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By Dahni
© 2017, all rights reserved


Stuffed? Stuffed with stuffing? Why yes, but so much the more! 🙂

Stuffed with information about how we came to celebrate Thanksgiving, what the first one was really like hundreds of years ago or what is really wasn’t like.

Stuffed with customs and traditions.

Stuffed with a measure of tired to you and they, depending on how far the distance traveled, the manner of transport and how long it takes to arrive.

Stuffed with the excitement and anticipation of, “Can’t wait for this day to come,” “Can’t wait to get there,” or “Can’t wait, for them to get here!”

Stuffed with the real possibility that you, “Can’t wait to go home,” or “You can’t wait, for everyone to leave!” 🙂

Stuffed with ‘catch-up’ since the last time together.

Stuffed with so much to stuff in and so little time, celebrating ‘long time no see,’ fall, Thanksgiving, birthdays and even Christmas too, early.

Stuffed with joy and perhaps, some trepidation from meeting new folks or some concern over how they find you and will remember you from the first impression you make.

Stuffed with nasal blockage, upper respiratory breathing restraints, colds, headaches, pains, strains, prescriptions and the need for perhaps more.

Stuffed with care and concern, empathy and sorrow over those that cannot be with you.

Stuffed with care and concern with all the things left behind that need to be resolved.

Stuffed with stuffing and all manner of culinary delights.

Stuffed with so much work and hours to make such a feast and preparations and accommodations that are devoured and messed up in mere minutes, and forgotten in even less time.

Stuffed with wonder at conversations from: “Where’s the gravy,” “Pass the potatoes,” “What time is the game on,” to all but total disengagement, nap time (The tryptophan effect), and texting one another from device to device while sitting right next to each other.

Stuffed with wonder at, “Why do we do this,” (all this work and effort), when there is a Denny’s, open 24/7, somewhere down the street or close by, with no dishes to wash or mess to clean up.

Stuffed with Thanksgiving, ThanksLiving and thankfulness.

Stuffed with even more wonder at being thankful to any degree for all one has to midnight of the new Friday, where so many rush and pull and push and knock down each other for all they perceive they do not have and must have before it’s too late.

Stuffed with despite it all and because of it all, thanks, for my favorite holiday and with anticipation and hope, for, “Can’t wait to do it all again!”

Stuffed with long or short goodbye, farewell until next time!

Stuffed with so much stuff, I’m just stuffed!

Stuffed with tired and into some easy chair of comfort wrapped snug in a blanket of love and joy and thanks.

Stuffed with peace and reflection at the afterglow of hearth fire and heart fire of memories, awaiting all these calories of a full and grateful life, for when I can get stuffed again!

Happy ThanksLiving, One and All!

Afterglow. A nice fire for your Thanksgiving! Gather yall’  🙂

The Gathering Place,


Categories: Entertainment, Family & Friends, Inspiration, The Gathering Place, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: On Our Way Home

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Ok, by the time you read this say 10:00 AM eastern standard time (EST), May 1st, 2014, we have already lived through that and will likely have to again, on our way back home. What we gained from going into the future, I guess we lose coming back into the past. But perhaps if we lived a day ahead of our life expectancy then came back, is it a wash? I guess we will just live as long as we’re gonna’ live. But what will ‘jet lag’ be like at home? Well, we’re on our way to finding out.

But, just in case you ask or are curious, which country did we like better, Japan or Australia? Well, the question is like comparing apples to oranges. We not only visited two counties, (4) kids (OK they are adults), two in Japan and two in Australia, but two new grand babies too. There is no comparison. They are all different and WE LOVE THEM ALL!!! 🙂

Japan - "The Land of the Rising Sun" & Australia - "The Land Down Under"

Japan – “The Land of the Rising Sun” & Australia – “The Land Down Under”











'Land of the Rising Sun' - JAPAN

‘Land of the Rising Sun’ – JAPAN

'The Land Down Under' - AUSTRAILA

‘The Land Down Under’ – AUSTRAILA

Blue Mountains in Japan

Blue Mountains in Japan

Blue Mountains in Australia

Blue Mountains in Australia


On Our Way Home!

On Our Way Home!

Luv Yah!! :) Dahni & Susan

Luv Yah!! 🙂
Donnie & Susan

Categories: Australia, Blue Mountains, Family & Friends, Homeward Bound, Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, Missing You, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: The Land of Oz

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Today to you in the west is the 30th of April, 2014. Our last full day in Australia was on the 29th. The day before (4/28/14), we finally made it to the ocean. So for today’s post, even though we are already in Japan, spending the night and leaving for home on May 1st, I wanted to share some last minute OZ’ stuff with you. Most native Aussies pronounce Australia as, OZ- tralia.We have in many ways, felt like we have been in the land of OZ! 🙂

It's a BIG country

It’s a BIG country

But Australia is not only a country comprised of six states and two territories, it is also, a continent. We have never left the huge state of New South Wales. Not only have we not seen the rest of this beautiful and interesting country, we have not even scratched the surface of New South Wales!

We spent most of our time with family at their home in Camden, NSW, Australia. I personally, fell in love with this wonderful community! We went to Sydney, NSW, a couple of times, went to the Sydney Opera House, the Harbor area, downtown Sydney, the Chinese Friendship Garden, took a ferry boat ride to Toronga Zoo, and went to Sea World. Still, all of this is located in New South Wales. We rented a cottage for the weekend in Katoomba, New South Wales, in the Blue Mountains. On and on and so forth and even though we saw and experienced a lot in just over a month’s time, what do we really know about this wonderful country, not very much! And even though I took probably 1,000’s of pictures, if they all turn out and I shared them all with you, Australia has SO MUCH MORE to offer! And the same can be said of Japan as well!

But we made it to the ocean in Australia. And do you remember a few posts back while in Katoomba, NSW, I said we saw 100 or more sulfur crested cockatoos fly overhead? Perhaps you found that hard to believe, especially since there were no photos or videos to back up that claim.

I'm so pretty! Thanks for looking! HAVE A NICE DAY! :)

I’m so pretty! Thanks for looking! HAVE A NICE DAY! 🙂


Well, at the bottom of this post are two videos. 100 or so cockatoos flew over the home where we have been staying in, Camden, NSW, Australia. It was an early foggy morning with a little light rain. It was on our last full day here on 4/29/14. The videos show these same birds, perched in a couple of gum trees, in front of the house. Incredible, beautiful and NOISY! 🙂

The day before 4/28/14, we set out to see the ocean. The following unexpected road sign was seen while in route.

