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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!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments

The L to R of Windows and Doors

Sign Post to Linton

Linton

Sorting photos from A-Z makes sense, and now that A to K is done – L to R is next.  The L to R of windows and doors provides a link to the past; to days gone by when my feet weren’t so deeply planted on home soil. Back then I would pack up and go someplace new, on nothing more than a whim. Now I sit here and wonder what happened to that carefree attitude? Oh well, back to sorting thousands of photos alphabetically. 

L is for Linton, a quaint little village 30 kilometres south-west of Ballarat, Victoria, and the home of my BFF (that’s, Best Friend Forever). When I visited my BFF last year we went for a long walk around her ‘hood. As often happens when I’m travelling, I stop to say hello to someone or make a comment about something, and suddenly I’m engrossed in a deep conversation.

It happened.

As we were walking past a house with a verandah  (I love verandahs!), I stopped to take a photo. A lady walked towards us and I couldn’t resist commenting on how beautiful the cottage was. I soon discovered that I was talking to the owner of this little piece of history, aptly named ‘Peacock Cottage’.

Local Linton Artist

Pam Farey is a local artist who bought Peacock Cottage and transformed it into a beautiful gallery of her work.  My BFF and I were lucky enough to be invited in for a guided tour of Pam’s incredible Artwork, and the beautiful windows and doors of Peacock Cottage.

Looking out the front door of Peacock Cottage with a stained glass window on the right side
Looking out from the inside of this beautiful door and window

From L to M

M is for Miami, Florida. While I was in Miami in 2016, I was flabbergasted by the beauty of the lights from the buildings, lighting up the night sky and the water. 

Buildings in Miami Florida lit up at night with the light shining on the harbour


M is also for Melbourne, voted the most livable city in the world for seven consecutive years, up to (and including) 2017. Don’t worry Melbournites, the score didn’t drop by much in 2018 (depending on which survey you look at).  

This fabulous door in Melbourne was just begging to be photographed. It looks so old and mysterious.

You could easily let your imagination conjure up a fabulous story about this door…. hmmm, that might just be a story in the making. 

A green door with studded panels and decorative hardware

And on to N…

N is for Noe Valley, San Francisco, one of my favourite places, where bay windows abound. Noe Valley has more than its share of buildings that resemble the Painted Ladies that feature on postcards of San Francisco. Donut and Bagel shops are on almost every corner, and anyone who knows me well knows I can’t resist donuts or bagels. Or coffee, milkshakes, chocolate (but that’s another story). Looking back on the photos of Noe Valley brings back memories of happier days, in what seems like a lifetime ago, but, life goes on…

Street scene in Noe Valley with bay window above a donut shop
Church & 24th Noe Valley

N is also for New Delhi

Arches and unusual shapes highlight the windows in this building. Most of my photos are taken from the window of a moving vehicle, and this photo is no exception. I wish I had been able to take a closer, better photo, but at least I got this much. 

Building in New Delhi with rectangle and arched windows

O is for?

O Well, O could be for a lot of places – but none that I have any photos of. I’m going to have to use a little creative licence with O, and talk about a building that starts with the letter ‘O’. 

Inside Old Melbourne Gaol with cell doors each side and skylights above.
Old Melbourne Gaol

The Old Melbourne Gaol (yes, in Melbourne) is now a popular tourist attraction.

As you wander in and out of the open doors, you can read the story of an inmate who called that particular cell – home – often for a very long time.

As Aussies, we all know the story of Ned Kelly and his gang. It seems that old-mate Ned drew his last breath right here in the Old Melbourne Gaol, in November 1880. Even though he was a notorious Bushranger, Ned Kelly has become a bit of a hero in Australia.

Bullet-proof Vest

Right or wrong, Ned was an enterprising young lad and is best remembered for his iconic armour, designed to protect him from stray bullets. In the final showdown with the Constabulary at Glenrowan, Ned was wounded, but the rest of his gang were not so lucky and didn’t live to tell the story. Ned might have survived the shootout, but couldn’t escape his fate at the hands of the hangman at the Old Melbourne Gaol, on that eleventh day of November. 

From O to …. P

P P could be so many places, but it is especially Picton on the South Island of New Zealand. Ferries transport tourists and travellers from the North to the South Island (and back), arriving at Picton on the southbound journey.  

The Edwin Fox Maritime Museum building has windows and doors that tell of sailors coming and going, and travellers making their way to the south. From Picton, Christchurch is a (long) scenic drive away.

Windy? Are you kidding?

