Shanghai

The W to Z of Windows and Doors

The W to Z of Windows and Doors

Talk about leaving the hardest to last! The irony is that I learned the alphabet backwards before I was five. I still find it easier to say the alphabet backwards – and to go from the back to the front of a dictionary. So why am I only now working on the W to Z of windows and doors? Why didn’t I start the journey at Z? I have no idea!

But Here I Am!

W – W is for Wellington, New Zealand. A trip to New Zealand was never on my travel-radar, until September 2017. And then, as usually happens, it was circumstance rather than deep burning passion, that had me jetting off to Wellington. And they don’t call it Windy Wellington for nothing! After the pilot had switched off the engines at Wellington Airport, the plane started rocking from side-to-side. With wide-eyes of terror, I was close enough to the flight attendant to ask, “Is that the wind making the plane move?”. She replied in the affirmative, and added “You should have seen it earlier today”.

I’m glad I didn’t!

Did you know that only pilots who have had special training are allowed to land in Wellington? I now know why! And that was my introduction to Windy Wellington.

Despite the wind and the cold, I fell in love with the beautiful city and its people. And its windows and doors! One of my favourite holiday photos is this door in Cuba Street.

Black and white photo - side view of a door with a pot plant near it and signs above it

I decided to feature the photo without colour – it just adds a different feel to the scene. It isn’t the most beautiful door in my photo collection, but it has a certain charm that I love.

W is also for Windsor, an historic town north-west of Sydney.

Windsor is famous for a lot of things, not the least of which being the place where I grew up. One of the great windows in my hometown is in a house called The Doctor’s House. The house overlooks the Hawkesbury River and the old Windsor Bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge is currently undergoing a controversial change – not sure if I would call it progress, but it’s happening.

Old red brick two-storey house with verandah around the top floor with white railing, white doors and white shutters on the windows.

The white doors and shutters in the old house stand out against the red bricks.

White door with arched glass above and window with white shutters set into a red brick wall with sandstone steps leading down from the door
The Doctor’s House in Windsor

There is so much history in Windsor – including the oldest Pub in Australia – The Macquarie Arms Hotel.

Convict life was a prominent part of Windsor’s history and St Matthews Anglican Church, designed by Francis Greenway, was built by convict labour.

And now, X marks the spot…

X – now here’s a challenge! As I trawled through my photos – thousands of them – I came across a place called Xinzhuang, in China – more specifically, Shanghai. The reason I have any photos from Xinzhuang is because I took photos of the arches and roadways leading to Shanghai Airport. According to my trusty photo App, the exact spot of those arches and roadways is called Xinzhuang. Admittedly, they’re not exactly windows and/or doors, but they are close – kind of – (imagination needed for this). All you need to do is build some walls around the arches and Voila!, they would be spectacular doors.

Xinzhuang

Y – Y? Because Yatala starts with Y! And what is the big attraction in Yatala? Yatala Pies! Wait – where is Yatala? Take the M1 Highway from Brisbane in the north, to the Gold Coast in the South, and you will find Yatala just south of Beenleigh. I think the old highway went right past the door, almost, but now you have to detour, just a little bit.

Back in the old days…

My dear old dad used to call in there on his way back to Brisbane from the Gold Coast, to partake of their famous pies. By the way, that’s a hint to how long Yatala Pies has been plying their trade on the side of the highway that links North and South, on the East Coast. Thousands of motorists have detoured over the years and either dined in, or used the drive-thru option.

The important thing is, Yatala Pies has some great windows. Oh, and did I mention how good the pies are? Judging by the number of people dining in or passing through the drive-thru each time I visit, I’d say they’re pretty good!

Stained Glass windows featuring Australian animals - Emu, Goanna, Kangaroo and Kookaburra
Australiana captured in this beautiful window
Stained glass window featuring a red parrots and leaves
Red Parrots – part of the Australian bush, and this window at Yatala Pies

And finally, Z (wish me luck with this one!).