Koala Crossing

Koala Crossing

Road sign to the Ocean

Road sign on the way to the Ocean

We got to the ocean to Susan’s pure joy and delight! If I told you Susan loves the ocean, that would be an understatement, GREATLY UNDER-STATED!! 🙂

It was a nice drive there through some ‘bush’ of eucalyptus forests, past the koala crossing and with a gorgeous view of mountains until, we descended toward the beach. And there, was, a little sand path walk to the shore. It was a lovely cool day and a bit cloudy. It was definitely a remove-your-sandals-and-walk-barefoot-in-the-sand kind of day. There were huge barges and boats in the distance. Several surfers were out trying to, “catch some waves.” Jonathan and baby Felix, Susan and I walked and explored the beautiful beach and walked along the shoreline. But of course we rolled up our pant legs and dipped our feet in the water! It was wonderful! Susan and I collected a few shells to bring home and spied all kinds of washed-ashore plant life and a couple of little live creatures. One was a tiny hermit crab, walking with its shell still attached. There were large black rocks covered with barnacles. But after all is said and done, it’s all about the ocean!

Ocean I

Ocean I – our path to the beach

Ocean II

Ocean II

Ocean III

Ocean III

Ocean IV

Ocean IV

There was some driftwood and a huge chuck of timber that I pretended to be part of some shipreck that really did occur in this area in the late 1800’s. I found a little stick and, but of course, I had to write something in the sand!

With Love from Susan & Dahni on the beach in OZ-tralia :)

With Love from Susan & Dahni on the beach in OZ-tralia , 4/28/14 🙂

As our outing ended, I came back another way, up some stairs to a play area for kids, picnic area and public restrooms. They even had showers that I took advantage of and washed the sand from my feet, before putting my Keen sandals back on (And yes, brother Richard, my Keen’s stood up to sand, shore and salt-ocean-water. Our outing at the beach was short-lived, but WE LIVED! It was an appropriate one ending to our stay in Australia. Why did I use the words, “one ending?” Why, because, the very next morning, those 100 or so cockatoos from the Blue Mountains seemed to show up in Camden, (as if they followed us) and right in front of our house, JUST FOR YOU!!!! 🙂

But before this post ends and you see the little videos, we would like to take this time to thank all the wonderful Aussies, family and all our new friends that made this such a wonderful and memorable experience! Thank you one and all! We will never forget you! Missing you already! Guhday Mates and Maties or Sheilas! 🙂

Dahni in Susan

A Cockatoo Good Morning to You – Youutube video 1

If possible, watch this full screen and crank up the volume! 🙂

A Cockatoo Good Morning to You II – Youutube video 2

If possible, watch this full screen and crank up the volume! 🙂

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Birds of Australia, cockatoos, Entertainment, Family & Friends, Japan, Missing You, Ocean, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Visual Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Pretty & Cool III

by Donnie HAyden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Pretty & Cool or Pretty Cool Part III this

Ruby Slippers

Ruby Slippers

By the time you get this in the west around 10:00 AM there, it is around midnight of April 30th, and in just a few hours we will take a ride by car then catch a train to Sydney International Airport and we will be on our first flight back home, starting first with an overnight in Tokyo, Japan.

And the confusion or weirdness begins. For our long travel back from the future into the past begins. I am not looking forward to the long flights, time changes and the dreaded jet lag from passing back into yesterday, sixteen hours later when  we have already lived in your tomorrow. I’d love to click my heels three times and have it over.

As we leave The Land Down Under as many pronounce it here OZ-tralia, it does feel somewhat like we are not in “Kansas anymore,” like Dorothy said to Toto. Our time here has been wonderful, but as Dorothy also said to Toto…

"There's No Place Like Home!"

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

But until we get back to yesterday, today, it’s Pretty & Cool or Pretty Cool Part III! 🙂


Realy Cool Real Plant Arrangement Three Sisters Mall Store at Echo Point, Blue Mountains, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Beautiful Fruit-Like Berry Blossom, Belgenny Farm, Camden Park Estate, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Blue Somewhere in Australia 🙂


Pretty & Poisonous Toadstool under shrub at Entrance to Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Pretty Smiley Face Flower, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


A Bud, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Delicate Texture, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Black Swan, Indigenous to Australia, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Nature’s Fractals (Fern), Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Nature’s Fractal (Fern), Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Blue-Red, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Blue-Red, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Peacock, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Peacock, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Pink Hibiscus, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Little Flowering Tree, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia


Lilly Pad Flower, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia


White Gardenia, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia


Beautiful Rose, The Memorial Rose Garden, Camden, NSW, Australia


Susan, My Beautiful Rose in Front of Waterfall at, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia


Beautiful Rose Bud, The Rose Memorial Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Beautiful Lavender Rose, The Rose Memorial, Camden, NSW, Australia


The Money Tree, in a Park Outside of Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Little, Lily Pad Pond, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australai


Pretty-Cool Whatever it is, The Blue Mountains, Katoomba, NSW, Australia

Pretty Peaceful, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia

Pretty Little, Lily Pad Pond, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australai

Pretty Peaceful II, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Austraila

Pretty Peaceful III, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Austraila

Pretty Peaceful III, The Chinese Friendship Garden, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Austraila

Categories: Australia, Australian Life, Belgenny Farm, Birds of Australia, Birds of Paradise, Blue Mountains, Darling Harbor, Family & Friends, Flowers, Harbor Bridge, Homeward Bound, Inspiration, Japan, Katoomba, Missing You, Plants & Cool Stuff from Australia, Sydney, Taronga Zoo, The Chinese Friendship Garden, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On: Pretty & Cool II

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Pretty & Cool or Pretty Cool Part II

By 10:00 AM in NY (eastern standard time) today,April 28, 2014 it is midnight of the next day here in Australia (April 29th. Hopefully, I am asleep, for when we arise, it’s packing day, for tomorrow morning we will be leaving the ‘Land Down Under,’ for Japan, and our trip home.

So I, like Tooter Turtle  will call upon Mr. Wizard the Lizard to get us safely home.

