I know of nowhere else in the world where complete strangers can come to the door and be welcomed in and offered hospitality.

Friday morning on our way into the Gobi, we met a nomad couple and their grandson. A neighbour was there too as they watched a Nadaam being televised from Inner Mongolia. They have been on this site for two weeks and will move again when the sheep, goats and cattle need fresh grass.

On the stove was “a meat dish” which was subsequently identified as sheep testicles. It looked like a favourite snack of the men as they chomped into them.

We took a photo of the grandson and produced a tiny print via Polaroid’s phone app. We asked if they would like a group photo. Yes was the enthusiastic answer as they dived for their traditional clothes to wear for the shot. We left them with the photos and a tin of biscuits. They left us a lasting impression.

Kyoko Muraji runs her small ramen restaurant in Gion on the principles of Omotenashi, a form of hospitality that anticipates customer needs and provides a relaxing atmosphere.

We selected the Black Ramen and the Chicken Lemon Ramen. Dinner is served around two square communal tables with a maximum of 16 persons at a time.


It was the stories of the children and their distraught parents that hit hard and moved you to tears.

Sadako Sasaki famously folded over 1300 paper cranes in the hope that by completing 1000 of them, she would have her wish met be cured of the leukaemia caused by the atomic bomb. These are some of the tiny cranes she made from medicine wrappings and other paper scraps. She died eight months after her diagnosis.

This is the tricycle that belonged to a little boy who was about to turn four. His father buried the child and the tricycle together.


No more Hiroshimas.

img_1817Last night we walked past a restaurant that we heard before we saw it. We decided to get in on some of the fun tonight at Ni-No-Ni on a rainy night in Fukuoka.

We ordered eggplant, green vegetables, pork and garlic shoots and dumplings. Sesame balls with red bean paste and almond tofu with black sesame seeds topped off the meal.

If you measure the success of a day out by the number of customers, and the hopes you had of selling enough of your items so as to cover a bit more than the cost of your site and a cup of coffee, then it was disappointing.

If you measure the success of a day out by the opportunity to people watch, by the breeze and overcast skies that tempered the heat, and by conversations with fellow suitcase fillers, it was a good day.


Suitcase rummage 28 March 2015 - 1

Suitcase Rummage 28 March 2015 - 3 Suitcase Rummage 28 March 2015 - 2

Suitcase Rummage - 28 March 2015 - 4

Yesterday afternoon we dropped in to see what was left of the England-India match after India were bowled out cheaply for 153 runs. Our visit was all in the name of introducing a Canadian friend to one form of the game of cricket (the One Day International).

As the home team wasn’t playing, attendance figures were very low. It didn’t stop the fans of both teams enjoying the short game. The Barmy Army (England fans) were in full swing and song.

India fans - Brisbane 20 Jan 2014 Pirate Eng v India - 21 Jan 2014 - Brisbane Barmy Army

If not for a chance glimpse at a bill poster outside the Lazy Bones live music venue in Marrickville, we would have been blissfully unaware of the fact that Ursula Yovich was appearing there with Alma Music last night.

As well as a stellar stage, film and television career as an actress, Ursula Yovich is also a talented singer and songwriter. Adm Ventoura (bass player, composer and producer) is the man behind Alma Music, a collaborative and moving feast of musicians.

And BTW, Ms Yovich’s voice is AMAZING.

Ursula Yovich gig 2Ursula Yovich gig 3Ursula Yovich gig

Last week on the ABC panel program Q & A, Arrernte elder Rosalie Kunoth-Monks responded in the most eloquent and dignified way when another panelist touted assimilation as a solution to ‘the Aboriginal problem’.  Actions in the name of assimilation have inflicted much pain and anguish on the first persons of Australia, none the least of which were those of the Stolen Generation.

You know, I have a culture. I am a cultured person. I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being. John shows what is an ongoing denial of me. I am not an Aboriginal or indeed, indigenous. I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, First Nations person, a sovereign person from this country.

I didn’t come from overseas. I came from here. My language, in spite of whiteness trying to penetrate into my brain by assimilationists. i am alive, I am here and now, and I speak my language. I practise my cultural essence of me. Don’t try and suppress me and don’t call me a problem. I am not the problem.

I have never left my country nor have I ceded any part of it. Nobody has entered into a treaty or talked to me about who I am.

I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, female elder from this country. Please remember that.

I am not the problem.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks


Sad to wake to the news this morning of the death of actor Richard Griffiths.  He leaves a great body of stage, film and television work behind as a testament to his talent.

The 1990s series Pie in the Sky was a particular favourite of mine. Here Griffiths (as policeman and restaurateur Henry Crabbe) worked alongside Maggie Steed (Margaret Crabbe) and Malcolm Sinclair (Assistant Chief Constable Freddy Fisher).

I was fortunate to see the three actors play together in Alan Bennett‘s The History Boys when the National Theatre stage production toured Australia in 2006 not to mention the entire ensemble cast.

Vale Richard Griffiths.

Pie in the Sky - radio times

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