Saturday, 31 March 2012


Whatever time of the year you visit Melbourne, there is always something going on. Whether it's a sporting event, a cultural do, a gastronomic delight, fun and games, a musical show, theatre, art exhibition, it's all happening pretty much all of the time. This is one of the advantages of living in a big metropolitan centre, especially one that prides itself as the cultural and sporting capital of Australia.

A few weeks ago we had the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and these eccentric ladies were entertaining the crowds by the Yarra River.

This post is for Madge's Weekly TopShot meme.

Friday, 30 March 2012


Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Huế during the Nguyen dynasty as the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam. The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 1,760 km north of Ho Chi Minh City. October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city.

This post is part of the Challenge Walk In The Street meme.

More of my photos from Hanoi can be found here and here, and from Ha Long Bay here.


The Dandenong Ranges (commonly just the Dandenongs) are a set of low mountain ranges, rising to 633 metres at Mount Dandenong, approximately 35 km east of Melbourne, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.

After European settlement in the region, the range was used as a main source of timber for Melbourne. The ranges were popular with day-trippers from the 1870s onwards. Much of the Dandenongs were protected by parklands as early as 1882 and by 1987 these parklands were amalgamated to form the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was added to again in 1997. The range experiences light to moderate snow falls a few times most years, frequently between late winter and late spring.

Today, the Dandenongs are home to over 100,000 residents and the area is popular amongst visitors, many of which stay for the weekend at the various Bed & Breakfasts through the region. The popular Puffing Billy Railway, a heritage steam railway, runs through the southern parts of the Dandenongs.

This post is part of Pat's Things in a Row meme.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Since 1859, orchids have been closely associated with the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The products of the Gardens' orchid breeding programme, which began in 1928, deserve a place where they can be displayed in their full splendour. The very design of these orchids is, one could say, 'hand-crafted' by the Gardens' horticultural staff, dedicated to bringing out the finest in any hybrid cross.

Within the Botanic Gardens a dedicated area exists and is designated the National Orchid Garden. Over 1000 species and 2,000 hybrids are now found in the Gardens' collection, with about 600 species and hybrids on display. Every year, more vibrant and enduring hybrids are added on. So that all may admire and enjoy their diversity, richness and beauty, the National Orchid Garden now offers a permanent showcase, the largest display of tropical orchids in the world. If you like flowers, and especially so orchids, you cannot afford to miss seeing the Botanic Gardens in Singapore and this very special place within them.

This post is part of Lesley's Signs, Signs meme,
And also part of my Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


The fountain's water
Plays catch with fish and flower;
Competes with first rain.

This post is part of the Watery Wednesday meme,
and also part of the NF Waters meme.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a Roman building in Ravenna, Italy. It was listed with seven other structures in Ravenna in the World Heritage List in 1996. The UNESCO experts describe it as "the earliest and best preserved of all mosaic monuments, and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect". The mausoleum is laid out in a Greek cross plan with a central dome on pendentives and barrel vaults over the four transepts. The exterior of the dome is enclosed in a square tower that rises above the gabled lateral wings. The brick surface is set with narrow mortar joints and decorated with blind arcades.

The building was formerly the oratory of the Church of the Holy Cross and now contains three sarcophagi. The largest was thought to contain the remains of Galla Placidia (died 450), daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. Her embalmed body was reportedly deposited there in a sitting position, clothed with the imperial mantle. In 1577, however, the contents of the sarcophagus were accidentally burned. The sarcophagus to the right is attributed to Galla's son, Emperor Valentinian III, or to her brother, Emperor Honorius. The one on the left is attributed to her husband, Emperor Constantius III.

It is surmised that the structure was built by Galla Placidia, who was a well-known patron of the arts, to be used as a mausoleum for her and her family. There seems to be no evidence to prove or disprove Galla’s connection to the building. The mausoleum was once connected to the narthex of Santa Croce, the church for the imperial palace, built in 417 but now in ruins. Santa Croce was one of the first buildings commissioned by Galla. The floor has been raised by five feet since the fifth century in order to remain above the rising water along the upper Adriatic coast.