Tooter Turtle (sometimes spelled Tudor or Tutor) was a cartoon about a turtle that first appeared on TV in 1960, as a segment, along with The Hunter a detective dog, as part of the King Leonardo and His Short Subjects program. “Tooter Turtle” debuted on NBC, on Saturday, October 15, 1960, and ran for 39 original episodes through July 22, 1961. These episodes were later rerun as backups on other cartoon shows,[1] but no more original episodes were made.

The plots followed the same general format. Tooter (voiced by Allen Swift) calls on his friend Mr. Wizard the Lizard (voiced by Sandy Becker), an anthropomorphic lizard wearing wizard cone hat, robe, and pince-nez eyeglasses. Mr. Wizard lived in a tiny cardboard box at the base of a tall tree. The introductory segment had Tooter knocking on the cardboard box, having “another favor to ask.” From inside the box, Mr. Wizard would shrink Tooter small enough to enter through the box’s front door, and invite him in. Mr. Wizard has the magic to change Tooter’s life to some other destiny, usually sending him back in time and to various locales.

Mr. Wizard sending Tooter Turtle somewhere in the past, present or future

Mr. Wizard sending Tooter Turtle somewhere in the past, present or future

Tooter Turtle being brought back

Tooter Turtle being brought back

As Tooter is doing his destiny, Mr. Wizard narrates about it. When Tooter’s trip finally became a catastrophe, Tooter would request help with a cry of “Help me Mr. Wizard, I don’t want to be X any more!” where X was whatever destiny Tooter had entered. Mr. Wizard would then rescue Tooter with the incantation, “Twizzle, Twazzle, Twozzle, Twome; time for this one to come home.” Then, Mr. Wizard would always give Tooter the same advice:

“Be just what you is, not what you is not. Those that do this are the happiest lot.” 

Source, Wikipedia:

Anyway, back to your present and ‘Pretty & Cool’ or Pretty Cool Part II


A Pretty ibis in an habitat reserve nearby


Bee & Lavender flower


Butterfly and Lavendar


Another Pretty, Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Cool flowers, Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Closeup of prety cool flower, Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Pink, Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


This pretty white flower looks like the tips of its petal were airbrushed pink., Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Lime Tree, Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Limes, Belgenny Farm, Camden Estate Park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Ducks, Habitat & Reserve in park, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Cool Window Display, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Cool Advice, on street outside store, Camden, NSW, Australia


Pretty Cool Display and sculpture made out of wood, inside store, Camden, NSW, Australia


Beautiful delicate little fragrant flower, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Bee and Yellow Flower, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Yellow Flower, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Pretty Pink Flowers on Fence Line, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Pretty Pink Flowers, Katoomba, NSW, Australia


Beautiful, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Beautiful, Downtown Sydney, NSW, Australia


Another Beautiful, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Categories: Australia, Australian Life, Belgenny Farm, Birds of Australia, Birds of Paradise, Blue Mountains, Camden, Darling Harbor, Family & Friends, Flowers, Harbor Bridge, Homeward Bound, Inspiration, Japan, Katoomba, Plants & Cool Stuff from Australia, Sydney, Taronga Zoo, The Chinese Friendship Garden, The Gathering Place, Travel, Uncategorized, Visual Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Pretty & Cool

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Pretty & Cool or Pretty Cool Part I

As you are waxing on your Sunday, our is waning in Australia. Soon it will be Monday here. We have only two days left until we leave early Wednesday for our flight to Tokyo, Japan on April 30th. After an overnight night there, we will take a flight to Chicago, IL, U.S.A. on May 1st, fly through yesterday and still arrive on May 1st, catch another plane and be in Rochester, NY around 2:15 PM est, on May 1st. Then it is about a 45 minute drive and we will be home!

This has been an incredible trip to Japan & Australia! There is so much from both countries I still want to share with you.

While still in Australia there was so much more I wanted to share, but the time fails me. I have taken thousands of pictures and many of them are acceptable to my very critical eye. But with the laptop I  have been using, problems with my camera, lack of software and other issues, I have been severely limited.

But there are places we went and things we did that I want to share and will, somehow in the future. Here is just a partial list of content I have not posted yet:

• Belgenny Farm (the birthplace of Australian agriculture)
• Out N’ About Sydney, Australia
• Beautiful sunrises and sunset
• Paddy’s Market (downtown Sydney shopping district
• More about Camden, Australia
• Our ferry boat ride in Darling Harbor, past the Sydney Opera House and underneath Harbor Bridge
• Susan’s & Caitlin’s High Tea
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
• Taronga Zoo (truly a world class zoo in Sydney. I have so many pictures of animals and we proabably only saw 1/3 of the zoo)
• And so much more!

So, I have loaded over 60 pictures of just what I call in the post, Pretty & Cool or you could also just think of these as pretty cool! 🙂 But these are pictures taken over the month that we have been in Australia. The are pictures of flowers and plants mostly found here. Most of these I do not not know their names are really much about them other than, there are just to me, Pretty & Cool! 🙂

So I will pre-schedule 3 posts for the next three days (including today) and post about 20 or so pictures for each day with some simple captions with descriptions.

If I get an opportunity to post anymore before we get home to The Gathering Place, I may? I will try and continue posting about our trip when we get home ASAP. But, we have much to do when we get home for the month of may and June, but I will do the best that I can, when I can.

Thank You for your patience and understanding.


A neighbor's tree on Little St., Camden, NSW, Australia

A neighbor’s tree on Little St., Camden, NSW, Australia


A rose of many The Rose Cottage, Camden, NSW, Australia


Camden, NSW, Australia


Camden, NSW, Australia


Bottle Brush Tree, Camden, NSW, Australia


Closeup of Bottle Brush Tree, Camden, NSW, Australia


Even after the colors fade, the Bottle Brush Tree is still interesting, Belgenny Farm, Camden Park Estate, Camden, NSW, Australia


Closeup of faded Bottle Brush Tree, Belgenny Farm, Camden Park Estate, Camden, NSW, Australia


Just another ‘Pretty,’ in Camden, NSW, Australia


Gorgeous Rose, Somewhere in Australia


Another ‘Pretty’ Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Bird of Paradise, Taronga Zoo, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Interesting hangy-downy-thingies somewhere on an Australian tree 🙂


A pretty lorikeet eating pretty red petals, right outside our living room window on Little Street, Camden, NSW, Australia