Z is for ?, and there’s always ??, and I couldn’t forget that quirky little place called ???. Dang, what does start with Z? Wait! There’s only one country that comes to mind when I think of places that would start with Z – China – of course! Let me check my photos from China and I’ll be right back, or – brb – as the young ‘texters’ would say.

Z is for Zhujiajiao – in China – somewhere not too far from Shanghai. Zhujiajiao is famous for its heritage as one of the Ancient Water Towns. The following photo is a slight diversion from windows and doors – but it’s just so symbolic of this fabulous place. I took the photo from the balcony of a Starbucks store – that just happened to be nearby. Yes!! Coffee!!!!

And now, back to the windows and doors.

Sometimes it isn’t as much about what the door looks like, as what it represents. In the following photo, it was all about what awaited me on the other side of the door. This was my little haven in Zhujiajiao.

A Funny Thing Happened in Zhujiajiao

On the day this photo was taken, our host had arranged transport for three of us to go to Zhujiajiao for a quick visit.

We had only been in the country for two days and were keen to explore. Our lovely host, Julie, had even written our accommodation address in Chinese so we could easily get a taxi back. Well, we enjoyed a coffee at Starbucks and then decided to cross the bridge. Now really, was it our fault there was a large market area on the other side? And was it our fault there was a ‘foot-massage’ place there? We couldn’t resist some shopping and one of us couldn’t resist slipping off her shoes and letting the cute little fish nibble massage her feet.

Time flies!

By then, we realised that time had slipped away while we were having fun, because that’s what time does. We were late – actually – very late!

No problem, I said, I can use WeChat to contact Julie. But WeChat needs WiFi to function.

Solution?

Go back to Starbucks and use their WiFi. Oh, and maybe have another coffee, because you can’t just ask to use their WiFi without ordering a coffee first. Coffee ordered and paid for – but no WiFi without a Chinese Sim. Oh well, we were already late so we might as well just enjoy the coffee.

Oops!

We found a taxi, managed the address problem and arrived back to a welcoming committee, in the form of Julie. A very-worried Julie!, who was just thinking about sending out a search party to look for us. Naturally, we were grounded! – but we were back in Julie’s good books by the end of the night when she arrived in our apartment to partake of a wine or two with us.

What’s next?

With the W to Z of windows and doors all wrapped up, let’s see where blogging takes me next. I still have thousands of photos and memories just begging to be shared, so watch this space!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments
Blog Challenge Day 7 – What Day Are We Up To?

Blog Challenge Day 7 – What Day Are We Up To?

What Day Are We Up To?

Faster than a Shanghai Bullet Train

The Blog Challenge started out well but somehow, lately, deadlines are rushing past me faster than the Bullet Train leaving Shanghai Station. The question ‘What day are we up to?’ seems to be creeping into my thoughts more often than I care to acknowledge. The new year has just begun, so why is it in such a hurry to be over?

Where Did That Year Go?

Given the prospect of another year slipping by, I figured it might be time to make some definite plans; set some goals; find some direction. I’m guessing it’s what most people call ‘New Year’s Resolutions’, except, I don’t do them. I used to – sort of, but the goals would usually end up as fleeting thoughts that passed through my mind on their way to the dark place that thoughts disappear to. I don’t know where that place is because I’ve never successfully retrieved anything significant from there. All those goal-oriented thoughts hung around just long enough to leave a faint, whimsical memory before slipping silently into the void. All that was left was an occasional “Oh yeah, I kind of remember thinking I would do that – that was how long ago? Surely not!”.

This year I’m going to try a radical new approach and actually write the ideas down. There’s no guarantee that this will work any better than not writing them, but it’s worth a try.

The problem with writing the ideas down is a lot like writing a shopping list.

