Monday, February 22, 2021



Beautiful hydrangeas, Christchurch, NZ

Ten years ago this month,  in February 2011, I started the Red Cardinal blog as a way to keep in touch with overseas family and friends.  I had no idea where it would lead, and have loved the many friendships gathered along the way.

What a joy it has been to meet some of you in person, on our travels both overseas and in Australia.

2011 turned out to be a very tumultuous year for the world, as well as for us.

Google image, Christchurch cathedral

In January that year we flew across the Tasman to the beautiful city of Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand.

We were on our Summer holiday.

We adored Christchurch, the flowers, the Cathedral in the City Square, the gentle Avon River and the willow trees, and the attractive architecture.

After a pleasant few days, we flew south to Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu.

We settled in to our lodgings, turned on the television, and were deeply shocked to learn that a massive flood had devastated our city back home in Australia.

Brisbane had been inundated by its worst flood in history.

Thousands of people lost their homes and livelihoods as the Brisbane River burst its banks and flooded vast areas, leaving homes and businesses covered in toxic mud as it receded.

We felt so helpless, so far away, and although our house is high on a hill, we did not know until later that it was surrounded by floods and no-one could come in our out of our area for three days.  Power was gone for days, and our neighbours took barbeques out into the street to cook and save the meat in their freezers.

This was the road I drive on most days to go to the shops or the city - nearby building were flooded to their roof-tops.

Ten years on, the scars remain for many people and it took a 'Mud Army' of volunteers to begin to make the city liveable once more.

We continued our holiday which included another five days or so going to Milford Sound, Dunedin, and back to Christchurch to fly home, always wondering what we would see on our return.

February came, and I began this blog.  Some months later I removed many of the early posts, but I do remember that in the first one I included a picture of the Tintoretto painting 'The Risen Christ' at the Queensland Art Gallery.

On this day, the 22nd February, we were to have another shock.

Beautiful Christchurch was struck by a tremendous earthquake, flattening much of the city we had enjoyed just a few weeks before.  Even the hotel where we had stayed was destroyed.  

185 people died in this tragedy, and the world watched in horror.

The cathedral tower came tumbling down, and only now is it being restored.

Christchurch has been rebuilding these past ten years, and I hope one day we can return and see it again.

Costumes for a punt ride on the Avon, Christchurch

March 11, 2011, the world was again shaken when a catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster hit the Japanese city of Fukushima.

The death toll of 18,500 was appalling and deeply shocking.

We watched the news in horror...

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan.

I continued tentatively with the new blog...

I was thrilled when my first international follower found me:

Debra Turner of The Savvy Shopper.  We are still friends today - thank you Debbie, and I always enjoy your tales of life and shopping in New York.

2011 limped on, and on 3rd April, we had our own personal disaster one Sunday afternoon.

Driving home after a visit to my father, travelling on a narrow highway in the country, we were suddenly confronted by a vehicle coming at high speed across the centre line and directly towards us.

In the split second before it hit, Mr. Red Cardinal was able to edge the car a little closer to the side of the road, saving our lives.

In that one second I believed I was about to die, and passed out.

After the impact, our car had been spun around and down the embankment beside the road.  The cabin was full of smoke from the airbags, and the radio was still playing.  I thought we had better get out and looked up to see people on the road looking at us, who said the ambulance was on its way.  That is how I realised I had been unconscious for some time.

We had serious injuries and went to Emergency in two separate vehicles.

For many months we were confined to home, and depended on the kindness of many people,  - family, neighbours, friends and strangers.

A proposed trip to Canada in May was cancelled.

But we survived.

The Blog continued...

Late in 2011 I travelled alone to Canada to visit our daughter and her firstborn little boy.  And to experience to wonders of Autumn in a cold climate.

It was beautiful.

We did Halloween..

To end 2011, the Red Cardinals had a small celebration to mark our 40th Wedding Anniversary.

How the years have flown -

The Blog is now 10...

and we are preparing to celebrate our 50th...

We could never have imagined a different kind of catastrophe would envelop us - a global pandemic called Covid-19.