Closeup of pretty lorikeet eating pretty red petals, right outside our living room window on Little Street, Camden, NSW, Australia


This cactus at the end of the street, budded shortly after we got here. There must have been over a 100 buds. Only 1-2 blooms


Closeup of bloom and buds


The blooms only bloom once and only two buds blossomed and as of 4/26/14 this is how the cactus now looks


All the buds and 2 blooms disappeared. This little red I saw the morning of 4/26/14

Categories: Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Belgenny Farm, Birds of Australia, Birds of Paradise, Blue Mountains, Camden, Family & Friends, Harbor Bridge, Homeward Bound, Japan, Katoomba, Missing You, Plants & Cool Stuff from Australia, Sydney, Taronga Zoo, The Chinese Friendship Garden, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized, Visual Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Money

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Money? Yes! Let’s face it, we all like it and we all need at least some! And after almost 2 months abroad, we are running out of it. 🙂

Today, I thought I would share some pictures of local currency from Japan and Australia and compare these with what in my country have been referred to as “green backs,” ever since President Abraham Lincoln basically took over the banks in 1861. Ever since then, US currency has pretty much remained the same.

Oh sure, over the years since the 1800’s (probably always), there have been issues with counterfeit money or what some refer to as, “funny money.’ It’s really not so funny if you, businesses or the banks get caught holding it, but it’s “funny,” as in odd or not real.

One of the jobs of the same people that guard the president of our country and other dignitaries (the Secret Service), is investigation of counterfeit money.

The US Mint that is responsible for printing our dollars and minting our coins have introduced many anti-counterfeit measures over the years and especially since the technology of the digital press, scanners and computer software has made counterfeiting a state of art and can produce a lot of this “funny money” so close to the original that even many experts can be fooled into thinking it’s the real deal.

But again, and despite such techniques as micro printing, the insertion of encoded magnetic strips and other measures into US currency, it still pretty much looks the same, ever since the 1800’s. Oh sure, there are some newer presidents and signatures that are used, a special commemorative coin here and there once in awhile, but the flat stuff, the paper money is still basically green. Not until very recently, has any other color been used, other than green.

With all due respect to the skill of engravers that make the printing plates from which our money is printed and the coins are minted, the US is far behind the world, at least as far as my experience has been, in Japan and Australia. In short, the currency from these two countries is beautiful. They are works of art! I do not know how safe their currency is and how much of a problem in either of these two countries have with counterfeiting, but their money is impressive!

I want to thank my wife Susan for taking all these pictures below (except the one of US money that I copied from the Internet. Even though I stole these pictures from Japan and Australia from Susan, thanks Honey! 🙂

Let’s start with some money from Japan.

Currency from Japan (paper)

Currency from Japan (paper)

Japanese dollars are beautiful works of art and contain many colors. The common name is Yen. The multiple colored item in lower left corner of the paper money is, actually a holographic image, most likely used as an anti-counterfeiting measure, but it adds to its beauty.

Currency from Japan (coins)

Currency from Japan (coins)

Various coins from Japan are easy to distinguish by design and color of metal used, including the ‘Lucky coins’ with the hole in the center. Most products for sale including the appropriate tax is in rounded numbers. No one in Japan wants to deal with the 1 yen coin which is like a 1 cent coin in the US. The 100 yen was really beneficial to me as I could get a cup of coffee most of the time for 100 yen which is about $1 in US money. In the US we have the Dollar Stores for all kinds of inexpensive (cheap as crap stores), but both Susan and I love those stores! She is not allowed to shop in one brand name dollar store during the holidays, as it is my own personal stocking-stuffer store to stuff her stocking! 🙂

In Japan, they have the same kind of stores only these are called the 100 yen stores. Yes the stuff sold in a 100 yen store is inexpensive, but it’s not crap like the dollar stores usually are in the US.

Currency from Australia (paper)

Currency from Australia (paper)

The picture above is the front an back of the Australian 5 dollar bill. It too is a very beautiful work of art and shows the Queen of England. The newer paper currency has a colored transparent plastic window in each bill making it difficult to counterfeit. In fact, all the Australian dollars (new) are made out of plastic mostly, wear longer than paper and probably float on the water if you fall out of a boat while fishing. 🙂

Currency from Australia (coins)

Currency from Australia (coins)

The coin top left is a heavy coin with cut edges. It is the Australian 50 cent piece and is used in many sporting events in Australia to “toss the coin.” The brass 2 dollar coin is very valuable and preferred in Australia over most other coins. Like Japan, Australia usually price everything including tax in whole amounts. They do not like their 1 cent coins either.

Currency from The United States (paper)

Currency from The United States (paper)

Although I appreciate the pictures of our favorite and famous presidents, the skill of the engravers, the anti-counterfeit measures installed on and within the bills and even the attempt at adding some color, come on US, get with the world! Update your designs, add colors and make some beautiful works of art like the world has been doing or is and perhaps has been, for a very long time!

In fact, if you search online for the most beautiful currency and the safest currency (hardest to counterfeit), the US is not on any of the top lists! Why is this? Get with the world and quit making and thinking and charging in terms of cents. WE the people don’t like the 1 cent penny either. Round or make everything for sale including tax, in whole amounts.

Categories: Australia, Australian Life, Japan, Japanese culture, The Gathering Place, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Anzac Day

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Caveat lector – LATIN “Let the reader beware”

Dear Friends and Family,

This will be a very long post. I realize that you may have many things that you deem more important than reading my blog and because of the length of that to follow, this post, but I promise you that it will be well worth your time! Our purpose singularly, in visiting Japan and Australia was to meet two of our newest grandsons for the very first time and to be with family and friends we have not seen in a long time. It is like a vacation too and like an exploration to us, of the new and unknown. I try with all my ability to immerse myself in all that I do. Whether or not you believe me, I do this mostly, for you! In much that I do, I think, I must live live inside my head and within my heart and perhaps I should instead, just be living life. I think that I am living, but I just know of no other way to be, then who and what I am. I take things and feel things deeply and my sincerest hope for you in reading this post is that you will find something that moves you as deeply as it has and does. so moves me. Perhaps it will even change your life or transform it? It is for this purpose that I have written the following, as best that I know how. I have written it for you!!!

