An Afternoon Stroll On New Year’s Day

Seagulls on the beach…

I did something different on New Year’s Day – 1st January, 2012. I walked the length of the Esplanade in Cairns, Australia where my family resides.

My first walk of the year you might say. Quite exhilarating.

‘A penny for your thoughts…’ – in a reflective mood.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon and dusk was approaching fast when I took the long walk past the marina, lovely lush green trees and lawns, people fishing and jogging and others just enjoying the peace of the 1st day of 2012.

A drink in the cool of the afternoon.

I took photos along the way which I always do wherever I go because you never know what your camera can capture.  The light is the big thing with taking photos – anytime, anywhere. So this walk was no exception.

Part of the marina…

I took in the sights and sounds of the seafront as I strolled along the cemented walkway.  I guess my photos will remind me of those captive personal moments. It was a spur of the moment decision and I was glad I did make the decision to walk. Don’t do that in Port Moresby – a pity really but nevermind.

Looking out at the boats moored at the marina.

A walk is a great way to reflect and this being the first day of the new year, 2012, I thought about possible resolutions that I can adopt. I wanted to be as realistic about these resolutions and that is difficult to fathom sometimes because each day is different. Besides implementing the resolutions is something else. One has to be committed and really be honest about what is real and what is perceived in terms of setting the resolutions in the first place. Well, a reflective walk in my humble opinion is an excellent start.

Fishing on New Year’s Day – that’s a first for me. Didn’t see anyone haul in catch.

I thought of the year that has just passed, 2011, and realised how fortunate I am to be able to fly to Cairns and spend time with my family and also to get some much needed relaxation.

Wish I could do this at Ela Beach.

That’s not to say that my corner of Port Moresby isn’t up to the task of being a relaxing place but sometimes a change of scene – to get away physically and go to another place is just the tonic one needs to recharge one’s batteries. Also looking back I acknowledge how much life has changed or is it I that has changed much?  I think both but under different circumstances throughout the  year 2011. One thing I was sure of and that was the 2012 is going to be a really great year on many fronts – I could feel it in my spirit.

Reminded me of the Catalina planes that used to land on the sea near Samarai Island in the 1960s to pick up and drop off passengers. We called them ‘sea planes’.

We don’t realise that our lives, and we only have one, are so tied up in what we call work or our ‘day jobs’ that often times we forget that parts of us die a natural death everyday because we neglect those parts. We need to air them out every now and then starting with our minds.

I was fortunate to capture this. I was hoping I’d be able to take an interesting shot and sure enough here it is – the seagull on take off…

What are these parts of us? These parts are the more spiritual aspects of our lives or us such as company, laughter, pleasure from walking, views of places we think we know but we don’t and so on. It is only when we stop to take in the views, the features that we miss that familiar things take on a totally different meaning – it’s like we are seeing them for the first time.

The sea was not too choppy for these guys in this dinghy, I think.  Took my mind back to life in the islands of Milne Bay.

Take time to think about the people we live with, interact with, work with etc and what happens is that we suddenly see them in a different light – we suddenly find the parts of their lives we can connect with. This is that opportunity for realisation that no man/woman is an island. I promised myself to do this – to see each person I meet as a blessing and likewise.

Diehard fisherman in the setting sun over Cairns, Australia.

I began to think about my family and the things I need to do to connect with them this year. Of course, as you and I know, somethings are easier said than done.

But without falling into a cliched existence one must make the effort to make things happen such as finding the parts of our lives that have fallen through the cracks, fish them out and dust them and give them a brand new lease on life so that we can focus on the progressive and add value to our own and others’ lives.

The rays of the sunset behind the tall buildings creating a silhouette – some call these kind of rays ‘the fingers of God’.

On my way back to the poolside and the families who were gathered there to celebrate the first day of 2012, I stopped by a sweets and icecream shop and shamelessly indulged my sweet tooth with some creamy delectable morsels.

Irrestible meringue with vanilla icecream and cream…it disappeared so fast I actually contemplated a second one – devil!

There were others who stopped by this icecream oasis to indulge their sweet tooth too. 

It was so peaceful and private to just sit there and enjoy something without gawking eyes,  flies and dust.  

I had tea and thought about growing up on my beautiful island home in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. We used to have to clear the breakfast plates so fast on New Year’s day in the 1960s because we need to identify  places in and outside the house to hide in as it would be ‘dui’ time when it’s high tide and the men would run into all the houses looking for women and girls and carry them kicking and screaming down to the gelegele (beach) then throw them into the swimming pool. This is a natural sea water pool near the jetty.