On this cold windy day, I was (not) patiently waiting for the ferry. After a fabulous weekend in Christchurch, it was time to return to Wellington, on the North Island. Windy is probably an understatement of the weather conditions that day. The ferry was delayed because of the almost hurricane strength winds that closed Wellington Airport for hours. So we waited, and waited, and waited…

We finally left Picton for the journey north and arrived safely, albeit very late.

Museum building in Picton with water in front

And on the other side of the world?

P is for Pike Place, Seattle, and no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Pike Place Market. When I was in College, a long time ago, we were shown a training video of the fish market on Pike Place. Watching the fishmongers throw the fish to each other and engaging with customers, I figured one day I would go there and see that. Yes, I was at College studying to be a teacher, and No, the video wasn’t suggesting we throw students to each other!

My trip to Seattle in December 2017 was the second time I was witness to the antics of the famous fish market. The first time was in 2005 – but Seattle is such a beautiful place – I couldn’t resist going back again. 

While not exactly a window or door, the photos above are an indulgence to my memory of the fabulous Pike Place Market. 

Did someone say coffee?

A more significant door on Pike Place, well – for me anyway, is the door leading into the original Starbucks. And yes, I did go through the door, and I did have my favourite coffee in that very special Starbucks. Of course, I couldn’t leave without buying a mug to add to my collection of coffee mugs from around the world.  

Window of Starbucks store in Pike Place Seattle
This is where it all began 

A Starbucks on every corner…

I spent a lot of time in North America in 2005 and 2006, and somehow Starbucks featured heavily in significant decisions being made at the time. The fact that there seemed to be a Starbucks on every corner probably contributed to the statistics of that happening. The morning ritual for two years was first a coffee (at Starbucks), and then the day could begin. Well I guess not a lot has changed since then – my day still starts with coffee – just not a Starbucks. And that’s mainly because we don’t have a Starbucks on any corner here in Murwillumbah. But also because my trusty Rocket Giotto and Dancing Bean coffee beans make a mighty fine cup of Joe, right here at home. Bellissimo!

With P done and dusted, it is on to …

Q

Q is for Queensland, and I have spent a large part of my life in that sunny state. With so many miles of golden sand and surf, I seem to be lacking in the windows and doors department of my Queensland photo collections. Well, apart from the ones I highlighted in the A-E of Windows and Doors in an earlier post. 

Queensland by Night

Since Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, I think it is appropriate to add another Brisbane photo. Besides, the building is kind of at the top of the Queen Street Mall, and Queen starts with Q, right?.

I’m always in awe of the colours that light up the walls of the Treasury Casino Brisbane, at night. From my vantage point on the Victoria Bridge, one cold night in July, I was able to capture the beauty of these doors and windows. 

Treasury Casino at night with red lights showing up the doors and windows

Meanwhile, back in the US of A

R – R is for Rainier Beach, Seattle. When I think of doorways in Rainier Beach, there’s one that I would walk through every day of every week, if only I could. And that door is the door that leads into the Redwing Cafe  – my favourite place for coffee and avocado toast in Seattle. 

Front of Redwing Cafe in Seattle with Christmas decorations in the window

The photo I took doesn’t do justice to the entrance of my caffeine-haven for more days than I counted. If Redwing Cafe was open – I was there. When I stepped inside I was welcomed by friendly faces that were more than just baristas and chefs. A cafe can be popular for the food, or the coffee, or the friendly staff; Redwing is special because of all three –  oh, and the handcarved timber decor, which is spectacular, and beautifully carved by Shawn.

I bought the Redwing Cafe T.Shirt!

I’m so glad I bought the Redwing t.shirt. Every time I wear it I’m reminded of the place that was the highlight of my trip to Seattle. Seattle is full of iconic places, including the Space Needle and Pike Place Markets, but it is the beauty of the people you meet that really stands out. Anthony, Su, and your amazing Redwing Cafe team (and Jennifer, Shawn and Jackson) – I miss you all!

Organinsing photos isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve  completed A to E; F to K; and now the L to R of windows and doors. All I have to do now is sort out the S to Z, and I’m all done. 

Easy!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments

On That Dark, Dreary Day

The air was frosty cold on that dark, dreary day in Seattle. Like most days, the first decision centred on coffee – the where, not the when. From that decision, all other decisions would follow. 

It was Monday. Had it been any other day, the decision would have centred on the when, not the where. On Mondays, the RedWing cafe was closed. On this Monday, the where led to another place – another suburb. 

Walk to the end of the block on 63rd Avenue – turn right – walk another block – turn left – cross the street. Wait at the Bus Stop. Watch cars passing, thankful for the warmth of a coat that is redundant back home in northern New South Wales. Wait for the bus.

The bus stops – you board the bus and feel the instant warmth from the heated interior. You wish for a traffic jam – anything to delay the inevitable moment of reaching your destination and facing the cold.