If I could wish and my wishes could come true, I’d wish I could type (keystroke) faster, think faster, think smarter, use less words, but capture exactly what I feel that you feel exactly what I try to write and that it may be understood by anyone!!!


Guhday mates from Dahni, your ANZAC Day guide

Guhday mates from Donnie, your ANZAC Day guide

On Friday April 25th, 2014, Australia, will commemorate the 99th year memorial of ANZAC Day.

Until quite recently, I had never heard of ANZAC Day. It has been an evolving rote (basic) understanding for me of not just the event of historical relevance, but its far-reaching significance to the world. As this is being written, the sun has already set here in Australia and I scramble to complete this post in time, for you of the West that will soon begin your sunrise on Friday.

We were informed of ANZAC Day by email from a family member, before we arrived in Australia. I thought there was some connection between the Netherlands and Australia, but I could not quite understand it. But there was a U.S. connection that I did understand and you will understand this as well, at the conclusion of this post and the video at the very end.

Then, I started to see that there was a connection between Australia and New Zealand, but it still, was unclear to me, what this was.

Then, we were downtown in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in Hyde Park. There, in this beautiful and massive park stands, the ANZAC Memorial.


ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia


That ANZAC Day is important to the Australians, is another public holiday, and not relative to me (or so I thought), was all becoming more clear to me.

I knew today was related to Gallipolli, war, April 25 and 1915 and this is about all I understood. In the United States we have Veterans Day and I thought it was just something unique to us as, ANZAC Day is to Australia and New Zealand. I still did not yet understand, the connections and associations and involvement of many people and many countries throughout the world, with this particular day.

I do understand and have great respect for honoring not the dead, but the purposes for which they loved, lived and died. I remember seeing my own countrymen spit on our own returning veterans from the Vietnam conflict. I use the word “conflict, on purpose, for it was never declared a war by my government. This seems to be an all too often ploy, to conduct, for all practical purposes, war without having the US Congress involved, in declaring it so. I understand that many of our returning service men and women were treated poorly, because of the nation’s vehement desire to protest it; were against it and unfortunately, those that got caught in the crossfire by many of us, WE the People, were our own people; our own brothers and sisters; our service men and women! Things have changed since then. There is more respect bestowed, more honor given and it is all, more than deserved and far, far less, than they deserve! After all, because of men and women like these the world over, every country to some degree or another, enjoys the liberty, the freedoms, the prosperity and the peace that we all do. I understand the simple act of recognizing one who has served or is serving by saying, THANK YOU, and shaking their hand!” If not for such as these, the world in its entirety, would be in slavery, in bondage and not know liberty!

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

On Thursday night April 24th, 2014, I was walking through the downtown area of Camden, New South Wales, Australia. I went into a local clothing store called, ‘The Looking Class.’ I was surprised to find them open at this hour, but was later informed that Thursday nights are a normal time to shop here and most stores would be closed the next day, on Friday due to the holiday.

My purpose in stopping there was to thank them for trying to locate an Akurbra hat for me, which I later found in Katoomba, NSW, Australia, during our visit to the Blue Mountains. I also wanted to ask if there was a special brush I could purchase from them to keep my hat clean. And, having nearly had my hat blown off my head by the wind here, I was curious as to a solution to prevent this from happening in the future. Though the wind was slight and more than I had previously or since experienced while in Australia, where we live on top of a hill in Macedon, New York, in the United States of America, the winds can be quite fierce and on a regular basis.  I do not want to lose my hat!

The owner and his wife were both present and I thanked them, for their efforts in trying to locate a ‘Coolibah,’ Akurbra, in my size and asked my questions. Bob promptly showed me a leather chinstrap made of Kangaroo hide and made in Australia. He promised that if I brought in my hat, he would install the strap for me at no charge, even though I did not purchase my hat from them.

We chatted about many things, my impressions of Australia and they shared some history of their country, the community of Camden and even explained some Aussie phrases to me. 🙂

Bob is a member of the Camden Community Band along with our son Jonathan and asked me if either Jon was going to perform with the band the following morning and would I be attending the sunrise service for ANZAC Day on Friday? I told them that Jonathan could not attend. I knew very little about this public holiday, even though we viewed, the 1981 movie, ‘Gallipoli,’ soon after we first arrived in Australia.

Movie DVD cover art starring Mel Gibson

1981 Movie DVD cover art
starring Mel Gibson & Mark Lee

I still did not understand and because, from a military point of view, this battle, for which ANZAC Day is remembered, was basically a failed campaign with many losses of life!

Still, the day is important enough to Australia to declare it a national holiday. And it was obviously important to Bob. He had a wonderful display in their store window.

Looking Class Store Window Display

Looking Class clothing store window display

The Looking Class

The Looking Class Clothing Store

Bob informed me that the service would begin at 5:20 AM the next morning. I will never forget my response to his question, am I going! “Who on God’s earth would be awake at this time of the morning,” I sarcastically replied. But I did leave their store with the suggestion that I might show up.

I have been awakened often at 5:00 AM here anyway, because the three cats that live here. If our door is not all the way closed, all three will come into our room to try and wake me up to feed them. One even walks across the head of our bed, and my head, to get to the nightstand and will literally tap the button on the alarm clock to make the radio come on, if all else fails to rouse me from sleep. 🙂

But, I decided to set the alarm on my smart phone, for 4:50 AM and give this sunrise service a shot.

The alarm went off as scheduled; I got up and dressed; then walked maybe four minutes, to where the service was to be held at, The Camden Rose Garden. While I was walking, I noticed to my surprise, the streets were already starting to be lined on both sides with vehicles. I saw a few people out, here and there. Then, as I rounded the corner of the street to where the service was to be held, I beheld something totally unexpected! Hundreds of people were already gathering at the Memorial Rose Garden. Police closed the street to traffic and set up and manned blockades at both ends. As I walked closer, the crowd of people grew larger.

Here were the young and elderly people, male and female, whole families with their children (some still in their pajamas) and groups of families and friends all walking towards the center of attention. The morning was overcast and it was not supposed to rain. There was only a slight 10% chance, but after 10:00 AM. While I walked closer, the band promptly began to play at 5:20 AM.