This was absolutely delish, I practically inhaled it! It was that goooood…

We also used to have all the cake, scones, buns and fresh bread we wanted on New Year’s day as we would have been baking on New Year’s Eve ensuring that we had everything baked before midnight.

At midnight, 12 sharp, the noise levels would be defeaning as people beat saucepans, drums and anything that could make the loudest noise to herald in the new year.

We would run down to the beach to light the ‘osiri’ (dried coconut leaves). Against the dark skyline, the lit and flaming osiri on the beaches of neighbouring islands and the mainland was a sight to behold. Am not sure if the lighting of the osiri is still practiced on New Year’s Eve annually now.

Beautiful tree lined walk…

I had never had the misfortune (fortune) to be carried out kicking and screaming to be thrown into the pool. There were loads of laughter and fun when this happened and everyone always embellished their own experiences.

Looking back on those days, what a journey I’ve made – this is the 21st Century and I am in a foreign land and the place is very quiet. Almost forgotten ‘dui’ time.

Peaceful…

I find so  much pleasure in taking photos of the things I come across on my walks or trips to various place within and outside PNG. It helps me to remember the memorable moments in my life then later to sit and re-live the experiences when I feel like I need a pick me up. This is why I carry my camera everywhere I go even if I was just going somewhere close. I don’t want to miss a thing.

The ‘Lagoon’ in the heart of the city of Cairns, Australia. A haven for water lovers of all ages. The fish sculptures are amazing.

My pictures tell a story about one special moment or moments that make up that unique experience for me.

Children of all ages in the pool. They were there when I left and still there when I returned. Could have been a good place to initiate ‘dui’ time, not!

The children were still in the pool when I returned from my walk. I also ran into two people were looked really familiar – one of them was a school mate whom I have not seen since we left high school in Milne Bay – now that would be over 30 years! 

I felt so blessed and free.

Birthday Breakfast At Milano’s

A full cooked breakfast on my birthday. 2 poached eggs, sausages, hashbrowns, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, bacon and a sprig of fresh parsley to complete the delicious ensemble. One word from me - yumsko!

No, I did not eat everything on the plate incase you are wondering. I really didn’t plan to have a full cooked breakfast but the idea was there. It was a lovely sunny day, not hot or muggy so a cooked breakfast at Milano’s on Queen Street, Brisbane City seemed like a natural choice that morning. 

As you can see, I was going to have a King’s breakfast. I did wait a little while for the breakfast to arrive at my table but realised that there were more people here than perhaps on a weekday. When the plate was infront of me, it was, let’s say, a breakfast worth waiting for.

The 'silver ware' and the nice fresh clean surroundings...waiting for my green tea to arrive.

 The only bit of excitement or rather the interruption of my thoughts, was when a couple sitting next to me, obviously, very much fascinated with eachother, asked me to take their photo. I quickly obliged. I tried to capture their moment so I made sure I framed the photo properly and did not disappoint them.

After a few minutes of trying to figure out the best angle, voila! click went the camera, photo taken and handed back their camera. They were quite pleased with the result and complimented me for my photographic skills obviously they may have noticed my Nikon D90 parked next to me.  Well, that is neither here nor there. The important thing for me was that their special moment was well-captured and I got a compliment for a photo well-taken. It was not bad for someone who could not remember their own birthday even if it were staring them in the face.

Green tea finally arrived to a very warm welcome from my stomach...

I tried to think of all the birthdays I’ve celebrated, well, the ones that I can remember but not chronologically, are you kidding?

I couldn’t even remember how I celebrated my birthday last year. In fact come to think of it, I celebrated it in Alotau – a quiet affair but then a few days later I was singing with my ex-Salima members – it was a great bung as we sang some of our memorable numbers for the relatives and friends who gathered to celebrate another birthday in Alotau on 19th March, 2010.

After my King’s breakfast, I took my time walking around the Mall and shopping arcades and taking  in the sights and sounds of the city and thinking about the afternoon at JKL’s place at Bellbowrie.

A Memorable Weekend In Alotau

Looking across to Ealeba from Cameron's Plateau

Don’t get me wrong. I have spent many a memorable weekend in Alotau. It is just that this time I felt I had come of age. For starters, I got to use the ‘live view’ function of my Nikon D90. Then the weather was  my kind of weekend weather – dry and sunny and, I got to see the people I wanted to see whilst in Alotau. I also, as a bonus, ran into a lot of family and friends who I haven’t seen in ages.

