Weekly photo challenge: Unusual

Back in May I blogged about a new sculpture that was set in place on Anzac Parade in Canberra as a memorial for the Boer War in South Africa (1899 – 1902). Before the official opening, the sculpture was covered in black plastic, or rather the sculptures, all four of them. It was a weird sight, especially at dusk and in the evening. The sculptures were covered for a couple of weeks, and looked like this:

Is it unusual to cover a sculpture in black plastic before a big reveal?

At last at the end of May the plastic was removed and now we have this magnificent arrangement to admire as we drive or walk past:

The sculptor, Louis Laumen, created four bronze riders and horses that for all the world appear to actually be riding out from the gum trees and down the slope towards the road. From a distance they look life-size but they’re actually larger than life. A short path at the back lets us walk around the entire group and touch the horses and riders.

Thanks to Lignum Draco for posting this photo challenge on WordPress.

One trip EVERY month: November

This month I spent a weekend at Barlings Beach on the south coast of New South Wales, named after the Barling family who have been in the area since 1852.  That’s a long time in Australia’s books.

On the way I saw an ex-church which has been here almost as long;  the sign high above the door says 1855.  The church now appears to be inhabited by free spirits.  I was bold and brave and took photos of it, though I’m not sure I would have knocked on the door to ask for directions.Ex-church front

I don’t know if anyone was inside peering out, but as I wandered down the street and looked in the left hand window, something was looking back at me.

ex-church window

At Barlings Beach the air was dry and hot, and it felt good to be hotter than I’ve been since last summer.  But this was no paradise, the sky overcast with dark blue clouds, the water green and waveless.  Strange, but last time I was at this beach there was surf.   And here and there, a few dead birds lay half-buried in the sand.  I’ve read that they are short-tailed shearwaters, a type of muttonbird, that fly thousands of kilometres from the Arctic to arrive on the east coast of Australia at the start of summer.  The long trek is too much for many of them.

Barlings storm approaching

Only one man was swimming.  My husband.  (No photo.)  Another man was fishing, wetting his line really, while the women, who had been fishing from their esky seats, declared it a waste of time and settled down for a chat.

women on eskies

Another woman seemed to be wondering why the water was so flat.  Was there something in the green murk that she couldn’t see?  Only a few days before, a surfer had been bitten by a shark in waist-deep water at another beach up the coast.  Knee-deep was a safe depth.

what's under the water?

The rainless windstorm came and the temperature plummeted by 15 degrees.  The wind blew itself out and the waves rolled in again.  Later in the afternoon as I walked on the shore, I couldn’t believe it was the same beach as a few hours before.

Barlings after the storm

Next morning, paradise had returned, and I walked to the rock platform that goes out to Barlings Island.  When the tide’s low it’s possible to walk over to it on the rocks.  The island is a significant Aboriginal heritage area associated with traditional laws and customs.  It’s excellent for snorkelling, to see fish swimming through a giant underwater kelp forest.

Barlings Island

On the way home, at a small beach called Mosquito Bay, I was standing on the boat ramp wondering how boats would survive a launching over the rocky bottom, when something moved around and over the ramp base.  See the black part above the water?

Smooth Ray on boat ramp

It was a stingray, a Smooth Ray, according to the notice at the top of the ramp warning us not to harm them.  I frequently walk in the edge-water, sometimes up to my knees, but this time I’d stayed on dry land.  Wasn’t I happy about that!  The blown-up photo in the header of this post shows the ray’s long sting, almost as scary as a flying celluloid doll in a church window.

Smooth Ray Mosquito Bay

It was another good trip away, another weekend of nature-watching.  And, even better, people-watching.

Thanks again Marianne for the suggestion to take one trip EVERY month.  Only one 2014 month to go, one 2014 trip to take.



This is an inviting house tucked away on a hill in Port-Vendres, France.  Check out the tricky second entrance, up the ladder.

Multicoloured wall, Port-Vendres, France
Multicoloured wall, Port-Vendres, France

At the left of the house is a gate surrounded by multicoloured mosaics on both sides. Here’s one side:

Mosaic gate, Port-Vendres, France
Mosaic gate, Port-Vendres, France

Take a look, too, at Ailsa’s travel photos, especially the multicoloured hot springs.  Totally awesome.  She proposed the multicoloured theme this week.

366 unusual things: days 364 – 366

29th Dec – Ten boxes of chocolates and biscuits, Christmas gifts, are stacked in a tower in my kitchen.

30th Dec – Heard in a sermon that 560 French and German churches have closed in the last decade and, now they are empty, many are being converted into mosques.

31st Dec – Today is a bonus day after the 365th.  The last unusual thing.

366 unusual things: days 359 – 363

24th Dec – One of the worst offenders from the Housing flats (he’s just been evicted) spoke to me for the first time when I ran into him in the fruit shop. He wished me a Merry Christmas.