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Aelia Galla Placidia (392 – November 27, 450), daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, was the Regent for Emperor Valentinian III from 423 until his majority in 437, and a major force in Roman politics for most of her life. She was consort to Ataulf king of the Goths from 414-415 until his death, and Empress consort to Constantius III from 417-422 until his death
The lunette over the south wall is thought to depict St. Lawrence standing next to a flaming gridiron. On the opposite side of the gridiron a bookcase is shown with four books, each inscribed with the name of an evangelist. The art historian Gillian Mackie argues that this panel represents the Spanish St. Vincent of Saragossa rather than the Italian St. Lawrence. Mackie cites Galla's connection to Spain; in addition, St. Vincent was martyred by drowning at sea, and Galla and her children had been delivered from shipwreck. The panel seems to be an illustration of the poem about St. Vincent in Prudentius's fifth century Passio Sancti Vincent Martyris. In the poem St. Vincent is ordered to disclose his sacred books to be burned. This explains the cupboard containing the Gospels, which has no satisfactory explanation in the story of St. Lawrence.
The ceiling is all sumptuously decorated with fine mosaic work
The lunette over the north entrance shows a famous mosaic of Christ as the Good Shepherd tending his flocks. He holds an imperial staff joined to the Christian cross, symbolising the combined earthly and heavenly domains. Contrary to later Christian iconography, Christ is shown young and without a beard
The interior of the mausoleum is covered with rich Byzantine mosaics, and light enters through alabaster window panels. The inside contains two famous mosaic lunettes, and the rest of the interior is filled with mosaics of Christian and Apocalyptic symbols. The central bay's upper walls are decorated with four pairs of apostles, including St. Peter and St. Paul, acclaiming a giant gold cross in the center of the dome against a blue sky of stars. Symbols of the four evangelists float among the clouds. The other four apostles appear in the barrel vaults of the transepts
This post is part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.

Monday, 26 March 2012


Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world.

Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. In 2009, Mumbai was named an Alpha world city. Mumbai is also the richest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia. The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands were under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century.

Mumbai became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century. When India became independent in 1947, the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as capital. The city was renamed Mumbai in 1996. Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India, it is also one of the world's top 10 centres of commerce in terms of global financial flow, generating 5% of India's GDP. The city also houses India's Hindi (Bollywood) and Marathi film and television industry. Mumbai's business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India and, in turn, make the city a potpourri of many communities and cultures.

We loved our time in India and Mumbai was an amazing, vibrant, friendly and surprising city to explore. It is definitely a place I would love to revisit!

This post is part of the Mellow Yellow Monday meme.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


The Queens Bridge is a historic road bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. The bridge was built in 1889 and has five wrought iron plate girder spans, and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The bridge was built by contractor David Munro, and replaced a timber footbridge built in 1860. The bridge is a very flat arch, and has five spans constructed of wrought iron plate girders. The bridge rests on iron cylinders filled with concrete, in groups of eight, with arched bracing between. It connects Market Street and William Street on the north bank to Queensbridge Street to the south. Trams on route 55 also cross the bridge.
Queen's Bridge, looking towards the Southwest, with the Crown Casino on the centre right
Standing on Queen's Bridge and looking to the East one sees the old Rail Sandridge Bridge, now converted to a footbridge
The Sandridge Bridge is a historic former railway bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia, which has been redeveloped in 2006 as a new pedestrian and cycle path featuring public art. It is the third bridge on the site and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The bridge is 178.4 metres long and is made up of five spans, measuring in length, from the south bank to the north bank: 36.9 metres.
The Sandridge Bridge
In 2001 the State Government held an expressions of interest process for refurbishment of the bridge, seeking commercial ventures, but the process was not successful and in 2003 Melbourne City Council and the Department of Sustainability and Environment took over. They committed $15.5 million to restore the bridge, create a plaza on the Southbank side and make connections to walkways on the Yarra north bank. In 2005 it was announced that artist Nadim Karam had been commissioned to create ten abstract sculptures in a piece titled "The Travellers", which represents the different types of immigrants who traditionally arrived by train over the bridge from Station Pier. Nine of the sculptures move across the bridge in a 15-minute sequence, moving on bogies running between the two bridge spans. The white arc of the newer Southgate Footbridge can be seen behind the Sandridge Bridge
Crossing the Sandridge Bridge
The Southgate Footbridge
Back on Queen's Bridge looking towards the West, and the Melbourne Exhibition Centre ("Geoff's Shed" commemorating former Premier Geoff Kennett). The King Street Bridge can be seen, taking King Street over the Yarra. The bridge continues south as an elevated viaduct, with the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex built around it in later years. Another footbridge runs parallel to the road bridge and can be seen in front of it
A temporary structure - a bar and café built for the duration of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. This is located on the Southbank end of Queen's Bridge
And another view of the Sandridge Bridge looking from Southbank towards the City
This post is part of Louis' Sunday Bridges meme,
and also part of the Scenic Sunday meme.