I also visited my late grandmother’s village across the bay – Wagawaga. The first time I visited Wagawaga was when I was in primary school. Now that is a long time ago. I was really pleased to hook up with relatives some of whom I was meeting face to face for the first time.

Approaching Wagawaga Village...a postcard of tranquility

I also got to sing with the original members of the Salima Band at the Driftwood Resort and Masurina Lodge respectively over the weekend. I was so pleased that this was possible. We stayed up on Saturday ‘til the early hours of the morning singing our recorded songs, teaching eachother our newer songs and talking about our music. Yes, our music. You see, the Salima signature sound is founded on Milne Bay stringband music with a few improvisations along the way to vary the flavor. But, basically, easy listening music which is the sound that Salima is well-known for.

A restaurant over the sea...at dusk

We were blessed to have some of our diehard fans join us in celebrating the weekend and our music. We are so grateful for their patronage of the Driftwood Resort on the Friday and Sunday nights that Salima played there. Not forgetting family and friends who also enjoyed our music when Salima played at Masurina Lodge on Saturday night. Thank you all so much for your support. Your support and encouragement motivates and inspires us to continue writing our songs to share with you.

Warm reception...

I had a wonderful visit at Alotau International Hotel with the Manager and staff. Some of you who have visited this premier Hotel in Alotau would have enjoyed the stunning views of the bay area. I had a grand tour of the hotel and really enjoyed visiting this seaside hotel. Of course, knowing me, no visit is complete without a sumptuous bowl of icecream, you guessed it – vanilla icecream!

Icecream on a cool Saturday afternoon on the grounds of the Hotel...yummy!

The hotel is situated near the War Memorial and Sanderson Bay. It is within walking distance of the town centre and the market. Can you see yourself enjoying a barbeque on these grounds, a mumu perhaps or pig on a spit or perhaps a wedding reception with the fantastic sweeping views of Ealeba across the bay area? The fun potential of this hotel is endless.

The view reminded me of The Remarkables of Queenstown, New Zealand

When at the water’s edge in Alotau, one gets a real sense of the awesome Owen Stanley Range as it forks out into a lopsided ‘V’ shape, into Tawala  and Ealeba – the sprawling mountain ranges that form the bay area – Milne Bay. These majestic mountain ranges have evoked many a rousing stringband number or sombre and moody melodies. These tunes have become the epitome of the Milne Bay 5-key sound – as slack guitar is to Hawaii. The tunes are endearing and enduring throughout the years and I guess we – this generation – are most fortunate to have grown up with so much of the romanticism of our environment.

An awesome sight even for the locals...I felt really blessed.

I say romanticism because we do not remember the bad weather, the rainy season and the rough seas when we are writing our songs. We consciously disconnect ourselves from reminiscing about the storms and the times when the environment unleashes its fury on the islands during a cyclone or bad weather. We still write and sing songs about being nostalgic, jilted in love or the natural beauty around us. This romanticism translates itself consciously and unconsciously into the care we feel for our islands, our bay area, our reefs, our culture and art, and of course our way of life – the Milne Bay way.

Priceless!

I don’t know but more than anywhere else I know in PNG the stringband songs of Milne Bay always never fail to wake the sleeping romantic in me. I know for a fact that Milne Bay stringbands can still belt out the most melodious, lilting sounds that are close to what I would call ‘island spirituals’. For the many who have an ear or the enduring spirit that connects with this kind of music – it takes you on a journey, oh yeah.

Icecream Anyone? Creamy Magic Or Melted Disaster…

Tempting but not the real thing...sori tumas

This was an advert in a shop selling kitchenware in Cairns, Australia. I was captivated with the idea and the presentation. Simple yet alluring and soooooo tempting! I remembered a joke about a passenger on a PX flight who drank the coffee and ate the cup as well! If that person were to see this, nevermind…

Port Moresby may be known to be somewhat not representative of the rest of Papua New Guinea for many reasons, some of which are not the intention of this post. Nonetheless the city does have a quirky character of its own when it comes to food. Mind you, it is not a candidate for great cuisine at world standards or a gourmet’s paradise by any stretch of the imagination but it has somethings which surprise me. Like the fact that it doesn’t matter where you have a meal there is bound to be icecreamvanilla icecream!

Some eateries serve icecream like its an afterthought and usually one can tell if this is the case. The person serving you could be saying stop wasting my time, why don’t you order something exciting from the limited range of cakes. Limited being the operative word of course. But there are places where presentation alone keeps your tongue hanging out (discretely of course). One is almost afraid to bulldoze the beautiful and delicate creamy structure under one’s nose. 

