it was surrounded by a wall, so we didn't get to see what it looks like.

The Turkish Embassy

This is the French Embassy; I was surprised by how unattractive it was. I believe Martha described it as an "ugly bunker." Maybe they were going for a bastille theme. ;)

Here is the Indonesian Embassy, which I enjoyed seeing, as I met the Indonesian ambassador at the conference in Brisbane.

Here is the American Embassy. This picture doesn't nearly capture the scope of it. There were lots of parking lots out front, with a ton of buildings surrounded by the fence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bateman's Bay

All along I have thought to myself that for all the pictures I post, I probably should have just skipped the blog and put my pictures up on a website like Photo Bucket or Flickr. This post makes that all the more clear.

I had a really hard time choosing which pictures to use. They are all so beautiful! I just loved the coast. It was very different from the coast in North Carolina. I think the beach we went to might aptly be described as rugged, an overused term perhaps, but I can come up with no better word.

We could hear Kookaburras where we were. If you click on the name, it should be a link to an audio clip. It's a familiar sound, but I always thought it was a monkey call! (Kookaburras are birds. They look a bit like woodpeckers.)

The girls built sand castles. They have quite good designs, as they lived in Scotland for a year when they were younger, and visited many real castles.

I couldn't get over the view! It was just incredible. I really wish I could have gone swimming and explored by way of the water.

I won't discose exactly how long, or how many failed pictures, it took to capture the surf spray like this. I do think it was worth it though.

A beautiful little cave that we had to walk past to get around to the main beach. It was so cool!

Seagulls are rather universal, but they provide good perspective here. I was rather enamored with the island, and it appears in quite a few more picture I haven't included. During the summer, Dafydd said you can swim out to it.

As you can see, the bush comes right up to the waterfront.

Isn't it gorgeous? Apparently, on the other side of this strip of land is a house owned by Nicole Kidman's family. They said the town turns into quite a circus when she comes to visit.

Here's the house we stayed in. Dafydd's family has owned this plot of land for a few decades now.

Pelicans - this harbor scene remined my a lot of Finding Nemo. The pelicans were here to catch scraps from the fish and chips shop.

This was the amazing fish and chips shop. It was so good! The fish was lovely, white and tender, with amazing saltly greasy batter. It beat a Friday night fish fry anyday, I must say.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bush Block

Friends of the Gwynn-Joneses own a plot of land out in the bush (what we would call the country.) We went out there for the day this Saturday. It was incredibly beautiful - I wish I was a better photographer, because I haven't really captured the epic nature of the landscape. It was a great day though, despite the not so great weather.

This is taken from the car on the way up, but it actually turned out quite well, despite being taken through the windshield.

Sian standing by a wombat hole - they're humongous! I saw quite a few holes, but sadly no wombats.

This is a real Aussie dunny (outhouse.) They call it the "Loo with a View," as it looks out onto the river (see next picture.)

I would love to come back in the summer. They hang out by the river, go canoing and tubing, and all other sorts of activities. It's so gorgeous!

Dafydd is barbecuing our snags (sausages) over the fire. At one point, when we'd gotten back from our hike in the light rain, our clothes were steaming as we stood by the fire.

Sian and Caitlin with the dog of one of the neighbors - note the adorable sweater!

This is on our hike up to see their waterfall. Since their friends have owned the property, the drought has been so bad that they've never seen water in the creek bed. We hiked up to see their waterfall, actually flowing for the first time in years.

Caitlin and I in the ravine. (also Paul and Sue, the owners of the property.) It was so beautiful there! None of my pictures did it justice. They own 600 acres, and it sounds an awful lot like paradise being able to just explore the bush at will. There are no trails, just whatever paths you make/find. Real bush-whacking!

Sian and Sue by the waterfall. You can see Lenny, Sue's dog in the pool. The dogs didn't seem to mind the freezing cold!

Friday, July 6, 2007

A sadly theme-less entry

This entry has no theme, I'm disappointed to report. On the bright side, I do have pictures!

This is the Chinese Embassy. It looks rather nice, although I’m not too pleased with it at the moment. I’ve made two trips out there (during work, of course, as that is also their normal business hours) and I still haven’t been able to lodge my visa application. The third time had better be the charm!

As I was walking to work today, I saw this flock of cockatoos. It looked very bizarre to me, as cockatoos are normally in zoos or pet shops in the States. Here though, they’re just a normal bird. Weird!

Ouch! Dafydd was driving to work last week, and he ran into a kangaroo. It destroyed the headlight and caused a lot of damage, but believe it or not, the kangaroo survived! For how long afterwards though, I’m not sure…

I saved my pottery for last as it has nothing to do with Australia, and I suspect it falls into the category of “things only a mother would be interested in.” I will admit though, I’m absurdly proud of it all, so I took far longer than was necessary to pick out a spot to photograph it. (The bathroom had the best light, not to mention a nice empty white counter.) In my defense, it was Friday afternoon so my vanity didn’t interfere with anything.

Here are the products of my pottery class:

There's no way to get a perspective of size in most of these pictures, but this is the size of a normal glass.

These are bigger, as you can see from the next picture, compared to the tissue box. The left vase is blue on the inside.

You can tell I was taking these pictures in the bathroom, I think.

This pitcher is one of my favorites. It's a little bigger than the previous two pieces.

This one I actually think is just plain ugly, but I kept and glazed it anyway. Perhaps someone else will fall in love with it (as perhaps only a mother could do.)

This is the only big bowl of mine which survived the firing process, but it still got a little cracked in the bottom. Note the faint blue stripe on the inside.

This bowl is so beautiful, but its bottom cracked off, which you can't really tell from the picture. My teacher sanded it to make it sit flat, but it broke all the way through, so it's sadly useless as a bowl.

I love this bowl! Too bad it has a chip in the rim. All of my three big bowls are the same size, which is much bigger than anything I've made previously, as you can tell from the tissue box.

Dafydd said that it has a spoon rest built in. As it's the only bowl with an intact bottom and therefore usable, I think that's a pretty good suggestion.

I think this might be my favorite piece. It's smaller than the previous bowls, about the size of a cereal bowl. It's not quite the right shape to be used as a bowl, but I love the shape too much to care.

Brownie points for anyone who read all the way through me explaining the minutiae of my pottery pieces.