So we went to Canberra, the nation's capital for the weekend. Years ago, in a former life, I used to work for 10 weeks a year in Canberra. I didn't like it then, preferring the shambolic glitz and LA style naughtiness that Sydney offered. Besides, anywhere that gets colder than 10 degrees Centigrade is never going to be my favourite place.
However, as I have matured and become the most boring woman on earth, Canberra is looking good to me. We went to Questacon (the science museum) where the whole place is set up as a series of stations, each one offering a different experiment. The rooms are themed (you know - waves, music, kinetics etc). Alan has never been to Canberra before and is very keen on science so he was right into it - my favourite thing was the simulated gallows - even though your brain knows that the blade can't actually chop your head off it impossibe to put your head on that block.
The Australian National Museum copped a lot of flack when it first opened. It was deemed to be some sort of 'museum lite' - dumbed down and not the real thing. I was brought to tears in this place, something I can't say about the V & A in London. This place is all about what it means to be an Australian. It is a series of very poignant snapshots of events and people and places who shaped the Australian culture. I was brought to tears by a ripped, bloodied and mud splattered tshirt hanging on the wall - it was worn by one of the survivors of the sari club bombings in 2002. You can even inspect for yourself the 'blood' splatters on the inside of Lindy Chamberlains glovebox. Oh yes, something for every ambulance chaser.
And the most Australian of quotes in my opinion? "We had quite a bit of luck with the discovery of penicillin" - by Walter Florey. Such understatement. Speaks for itself really. Also pretty Australian that the discovery of penicillin is often mistakenly attributed to Fleming, but the truth is that it was Mr Florey. Which leads me to this very interesting website about historic anecdotes
. Head over there and enjoy yourself.
The Canberra Zoo has a massive TV ad campaign with the slogan 'a touching experience'. Apparently you can pay extra to have a bear lick honey from your hand and you can get up close and personal with a tigon (a cross breed rescued from a circus - true story), a cheetah and a lion. Strange then I kept seeing signs like this all over the place.
Inside the Botanic Gardens we found the most delightful haven. The cafe there serves home-made food with tables outside on the grass - after two days in fast food joints and kid friendly restaurants where everything is fried I was gasping for some proper vegetables and some fresh raw food. It was a real delight there, the kids investigated a pond full of frog spawn while I ate some delicious thai chicken patties with a mountain of fresh salad. Yum yum. Even the kids chowed down on vegetarian lasagne and salad.
And I felt the weight of all that motherguilt lift off my shoulders for indeed the children had ingested a vegetable during our holiday. Because no-one counts french fries as vegetables, do they?
On the way out we saw a sign which I found quite bizzare. Imagine how excited the city of Canberra would have been to be hosting these two in 1985? Who would have predicted the tragic way that hand played itself out??
We swam in the pool, relaxed in the spa. I even ventured into the 'hot room' as my daughter explained it to me. We drove around the Embassies and all around Parliament House. Canberra showed off her crown jewels with brilliant sunshine and crisp air. The perfect spring break.
On the way home we dropped into the old bus depot markets. I don't usually love markets all that much, I find them predominantly full of cheap crap. Maybe I should go to more markets like these. Miles of organic produce, artisanal breads, homemade sweets. Plenty of handmade candles and creams as well - they bore me to tears.
Some gorgeous handwoven things, felted creations and handknitted garments too.
And, hiding there on a little table just waiting for me was this. Filatura Di Crosa Centolavaggi - the softest merino two ply perfect for the mystery shawl 2. The label says. "irrestringible" - I wonder what on earth that means??
I even got some knitting done! Unfortunately, lace looks so rubbish before it is blocked. This is the triangular fiddlesticks shawl in leftover Kaalund Expressions. I have about 30 or so rows to do until I've finished, but I have a fair bit left so I think I'll just keep going until it's gone.
When I got home, I was greeted by a little parcel on my kitchen counter. Mum brought it in while we were away. She also cleaned up 'a little' - it was like coming home to a five star hotel room! Inside the package was my sp6 gift.
Regia sock - another iconic yarn that I now can say I own. Sachet of rose pot pourri - lovely and some stationery.
Two little moon cakes. I would not have known what moon cakes were, but my SP6 thoughtfully included a few pages on the history of the chinese moon-worshipping festival. There are many stories, but the gist of it is that a talented archer - Yi, was given an immortality pill as a reward for killing nine of the ten suns which were scorching the earth. He did not take the pill, but kept it safe whilst he purified himself in anticipation of his immortality. His wife, Chang Er, found the pill and took it herself. The pill made her float up into the sky, shrouded in a beam of light.
Yi could not bring himself to shoot his beautiful wife, although he chased after her through the sky with a hare. So she and the hare remained in the sky bathed in light.
Yi built himself a palace in the sun : Yang. His wife the moon is the Yin. Once a year, on the 15th day of the full moon, Yi visits his wife. That is why the moon is full and beautiful on that night. Because the Yin and the yang are at it like hares.
Or something like that.
So there you have it, a weekend of great mind-expansion.
Unfortunately I ruined it with a Sunday night of massive brain cell killing. The AFL grand final was on (as if you didn't know!) and even though I have yet to ever watch a game of rugby league in my life I'm all about the party. I came third in the tipping competition and celebrated in style on the famous deck of my friend Ronelle. I'm living me the springtime - back to the business or 'entertaining' and being 'entertained'! Love that word 'entertaining' - it's a euphemism of course for eating great food and drinking loads of wine.
I hope you all have an entertaining week then.