Here are a couple of beauties I captured on my kai haus wokabaut in POM city. No not in one night! On several occasions at different places around this city by the sea…

Vanilla with a choc topping...

I think every place in Port Moresby has plain vanilla icecream always in stock.

Plain icecream...I think almost anyone's favourite any day

Served with tropical fruits is too delicious for words. A friend had this for dessert the other evening. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this wonderful pot pourri of icecream and cream perched on a bed of tropical fruits. Almost too pretty to eat!

Hmmm...heaven on a plate!

Another creamy creation too delicious to put a spoon through…but I dug in with much delight last Thursday evening. It complemented and completed my dinner. Well, after that I couldn’t eat anymore! We just have to forget the waistline sometimes. Well, I do melt infront of such delicious-ness, like this bowl of icecream.

Lychees with scoops of vanilla icecream...

This next one has to be the  pièce de résistance…without a doubt!

The scoops of icecream piled on top of a glass boat of tropical fruit was a sight to behold…icecream-wise. A colleague had this last Thursday evening. True to myself I took a photo of this beautiful creamy creation.

A 'boat' of happiness...yeaaaaaaaah

I couldn’t help muttering to myself as I write this post, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for icecream” – don’t know who coined that but it seems so apt for this post and I could not resist quoting it here. I went searching around the net and guess what I found this video on Youtube: a song about icecream. Harim and see  what you think of it. I think it is fun to have a jazz band playing such a simple but lovely melody about icecream.

You can read about the history of icecream here – how icecream was ‘discovered’ and developed over the years. There’s more information on icecream on this website.

Who Said Plane Food Is Boring?

Just look at these samples. This is what you get when you fly business class these days.

Air Niugini flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby. Barramandi dish...yums in the tums

I was ravenous and pleasantly surprised to see the veggies…then a piece of paradise in a cup…

Yummy...anyday!

One of the best things about flying this class is that there doesn’t seem to be an end to lovely yummy goodies. Now where do they store them all. Well nevermind…it’s when they bring them out that matters.

Coconut icecream with a mango topping...this has to be the ultimate in fine dining...above the clouds!

It just gets better and better…plane food, I mean. Bon voyage, y’all.

A Confusing Name But A Goodie…

Like fish and chips any day.

When I first came to live in London I didn’t know that bangers and mash was food! Let alone what bangers were and what mash was.

I had no idea what the dish was. As far as I was concerned bangers are what you bang together to produce a noise like a gong, and mash was the name of a favourite American movie series “M.A.S.H”. I wondered why this was something you can eat or find in a pub or cafe. Sounded more like something you’ll find in a car service centre or garage. It could have been the name of a tool you used to hold two pieces of glued wooden slats – like a clamp.

I first had bangers and mash in 2004 at Davy’s pub near my office. Since then I have always associated bangers and mash with Davy’s since it was there that I was initiated to bangers and mash – the name of a simple common dish.  Anyway, then, it turned out to be a dish made up of a couple of sausages – Cumberland sausages – and mashed potato. I found this explanation of bangers and mash.

On this particular lunch time with my two close friends last week, I thought since we were at Davy’s I might as well go for bangers and mash and I  did. The dish not only hit the spot for me that day, it also warmed my heart to recall that this was where I first tasted this favourite hunger reliever. To be honest a dish with a confusing name but a goodie, nonetheless.

Heavenly morsel...we guzzled it and why not!

To complete our wonderful lunchtime get together, two of us shared an apply slice with cream.

A great time was had by all.

Hungry Eyes, But…

Pleasing to the eyes...

A couple of weeks ago I was really hungry so I went to my local supermarket cafe to get a bite to eat at lunchtime. Actually brunch. The cafe area is arranged in such a way so that you grab a tray and pick what you want from the buffet then pay at the end of the line – at the cashier.

As I stood in line, the first thing that attracted my two big brown eyes was this sweet thing – a cream bun of sorts. I stood there debating whether to put it on my tray or to resist the desire and just walk past it. I decided that less was healthy so I walked past it but first I took a shot of it so I can at least remember how I resisted great temptation.

Loads of cream weakens the knees...

There was quite a range of sweets and they all looked delicious. I stopped long enough to take this photo too, conscious that people were queuing up behind me. I walked past this one as well. I did not indulge my desire for sweets that day and funnily enough, did not feel deprived at all.

Had I picked up one or the other it would have been because my eyes were bigger than my stomach. That was it – I had hungry eyes!

The lesson I learnt from this experience was that instead of taking food or whatever tickles my fancy or taste buds as in this case, I’d take a photo to remind me that I had triumphed over temptation. Now that makes me happy.