The Shopping List

The finer points of the shopping list include the following:

  • take stock of the pantry
  • scan the refrigerator for essential items, or lack thereof
  • transcribe the absent items onto a very long piece of paper, herein referred to as ‘the list’
  • drive to the store
  • spend five minutes circling the car park looking for an empty space not too far from the door
  • spend another five minutes test-driving trolleys (shopping carts) to find one with all four wheels in alignment
  • wheel the trolley to the top of the first aisle ready to start shopping
  • put your hand into your pocket to retrieve the list
  • open your wallet in the hope that the list is in there
  • search every conceivable place that an elusive list could have found its way into
  • suddenly picture the list sitting on the kitchen table, right where you wrote the very last item
  • debate whether to drive all the way home to get the list
  • decide to ‘wing it’ and shop without the list; how hard could that be – you only wrote the list an hour or so ago
  • wonder why you have a lot more items at the checkout than you remember writing on the list
  • drive home
  • wonder why you have an abundance of items that weren’t on the list and none of the urgent items that you are completely out of
  • vow to never waste time writing a list again

The Carpark

The shopping list method doesn’t work!

Which brings me right back to the radical idea of writing down the earth shattering ideas that are going to magically transform 2018 into the most productive year of my life. Since the list idea clearly isn’t an option, what next?

How or where will I write my ideas that will ensure they won’t disappear into that elusive place for homeless thoughts?

No Idea!

I haven’t quite figured that part out yet but I’m working on it.

One of the bright flashes of inspiration that lit up my otherwise dormant mind earlier today, was to incorporate the ideas into my blog. Since my website is relatively safe and secure, there isn’t too much risk of the great literary masterpieces slipping over the edge of reality into cyberspace, never to be seen again. And since the Blog Challenge is all about getting me into the habit of writing daily more frequently, the blog-full of goals should jump out and remind me to actually do something about them – hopefully.

So now that I have the ‘where to write them’ sorted out, I just have to work on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ to write. And that is best left for another day.

Watch This Space!

 

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 3 comments
Blog Post Challenge

Blog Post Challenge

The Pen Is Poised And The Gloves Are Off!

Let The Blog Post Challenge Begin

Today I signed up for a Blog Post Challenge – to post a blog each day of January. So, I’ve taken off the gloves, the virtual pen is poised, and I’m ready to write. Given that I’m already a few days behind, I either have to write fast to catch up, or resign myself to the fact that I’ve failed before I even begin. I’ll try the former but live with the latter if I have to.

Ready To Write…

It’s Personal

My idea of blogging is that it’s a personal thing, well, for me anyway. I don’t have a set theme for my blogs, apart from the majority of them just neatly slipping into a travel theme. But I like to think I’m a personal blogger – someone who just writes because it’s fun and it usually seems like a good idea at the time. So if you choose to follow me on this quest, don’t expect miracles because there won’t be any. I’ll just be plodding along, building up my mental muscles and stretching my creative biceps as I go.

Inspiration?

When I travel, my blog is filled with photos, held together with the memories of being there. Inspiration comes easy when you have stood in front of the magnificence of the Taj Mahal, or the splendour of the Bund and Shanghai Harbour at night.

Standing in front of the Taj Mahal

The Bund – Shanghai

Or ‘No Idea’?

When I am not travelling, my blog is interspersed with silent pauses as I sit in silence, wondering what the heck to write about.

My day usually starts with a ritual coffee on the verandah to ease into the morning, and continues with nothing more exciting than a trip to the mailbox.

So dear followers, if you are subjected to a flowery description of the path leading to the mailbox, you’ll know I’m home from whatever exotic island I’ve recently travelled to, and I have no idea where the next inspiring thought will come from. And this is indeed the blog post challenge.

The path to the mailbox

Time Will Tell

One my favourite songs by Air Supply is ‘Making Love Out Of Nothing At All’. Now let’s see how I go making a story out of nothing at all. Can I create a gripping read out of something as mundane as opening the mailbox? Will I post a blog a day with the Blog Post Challenge? Only time will tell.