Change buses at the Interchange. The cold bites at your heels as you walk to the bus that will take you the rest of the way. Again, the warmth of the bus, albeit short-lived. Only a few stops this time. 

Then, the coffee. Starbucks. Because you know what to order at Starbucks. You know how it will taste. You slowly drink your coffee. But you are not ready to face the cold, so you order another coffee.

You watch the people. The young couple with the four-year-old – Grandparents arrive – they go through the motions. Grandpa wants to be somewhere else. The College student staring at the screen of his laptop, looking for inspiration. People come and go. You stay, until you can’t justify staying any longer. The morning coffee has dragged on. It is almost lunch time.

Put on your coat – leave the warmth – brave the cold. 

Take the bus back to the Interchange; find the bus to Rainier Beach. Feel the warmth of the heated interior.

Leave the bus, turn right and walk to the corner where the solar-powered flamingos stand – waiting to illuminate the path at night. You wonder how solar power works in that climate.

Turn left and walk along 63rd Avenue. Feel the cold, but embrace the experience.

Home – where all other decisions can now be made, on that dark, dreary day in Seattle.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments
My Annus Horribilis!

My Annus Horribilis!

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth II dragged a Latin phrase out of antiquity, and gave it modern prominence. I remember the speech well. When the Queen uttered the seemingly inoccuous Latin phrase, snickers (I mean – the smothered laugh variety – nothing to do with chocolate) went up simultaneously around the world. Did she just say Annus? Oh, wait, that’s Annus, with two n’s – right – got it. Given the events of that year, Queen Elizabeth had certainly endured her annus horribilis – or, ‘worst year’. My annus horribilis usurped almost all of 2010. Certainly not for the same reasons as the reigning Monarch’s annus horribilus, but just as horrible.

 

Horribilis or Mirabilis?

The year started okay, but took a steep nose-dive somewhere around the middle. I can’t account for how, when, or why, but it deteriorated rapidly.

While the ‘Annus Horribilis’ was unfolding, I kept thinking, “Something good will come out of this”. It became my Mantra. But while I was stuck in the middle of the ‘horrible-ness’ of the year, I struggled to really believe any good would come of it, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself.

I guess we all have bad days, but when a whole year falls apart at the seams, you know you have to do something different.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I packed up my car and drove

I left the city behind, and headed North-West. Away from the surf, sand, and Starbucks; the busy shopping centres and growing trend of ‘chocolate’ cafes, and from the friends I’d hung out with.

But not before kicking 2010 out, and welcoming 2011 in, with open arms. I don’t normally celebrate New Year’s Eve, but I did that year. I booked into a hotel in Brisbane, and watched the clock strike midnight over the Brisbane River, with fireworks lighting up the night sky and the water. As 2010 rolled out to sea, 2011 beamed over the horizon, and I knew things would be different that year.

A long way from home

Isolated – compared to the city I left behind – and yet surrounded by amazing people.

My sojourn in the bush began in January 2011 and was meant to last for six months, but six months turned into five years. Five years of isolation – time to reflect and grow; it’s amazing how strong you can be when you have to. And it’s amazing how your annus mirabilis can emerge out of the toughest moments.

The place that I was to call home for five years had no sand, or surf; no shopping centres full of trendy shops; none of the friends that I used to hang out with. And it was a four-hour round-trip to anything that even remotely resembled a city, or a Starbucks. But I loved every minute of being there. My annus mirabilis lasted the whole five years in that quiet little region.

Time to watch the grass grow

Going from a busy city to a small town gave me perspective – I found out what peace sounds like. When you are immersed in city life, you rarely stop to think about any other existence. The hustle and bustle of a metropolis keep propelling you forward, and you think there is no other way to live. And then you sit on your verandah, in a town of less than 2000 people, and listen to the grass grow outside your door. It is then you realise there are two sides: the noisy and the quiet – the busy and the slow – the near and the far.

After five years of the quiet, I needed the noisy – but not the noisy I had left behind. I wanted something in-between. The not so near, and the not so fast.

I found it in Murwillumbah, where I have the best of both worlds. The not so far, the not so quiet, and the not so slow, is right here in my own backyard.

A thirty minute drive to the busy and the noisy is easy when I want to be immersed in all the Gold Coast has to offer, including the sea, the sand and the Starbucks.

Now I am content to sit on my verandah and hear the muffled sounds of life around me – not the sounds of constant traffic – or the grass growing. Just the peaceful sounds of life – not intrusive – just there.

 My annus horribilis is a distant memory and has never been repeated. Now, every year is an annus mirabilis; each one gently rolls over to make way for the next great year.

Life in Paradise just keeps getting better.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments