Bits and Pieces
Fran Wickes confronts the choices Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 June 2016 00:00

Life was so much simpler in the old days! Now we have so much choice that even the simple things of life are complex.

When I was a child when it came to the matter of bread, it was either white or brown with an occasional treat when Hovis bread was available. This had a secret ingredient that gave it a nutty/malty flavour to die for.

Today I am overwhelmed by the choices on offer. Still white or brown but added in is multigrain, wholegrain, linseed, soy, ciabatta, Turkish, flat bread to name just a few.

There is a similar situati on when it comes to milk. Again when I was a child , the cows ambled up the villa ge street to the farm, morning and evening, for milking. Shortly after this the farmer's lad would come down the street on his bicycle with a churn of milk fresh from the cow strapped under t he crossbar on the bike. Wives and mothers wo uld appear carrying their jugs and have the milk ladled in from the churn. It was delicious! Now of course, we are not allowed such luxury.

The milk has to be sterilised, homogenised with perm eate taken out or put back in, and the range of milks is truly amazing. Full cream, fat free, skinny, longlife and that is only the cow’s milk. Then there is soy milk, almond milk, ric e milk, oat milk, coconut milk and who know what is to come!

Coffee is little better. It used to be served either black or white, now it can be long black, short black, flat white, cappuccino, skinny anything, latte, mocha. Need I go on. Tea is also on the expansion bandwagon, black, white, green, breakfast, Earl Grey, chamomile , lemon and ginger , and a host more fruity models.

My tiny mind is looking towards the future, speculating on which commodity might be in line for major expansion next. If I knew that I might invest and profit from the proliferation.

 
BIRDS – and other things! Print E-mail
Friday, 06 May 2016 00:00

Part forty - four – A Reverie...

Gazing Upwards This time som ething quite different. I have a confession to make........I feel I must admit that I am (almost) an ADDICT. Not to any forbidden substance (vino not included in that statement!) and NO, I am NOT a closet Twitcher. In fact I do not know whether there is a collective name for my ‘addiction’..........I am a very keen Cloud Watcher; or maybe I could call it Daytime Sky Gazing.

Anyhow, I have always been fascinated by the constantly changing canopy above our heads and the sometimes flashy splendour, sometimes bleak, black cloud scenes that are presented daily for us to enjoy (or not!).

This addiction has never been in the scientific or meteorological sense, namely the interpretation of what sort of weather each type of cloud foretells, as I never could remember which c ategory of cloud – nimbus, cirrus or cumulus – equated to which weather pattern, although stratus, the only one I can define (flat or layered) is self - explanatory. This dilemma is most evident when more knowledgeable people refer to cumulonimbus or cirrost ratus – it is just too, too confusing.

So, my habit of looking up is not a hobby or a pastime; it is just a genuine amateur’s appreciation of the incredible and remarkable formations and colours achieved in the upper atmos phere. To me, the visual as pect of this ever - changing, colourful, artistic curtain is usually a pleasurable scene. Which, of course, in turn can be uplifting, bringing delight or serenity, even dread or perhaps gratitude for much - needed rain. It is entirely up to our imagination and individual appreciation of this ever - changing panorama.

At times we may be forgiven for thinking that clouds are static or semi - permanent features, while in reality they are more like a giant mobile full of differe nt shapes and sizes, swinging rapi dly against a bright blue sky as they scud by in a huge arc. One type of cloud that has me p eering skywards through my Ray - Bans a re the soft, white, billowy cushions that soar majestically from the far horizon before finally bubbling and bursting into rounded, ever - growing bulges with pearly ir idescent edges outlined against a clear blue background.

These clouds usually hide a brilliant sun that sometimes pierces through the cloud cover to reveal a glimpse of intense blueness in a benign sky. But the pristine wh iteness of these clouds where they meet the blue of the sky, usually belies and offsets a darker, shadowy underbelly that often fools us into thinking that rain is imminent. All too often we soon realise that this is just an illusion put there to tantalise and frustrate our hopes for .......... ’just a short shower , any rain will do, pleeeeese’!

We have all, no doubt, seen spectacular skies at sunrise or sunset, but would they be as stunning without clouds to frame and set them off so picturesquely? It is clouds that give daybreak and sundown form, shape and reflected colour accentuating the muted, limpid pastel tintings of the wispy vapours high in the morning or evening sky. It is this semi - neutral haze that is a ready backdrop to the luminous colours mirrored f rom the skyline as they shimmer and dance while the sun hovers on the horizon.

I apologise if this narrative reads as though I have swallowed Roget’s Thesaurus (I believe ‘waxing lyrical’ is the appropriate cliché), but if mere words can convince you to j oin me in appreciative sky - gazing, I think we could start an official club (just joking!).Just remember to stand still while performing these neck exercises – do not drive or walk’n’watch at the same time as it could be slightly hazardous.