As I drew closer, I could see that the musicians had their music stands with little lights on them so that they could read the music before them and play their instruments. I saw many men and women dressed in uniform, scouts and various youth groups were dressed in uniform and there were several in their street clothes that had medals on their overcoats and jackets. The temperature was cool and delicious. I only wore a single long sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Some that gathered had clear plastic raincoats and others had umbrellas, many of which, had the Australian Flag as part of the design when opened. On occasion, the then crescent moon shined through the clouds and the area had the benefit of a few streetlamps to provide light.

ANZAC Day sunrise service, video clip

As the band finished the first song, an announcer over a speaker greeted the people and thanked them for coming and for proving him wrong, as it was reported that there were hundreds of people there! By the time the service was over (approximately 1 hour in length), there must have been thousands present at such an early hour, including myself, the least among them, to know why I was there.

The band played another tune and then there was a pause. The people stood motionless and quiet. A few kookaburra birds supplied some vocals. Then the announcer began to explain the purpose of this service and gave a brief introduction of what was to come, named the featured speaker and other dignitaries that had come to participate. The people and every child stood still and were still. It started to rain and I prayed fervently that it would cease. It mattered not, no one moved or even flinched. A few lifted their umbrellas and some were in raincoats, but the rest of the crowd would not be moved by any amount of rain. Thankfully, the rain stopped.

Youth groups in uniforms marched. Planes unseen in the clouds above, flew quietly overhead, out of respect. Every ear listened, as this memorial was far more than to honor those that had fought and died, for what they believed was right and sacrificed the full measure of their devotion, with their lives. Left behind were families that perhaps, would never see their sons, brothers, relatives, friends, or husbands anymore, and children that may have never known their fathers. Left behind were those free to aspire to careers as doctors, engineers, scientists and all manner of free-to-choose paths, FREE from tyranny. Left behind would be those that would live with privilege, not ever knowing war and its many losses and its many changes that many would take long to recover from and some perhaps, not ever. What a wonderful lesson these children and I were being instructed and inspired with! Many of these children, I found out later, did not have to be there so early, they wanted to be!

The beautiful and soaring vocals of woman, along with the band, filled the air and every heart. One by one and group by group, many came forward from the crowd and laid a wreath of honor with the simple and singularly repeated banner, “LEST WE FORGET.” 

Something familiar as, “We will remember, We will never forget,” and other such phrases came to my mind, but…

…But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

The featured speaker was an active military person. His assignment was to bring home fellow soldiers, those that had completed their assignments, were injured and those that fell from the Iraqi war and Afghanistan. It did not matter from which country they hailed. His task this morning was to express what ANZAC Day meant to him. He began his brief remarks with a sincere and humble apology, should he stumble over his words, if his voice should crack or if he could not speak the full content of his words. It was a highly emotional speech. I recall some of it. His job and his team’s mission was to bring “their” soldiers home, period, whatever it took, from whatever country they may have come from! They joked as the plane was loaded and ready to take off, to an unseen enemy, “give us your best shot!” At that very moment, a single bullet rang out and hit. An american soldier that just moments before was showing pictures of his wife and family, smiling and looking so forward to going home, was instantly dead. Our morning speaker mentioned other similar events, his voice quivered, but stayed strong and true. “All our soldiers, we bring home,” he said, with out reservation or hesitation!

I must confess that I was literally in tears. I cannot recount how moved I was and how privileged I felt to be alive, to have been in Australia and to have participated in this early morning service that was purposed to be on or about the same time in 1915, when the soldiers fought and died the morning of April 25th.

There I was, some 9,000 miles away from our home, in another country; at nearly the bottom of the world, before dawn. I cannot imagine what those in 1915 must have felt that day, so far from their loved ones and on foreign soil!

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand, a rare instance of two sovereign countries that not only share in the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name. When war broke out in 1914, Australia and New Zealand had been dominions of the British Empire for thirteen and seven years respectively.

But Anzac Day has become a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all, “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations,” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served. though originally, April 25th was to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

Today, is also, a very special Day for the Dutch in the Netherlands, the Turkish people, the Greeks, and as it should be to Canada, Great Britain, the United States, and in my opinion, the whole world.

“The Gallipoli peninsula TurkishGelibolu YarımadasıGreek:Καλλίπολη) is located in Turkish Thrace (or East Thrace), the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek “Καλλίπολις” (Kallipolis), meaning “Beautiful City”. In antiquity, it was known as the Thracian Chersonese (LatinChersonesus ThracicaGreekΘρακική Χερσόνησος).

In ancient times, the Gallipoli Peninsula was known as the Thracian Chersonesus (“Chersonesus” means “peninsula”) to the Greeks and Romans. it was the location of several prominent towns, including CardiaPactya, Callipolis (Gallipoli), AlopeconnesusSestosMadytos, and Elaeus. The peninsula was renowned for its wheat. It also benefited from its strategic importance on the main route between Europe and Asia, as well as from its control of the shipping route from Crimea. The city of Sestos was the main crossing-point on the Hellespont (Dardanelles).”

Source: Wikipedia

After the sunrise service, there was a parade downtown around 10 AM the same morning. Susan and I made the short walk and arrived shortly before it began. A lady close to us on the corner, was wearing a sprig of rosemary on her blouse. I asked her why and she told us it is a spice for remembering and used symbolically on ANZAC Day. Camden has rosemary growing all over downtown! We struck up a conversation with this lady who has lived in Australia for eight years. She was born and raised in Cyprus, part of Greece and she explained the Greek connection to ANZAC DAY. She broke off two sprigs of rosemary, one for Susan and I and withdrew two small safety pins from her purse and pinned us! A man came by and offered anyone that wanted one, a free Australian Flag. So this is the information about my picture above. But most important, the connections are all starting to connect for me.

Susan enjoying the parade

Susan enjoying the parade

1,000's of the people of Camden came out

1,000’s of the people of Camden came out

Girl carrying one of the many wreaths

A girl carrying one of the many wreaths

The Memorial at the Rose Garden

The Memorial at the Rose Garden

"Lest We Forget"

“Lest We Forget”

Though the following video displays uniforms and symbolism perhaps specifically only familiar to the people of the United States, cannot the same truths and emotions be understood, shared and felt among all the peoples of the world?!

“Hey Brother”

In World War 2, twenty-two thousand Australians were captured defending Malaya, Singapore, and the Netherlands and the East Indies. An estimated 8031 died in captivity as Prisoners-of-War (POWs) of the Japanese.