Given that I’m already a few days behind, I either have to write fast to catch up, or resign myself to the fact that I’ve failed before I even start. I’ll try the former but live with the latter if I have to.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
China – The Good, The Bad And The WOW!!

China – The Good, The Bad And The WOW!!

Reminiscing – The China Trip – October 2016

Let’s start with the bad

Days on the China trip were filled with great activities, and tours were not to be missed. The very clever organisers (Thanks, Julie and Suzy!) had planned alternating  ‘chill-out’, and ‘out-and-about’ days that provided just the right amount of rest, in between hectic tours. But the one thing that put a damper on our travels, whether it was an ‘in’ or ‘out’ day, was the weather.

Great Weather For Ducks…

It rained! And it rained. And it rained. Not enough to stop us from doing anything, but enough to cover a lot of the photos I took with ‘drops’. Some photos would have been fantastic – if you could have seen through the raindrops on the window of the bus, which is where I took most photos from. There wasn’t enough time to stop for photos at every bridge or building along the way, so I had to rely on my iPhone camera to capture moments as we sped by. This usually worked, but not when the windows were covered in raindrops.

The colours of Shanghai shone through the rainy night

Shanghai, through a rain misted window

But I learned a lot about umbrellas and weatherproof jackets on that trip. Did you know that Starbucks at Zhujiajiao have little bags to put your wet umbrella in? It beats the heck out of water dripping all over the floor because you don’t want to leave your favourite (or only) brolly in the container at the door.

Now That The Bad Is Out Of The Way, Let’s Move On To The Good

Our first big excursion was from Shanghai to Nanjing on the Bullet Train. Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu Province and is also known as the Southern Capital, with Beijing being the Northern Capital. The replica of one of Admiral Zheng He’s Treasure Ships, reportedly built in the 15th Century, was amazing. The beauty of the wooden structure conjured up images of ancient seafarers travelling the high seas, risking life and limb. I wonder what they would think of the luxury liners we travel on now?

Sailors must have been brave - back then

A replica of the 15th Century ship

Replica of the 15th Century ship

As old as it is, the design is still beautiful

Shanghai City

Another big day out turned into three big days (and two nights). Shanghai is a big city! There are more people living there than in the whole of Australia (2016).  We didn’t meet them all, but we felt like we’d seen most of them. They were driving on the highways. Nearly all of them! Well, it certainly felt that way as we made our way slowly through the traffic.

The population of Shanghai is higher than Australia in 2016

It was a slow trip through Shanghai traffic

Our accommodation for two nights, while exploring Shanghai, was at the Radisson Blu, a seriously nice hotel. The famous Bund was not far away and a coach was at our disposal to get us around the city, which is just as well because it rained!

Shopping Vs The Harbour

I’d heard the shopping was good at the Bund and was looking forward to checking it out, but we sacrificed shopping for a spectacular view of the harbour at night. The view was the better deal because the rain held off long enough for some great photos.

Window shopping in Shanghai

Shopping in Shanghai was sacrificed for a view of the Harbour by night

The colours of Shanghai Harbour light up the darkness of the night

The lights from Shanghai Harbour on an overcast night

And Now For The WOW!!

One of the highlights of the trip was a day in Suzhou, one of the most popular tourist towns in China. I thought that Zhujiajou was spectacular, but Suzhou was even more so.  A boat ride along the canals of this ancient town exceeded any expectations I had of what China had to offer. It was like looking over the back fences of the neighbourhood. Seeing locals going about their daily chores; kids waving from the pier; barges hauling their cargo. There is no better way to get up close and personal with Chinese culture than skimming past their back door on a boat. It was magic!

Water Towns of China are a must-see

We drifted slowly by the homes of local people

One of the Water Towns of China

One of the canals in Suzhou

There are eight significant Water Towns in China and my Travel Bucket List now includes visiting each one of them. But that’s another adventure, for another time.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 3 comments