Anyhow I will l eave it for now and continue in a future Newsletter as I still have additional observations and comments to divulge about my ‘addiction’, ( if you are still interested ?) .

 
Countries Study Group Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 May 2016 00:00

This month Lorna takes us to Spain, a country with a rich history including Moorish Muslim occupation, a vast global empire – thanks to which Spanish is the world’s second most spoken first language after Chinese – a bloody civil war and the present day calls for regional autonomy. Lorna’s presentation will take place at 3pm on 6 May at her home. For further details call 8948 0411.

 
Flute Recital Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 00:00

Along with two coll eagues, Maggie Wu Jing, a visiting scholar from Anhui Normal University, China, will be giving a flute recital at 7pm on 30 April in building Orange 6.1.08 on CDU’s Casuarina Campus. Admission is free.

 
Craft Fair Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 00:00

Tactile Arts is holding its Saltwater Craft Fair from 9am to 2pm on 8 May at the Darwin Waterfront. Everything for sale – ceramics, jewellery, prints, mosaics, paintings, beauty products and more – is handmade by local artis ts and artisans. For more information contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Open Garden Print E-mail
Monday, 02 May 2016 00:00

Even though the Open Gardens Scheme sponsored by the ABC has come to an end, there are st ill, occasionally, gardens that are open to the public. This month, on 29 May , the Top End Native Plants Society has an open garden at 150 Woodcote Crescent, Girraween. For more information go to topendnativeplants.org. au.

 
Darwin Symphony Or chestra Opera Gala Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 May 2016 00:00

A spectacular evening of ope ra is in store at 6.30pm on 21 M ay when the Darwin Symp hony Orchestra is joined by four of Australia’s opera superstars – Cheryl Baker, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Henry Choo and Victoria Lambourn – for a concert of fa vourite arias. At the Darwin Waterfront – take your own chair or rug and a picnic (no glass or alcohol permitted); gold coin donation.

 
U3A Meetings Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 12:52

Because of maintenance work being undertaken on the air-conditioning installation at Casuarina Library, there will be no U3A meetings (talks or mah-jong) from 26 April to 12 May 2016 (inclusive).

 
Have Your Say Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2016 20:01

In presenting our organisation’s financial situation at the Annual General Meeting last month, Treasurer in Office, Audrey Grace noted that the accounts for the last year showed a deficit of $4,950. In the discussion that followed it was suggested that some savings could be made in future by discontinuing the practice of placing obituary notices in the NT News when a member dies as each insertion costs $180.50, and instead recording the passing in the Newsletter.

This suggestion met with overwhelming support at the AGM; however, it was decided to consult members on a larger scale. If you would like to make your position known please call Judith on 8932 7545, leave a message at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or indicate your preference on the form which will be available at our meetings on 7 and 12 April.

 
Countries Study Group Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2016 19:59

This month, Jack Oliver will be taking us back to ancient Sumer for what promises to be an interesting talk. The meeting will be held at Lorna’s house at 3pm on 8 April (please note: not the first Friday of the month). For further information call Lorna on 8948 0411.

Sumer, a region of Southern Mesopotamia, is generally considered to be the cradle of civilisation; you can find out more about the Sumerians here.

 
Calling Interstate? Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2016 19:58

With the end of summer time, the clocks go back an hour on 3 April in NSW, SA, TAS, VIC and the ACT.

If you’re calling further afield, you may like to know that summer time started on 13 March in the majority of Canadian Provinces and US States, while European countries put their clocks forward by an hour on 27 March.

 
Making the web page print larger Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2016 19:58

If you sometimes find the text on a web page too small to read easily, you can increase the size of the print very simply: just press and hold the CTRL key while moving the wheel between the two buttons on your mouse in an upward (away from you) direction. As you scroll with the wheel, the size of the print will instantly increase. To decrease the size, hold down the CTRL key and move the mouse wheel in a downward direction. This option will also work in many other programs such as Microsoft Word.

 
Shopping in Darwin in the 1970s Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2016 19:57

Recent mention of another shopping franchise coming to Darwin made me wonder whether any members remember the following.

During the 1970s, Woolworths had their store on the same corner in the city that has been given a new lease on life recently, but it had a large car park in front. I parked there one day and went in to find the store almost empty. I commented on this to one of the assistants and she told me that all the people were round in Cavenagh Street, shopping at a new store there. I trotted round and about where Warehouse 73 is now was the new attraction; I'm not sure but I think it was a branch of Tom the Cheap from WA. Apparently they had to close the doors twice on their first day of trading to restock the shelves. You marked the shelf price on whatever you put in your basket: definitely no frills.

Later, a branch of Jack the Slasher, a warehouse-type store, opened somewhere in Winnellie. Whenever we came to the big smoke from Katherine, we always packed the esky in the car to stock up on the way home with all these new brands you never saw anywhere else. Those were the days when shopping was fun!

Fran Wickes

 
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