25th Dec – Went outside to breathe in this fresh Christmas morning and heard a deep male voice in the distance calling “Ho, ho, ho!”.

26th Dec – Found out that ‘organised’ has another meaning; it can mean ‘made into a living being’, that is, composed of organs.

27th Dec – Passed two road signs on a mountain:  “Uncoupling zone” 🙁 and “Coupling zone” 🙂 (for truck drivers about to descend the steep and winding road).

28th Dec – Was having morning tea at my local café when the garbage truck, which had just emptied my bin, parked outside. Two hairy garbage men sat at the table next to mine, upwind of me.

366 unusual things: days 354 – 358

19th Dec – My son cooked dinner for the six of us in his apartment.  It’s his 24th birthday but he spoilt us.

20th Dec – In my household, 4 things have an imperfection in their 4th working part:
One leg has rusted off my fashionably pre-rusted outdoor table;
One of four glass feet on a blue heirloom vase broke off and rejects the strongest glue;
Our dog’s fourth leg hangs limply since he broke a ligament;
One candle on a German Christmas carousel burns out before the other three.  But here it is, running on 4 pistons:

Christmas merry-go-round

21st Dec – Received an email from a publisher’s employee with the Dickensian name of Robert Puffett.

22nd Dec – On a shady bench in the Sculpture Garden, away from visitor paths, I read my translation aloud into a recorder.

23rd Dec – At 7 am as I wandered in the garden, bees buzzed about my ears and eyes.  I looked up into the fig tree and saw and heard a swarm of them gathering sweet sticky honeydew left by a plague of aphids.

366 unusual things: days 349 – 353

14th Dec – One of my students said today after our last lesson, ‘I’ll miss you’.  This is unusual for me.

15th Dec – Watched a six-year old write in cursive, something most older children and young adults can’t do these days.

16th Dec – Saw the word ‘themself’ in the latest translation of Les Misérables.  If the translator wrote it (eek!) then why didn’t the editor fix it?  Do they both think it’s a word?

17th Dec – Taught a student last week how to crochet triangles and today I was going to teach her how to join them together.  But she turned up with a whole bag made from them.  Left me standing in the dust cloud.

18th Dec – Saw some bugs that like only white things (they used to gather in hundreds on my white washing).  Last night they were asleep in a huddle on my white hydrangea.  Dreaming of a white Christmas…  This morning they were awake and working.

Bugs asleep in the hydrangea flower
Bugs asleep in the hydrangea flower
Bugs awake and working on hydrangea flower
Bugs awake and working on hydrangea flower

366 unusual things: days 344 – 348

9th Dec – My son told me he hides in car boots to get into places…  He reminded me that my grandfather was a stowaway on a ship going to the First World War.

10th Dec – To sell their house, our neighbours got rid of their chickens, and now a small tree grows where they used to run.  Something on a branch hanging on my side of the fence caught my eye – cherries!

11th Dec – Read two articles by professional translators, one grumbling about dogs and their owners, another who can’t work without his dog beside him.

12th Dec – Walked into a friend’s study and was confronted by a dress hanging beside the door, a 1920s apricot lace dress with a satin hip sash and bow that she’d bought in a 2nd-hand shop.  While we sat talking, the handle of the door turned, the door opened a fraction and closed again, the handle turned back.  She assured me it was air movement and that it wasn’t the woman coming to claim her dress.

13th Dec – Put on a lip balm called Baby Lips;  my lips swelled outside and in, like an allergic reaction. I think that was the cosmetic plan, to puff them up like a baby’s.

366 unusual things: days 339 – 343

4th Dec – My 40-year-old Chinese student doesn’t know where Israel is, and has never heard of it.

5th Dec – My 12-year-old Cambodian student prefers to write left-handed but in Cambodia it wasn’t allowed.

6th Dec – I tutor a primary school student who asked me if tutor is spelt like shooter.  She formed her hand into a gun and shot.  I assured her they are spelt quite differently.

7th Dec – Sitting in the new café at the National Archives, I listened to public servants placing orders:  double-shot small latte, normal small latte, soy flat white, weak cappuccino, double-shot cappuccino.  No one actually ordered coffee.  Not even me.  I had tea.

8th Dec – On a hot road, I saw reflections of passing cars in mirages.

366 unusual things: days 334 – 338

29th Nov – In a post office I was waiting for quite some time in front of this poster. It left me wondering about the water source.FluPoster_cropped

30th Nov – Started learning Spanish online.  Now I understand why a printed j sounds like h.  Like San Jose.

1st Dec – Out of 30 people at a literacy lecture, two were men;  one was wiry, white-haired, long-retired, the other was young, robust and black.  The rest of us were middle-aged white women.

2nd Dec – At a ‘hipster’ market, some old half-life-size statues of Jesus and angels were for sale to ‘hip’ home decorators.  They looked like church plunder.

3rd Dec – Listened to a radio program about flies; apparently they will provide us with new antibiotics in about ten years.