Some 13000 Australian POWs were transported to Burma and Thailand to work on the 420 kilometre (about 261 miles) Burma–Thailand Railway, where nearly 2650 Australians died — from disease, deprivation and horrendous brutality at the hands of their captors. This was known as and perhaps for infamy (in shame), the ‘Railway of Death.’

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

In Turkey, the name “ANZAC Cove” was officially recognized by the Turkish government on Anzac Day in 1985. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington:

“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.”

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

The Netherlands connect with and share much in common with ANZAC DAY.

In commemorating the 20th anniversary of The Netherlands liberation, the Dutch government commissioned trumpet player, Nini Rosso and Guglielmo Brezza, to compose a piece of music. It was written in 1965 and first played in 1965, May 5th.

The piece is instrumental, with a small spoken Italian lyric, notable for its trumpet theme. Its thematic melody is, an extension of the same Italian Calvary bugle call, used by Russian composer Tchaikovsky, to open his ‘Capriccio Italien’ and often mistaken for the United States bugle call, ‘Taps.’ It has become a world wide instrumental standard.

The reason for the commissioning of this music was to honor those in a cemetery in the Dutch city of Maastricht. For there lie buried, 8,301 American soldiers, who died in “Operation Market Garden,” in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall and winter of 1944-45. Everyone of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries has been adopted by a Dutch family, who tend the grave and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is the custom to keep a portrait of “their,” foreign soldier, in a place of honor in their homes. Annually, on “Liberation Day,” Memorial Services are held for “the men, who died to liberate Holland.” The day concludes with a concert, at which, “Il Silenzio” (The Silence) has always been, the concluding piece.

Il Silenzio contains the following spoken lines:

Buona notte, amore
Ti vedrò nei miei sogni
Buona notte a te che sei lontana
Good night, love
I’ll see you in my dreams
Good night to you who are far away.

In 2008, the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands.


“Il Silenzio” 

The Silence

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

We the peoples of the world are connected, by so much more than we may realize. I am not advocating that we abandon our individual dates of importance or our cultures. I am not even suggesting that we all share in some world wide special international holiday. In silence we all should not just remember what people have died for, but for what purpose have they lived.

The United States, in our Declaration of Independence of 1776, put into writing, the hopes and dreams of every man, woman and child for all times past, for the present and for all our futures; ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD! Are the peoples of the world all not connected by the fervent desire, for “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness!” We should remember those that lived and died for these things the world over as well as, those that live now and have resolved to give their lives to those ends if called for. But we who are alive and live with the privileges of those sacrifices made for us, should remember that we all desire the same things and to live this way, to teach our children, and avoid any conflict,

“Lest we forget!” 

And these are not merely lofty sentiments or unreal expectations. For the purpose of life is to live. The right of life is liberty. The desire of every life is the pursuit of individual happiness.

Over nine thousand miles away from home, in a foreign country; at almost the bottom of the world, I have seen this and experienced it in the coming together of the people here in Camden, New South Wales, Australia, on this ANZAC Day, 2014!

For this day, they were all a part of me and I was one with them. May I return to my own homeland with this same heart and share it,

“Lest I Forget!

Categories: ANZAC Day, Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Family & Friends, Holidays, Inspiration, Japan, The Gathering Place, The Global Village, The Land Down Under, Things that really matter, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: A Cockatoo Good Morning to You

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

On Friday April 11, 2014, after we checked in at our cottage in Katoomba, NSW, Australia in the Blue Mountains, Susan and Jonathan and I went to town to find some food for super. Caitlin, baby Felix and Fritz the dog stayed behind at the cottage.

The cottage had a large open space for the living, dining and breakfast area, with a high cathedral ceiling. The west wall was all glass and outside was a large wooden deck. Two large cedar trees were on each side of the deck.

The view of the Blue Mountains towards the frot of the deck or due west was incredible! It was the perfect place to view the sunrise, sunset, moon-rise,  moon-fall and the many coolabah (eucalyptus or gum) trees rising mysteriously in the distance. These trees hosted many cockatoos and other birds. Throughout our weekend, we could see them fly over and sunset and sunrise and perch in the trees. And, outside on the deck was a wonderful place to hear the cacophony of sounds and breathe the fresh clean mountain air and reflect on life, chill or just be at peace.

But as we three, on our first evening here, crossed the street from our cottage, at least 100 cockatoos flew overhead, just around sunset. We we brought food home for Caitlin and told her about this, she let us know that she saw the same group of birds fly overhead and land in the trees, in front of the deck of our cottage!

Personally, I’ve only ever seen any of these beautiful birds in zoos and as pets back home in the United States, but and never so many and flying-living free in Australia!!! 🙂

Although I was not able to capture this extraordinary sight with my camera, four cockatoos showed up the morning we left for home. One in particular, seemed more than willing to pose just for you! So I share this ‘Cockatoo Good Morning with You!’

Good Morning from our cottage deck in the Blue Mountains

Good Morning from our cottage deck in the Blue Mountains

Four Cockatoos

Four Cockatoos

Curious Cockatoos

Curious Cockatoos

Strutting Stuff

Strutting Stuff

Got any food?

Got any food?

Sure I'll pose for you!

Sure I’ll pose for you!

Look at me!

Look at me!

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

It is a beautiful morning!

It is a beautiful morning!

See how high I can sit in the tree!

See how high I can sit in the tree!

I'm so pretty! Thanks for looking! HAVE A NICE DAY! :)

I’m so pretty! Thanks for looking! HAVE A NICE DAY! 🙂

Categories: Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Birds of Australia, Blue Mountains, cockatoos, Eucalyptus Trees, Family & Friends, Inspiration, Japan, Katoomba, Photography, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized, Visual Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On: Aussie Beverages

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday Mates, from Donnie your Aussie beverage guide

In a previous post, we tasted some wonderful Australian food and their butter. See Butter from this blog here.

While out and about on our Saturday here, we came upon a store called the Epicure which means, “one that enjoys fine food and drink” or simply, “the good life.” This is the same store where we enjoyed that marvelous butter from two posts back. After going on and on and drooling from the memory of this, the lady asked if we would like to taste the milk that is used to make this butter? Would I, would we? There was no hesitation, of course we would and did.

When I was a young boy, we had an Aunt Gladys & an Uncle Al. We loved to visit them! Right across the road from them was a dairy farm. One dog would round up all the cows and bring them to the barn for milking. They had mechanical milking machines even 50 years ago or so. But the milk went into this stainless steel tank that was somehow cooled instantly it seemed to just above freezing or 32° F. (Fahrenheit). I don’t to this day know how they did it, but when I say “ice cold,” it was ICE COLD!

A side note: 100’s of cats all seemed to show up out of nowhere at milking time! 🙂

Anyway, since those times, I could never drink milk unless it had ice in it, but I drank this milk from Australia that was the same milk used to make the awesome butter we had and it WAS DELICIOUS!!! 🙂

Well, this post really is about beverages from Australia or that I have tried here. You have already seen the following picture in another post, but here it is again. After the milk, it’s GINger time. In a bit you will understand why, I capitalized GIN in GINger. 🙂

Ginger Beer, Ginger Ade, Dark & Stormy (Giner beer, lime and rum) and Ginger Wine

Ginger Beer, Ginger Ade, Dark & Stormy (Ginger beer, lime and rum) and Ginger Wine

Then there was this ginger suprize that you have also seen before.

Champagne with a ginger sugar cube

Champagne with a ginger sugar cube

Next, what was the capitals of GIN in the GINger for?

On the last night of the Camden Show, Jonathan and I popped in to a local pub, for a night cap or two. 🙂

I ordered an Australian beer with Jonathan’s recommendation and he ordered a GIN and tonic. I have never liked gin because it smells if not like a pine tree which I do like the smell, but it reminds me of mineral spirits which I used to use for many years, in cleaning out my paint brushes used for, oil-based or alkyd paint. I’ve sometimes wondered why so many older painters drank a lot? Was it to cut the taste of the mineral spirits out of their nostrils? Well anyway, something came over me and I asked Jonathan if I could try his drink? I think I was thinking that I used to not like tonic water until it was put together with rum, fresh lime and fresh ground nutmeg that our friend and former neighbors (still friends) made for many-a-happy-hour. We affectionately refer to this as, ‘Lou’s Pirate Punch!’ So I perhaps thought, maybe GIN, with fresh lime and tonic water might be OK? Jonathan said, “Sure you can taste it!” I did. I loved it and ordered myself one. This experience set the stage for what was to come later, when we stopped in to ‘The Custom’s House’  reaturant and bar in Sydney for a drink after our return from the Toranga Zoo. The Zoo post is coming, hang on! 🙂

The Customs House is or was indeed that, for Customs. But on one of the upper floors was the Customs House Bar & Restaurant. It was a fancy beautiful place with a great view of Darling Harbor and the Harbor Bridge.

From the rear of The Customs House

From the rear of The Customs House


Lighted table for our drinks. Very Cool! :)

Lighted table for our drinks. Very Cool! 🙂

Anyway, on their drink menu was a ‘Gin Gin Mule.’ I was curious. It sounded like a Moscow Mule which is ginger beer, fresh lime and vodka that I already like, so I tried this and? I loved it! 🙂

A Gin Gin Mule is served in a tall glass with ginger beer, a spicy ginger syrup, fresh lime, GIN and a sprig of mint and ice.

A Moscow Mule is basically the same, but with vodka, and traditionally served in a copper mug (lined of course, with stainless steel).

A Dark & Stormy is also, basically the same only it uses, a dark (more molasses flavored) rum and served in whatever kind of glass you desire.

All of these drinks made with ginger beer are fantastic. Thank you Australia for introducing me to Gin, Gin & Tonic, and the Gin Gin Mule!

Now for something regular, only from Australia, beer (actually it’s pale ale)! How does the name Fat Yak grab you? Well this is its name and it is made in Matilda Bay in Australia. Sure it will give your Matilda something to waltz about! 🙂

Fat Yak starts with hops and they finish it with hops. Normally, I don’t care for hoppy beer and ales etc., but this has a wonderful blend, a bit of fruit in its flavor and it just has a nice and lovely taste!

Fat Yak pale ale

Fat Yak pale ale


Are you ready for something really unusual? Here it comes. While we were in the Blue Mountains, the girls popped in to a little liquor store to pick up a nice bottle of Riesling wine for our night’s meal. Just outside the shop was a little sandwich board with the following message:

“Try Our Hot Chilly Wine”

This is exactly what the sign said and it is spelled exactly as I saw it. But I wondered what that meant, So I went into the store and asked. Now I don’t know if whoever wrote the sign cannot spell or it was intentional. If it was the latter, well it worked because, I wanted to know what it meant! 🙂

But I suppose the wine was chilly and it was hot and it was wine and it was made out of chili! So welcome one and all to world of Hot Chilly Chili Wine!

Hot Chili Wine (front)

Hot Chili Wine (front)

Hot Chili Wine (rear)

Hot Chili Wine (rear)

Hot Chili Wine cloese up of rear label)

Hot Chili Wine (close up of rear label)

Disaster Bay Chillies produce this sweet hot wine without grapes whatsoever! It is made from 100% chili peppers.

The proprietor gave me a sample and there are just no words to describe what was beyond anything I could imagine!

Disaster Bay Chillies is a partnership between Stuart Meagher and John Wentworth. John has been an organic market gardener for more than a decade and Stuart has been a chilli fanatic for at least as long.

Stuart and John combined their passions in 1999 to grow chillies on the Far South Coast of NSW to produce what they believe is the world’s first commercially available wine made from chillies. They used a recipe from a mate of Stuarts, known as Old Didler, as a starting point. Then, after much experimentation – and a little luck – they struck upon a workable method to produce the wine.

Disaster Bay Chillies is from Eden, a coastal town in the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. The town is 478 kilometres (or about 297 miles) south of the state capital Sydney and is the most southerly town in New South Wales.

This sweet and hot (spicy hot) wine was absolutely incredible and unlike anything we four had ever tried. It is great with cheese and crackers which is what we had it with. I think it would be awesome with fresh oysters too! What ever you serve it with, do yourself , your guests, friends and families a favor and TRY IT!!!

We intended to bring this home, but we opened it up and drank most of it that night! We finished it off the next night when we returned home to Camden. Oh NO, what to do???? “No worries mates, you can order it online!”

Categories: Aussie, Australia, Beverages, Chili, Family & Friends, Food, Harbor Bridge, Japan, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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