Here's to a brighter year in 2021, as vaccinations commence all over the world.

Be safe and take care


Red Cardinal found in a thrift shop on the 2011 trip to Canada

Friday, February 12, 2021


 This Sunday is Valentine's Day

Bravo to Mr. Red Cardinal, who bought me pale pink roses today, so we can enjoy them all weekend...

Fifty years ago last Saturday, we announced our Engagement to be married, and a small notice appeared in the daily newspaper, as was custom at the time.

My new fiance gave me a beautiful solitaire diamond ring, which looked something like this:

Sadly, I no longer have that ring.
It was stolen when our house was burgled in 1999.
I was absolutely devastated, and was never happy living in that house again.
Eventually we moved across town to our much-loved present house.

An insurance claim paid for a new ring, also a large solitaire diamond in a simpler setting.

I have been wearing the second ring over 20 years, so it has become part of my life too.

Some lovely Royal news, as Princess Eugenie has given birth to a bouncing baby boy, another great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth.

Eugenie looks like a nice young woman, who has earned her own living after gaining her University degree in English and Art History at Newcastle University, U.K. (which was also my B.A. from the University of Qld.)

Here is Eugenie in a rare outing with her Granny, Her Majesty...
who just happens to be wearing her wattle brooch, gifted by Australia.
Long-term readers know I purchased a replica of it from the Buckingham Palace Gift Shop when we visited London a few years ago.

In other special news, Brisbane looks forward to an exciting exhibition coming in June:
'European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York'.

Over 70 paintings will journey across the world.  They span 500 years of Art History from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Brisbane rarely sees works by such iconic names as Titian, Rembrandt, Raphael, Monet, Van Gogh, and many more.

I am really looking forward to both seeing it and working as a tour guide.
What an honour, to see these works in our own city, instead of having to fly to distant countries.
It is the perfect pick-me-up during these dreary Covid times..

May your Valentine brighten your day..


Friday, February 5, 2021


Hello February!

It has been a busy week here at the Red Cardinal nest.

The tree-loppers have visited.  I learnt the meaning of the term 'Raising the Crown'...

Nothing to do with a coronation in a Royal Family:

see in the above photo, the lower branches are removed allowing the upper tree to become a crown.  Who knew??

The shady Ficus (Moreton Bay fig)  had a very severe Crown Raising...

I hope the plants beneath do not die of sunstroke!

Crowning the Ficus

That black shadow above the dead palm branch is the tree lopper up in the tree with his chainsaw, throwing branches down and over the fence..

These two trees, beloved by the cockatoos for roosting, were removed.

All male persons present insisted they were dead!

It was certainly entertaining..

One tree on the far side of the pool was removed so quickly I did not see it happen.

On Tuesday, I had a long visit to the Dentist, and emerged with not one, but two new Crowns ... of a rather less glamorous variety:

After that excitement, a day or so later there was a loud noise in the fire-place chimney -

which went on all afternoon as we tried to figure out what it was.

Eventually we saw a bird flop down into the fireplace, but immediately fly back into the chimney.

I googled 'Bird caught in chimney', as you do, and followed instructions involving a cardboard box fixed in the front, with a little torch inside to attract the bird.

We were supposed to be very quiet and the bird would come down.

Not this bird.

It went to sleep during the night, thankfully, and began fluttering again in the morning.  I rang the RSPCA, and two lovely people arrived a couple of hours later.

Not Mr. Cardinal, this is the bird rescue man who charmed the bird into his hand..

The bird was an Indian Myna, an introduced species, so was not taken to a Vet.  It was released immediately and flew to the nearest tree, without a backward glance, none the worse for wear after 24 hours captivity.  We wondered what its friends and family said when it reappeared....

Mr. Red Cardinal has been laying turf  -
the better to walk to the pool area:

Whenever he is missing, I know he is out there with the hose...

While all these shenanigans were going on, Mr. or Ms. Snake made another appearance, at the same corner of the pool..

We are proceeding with caution at the moment....

Tomorrow is Saturday, and we plan an expedition to a Cafe in a distant suburb, followed by a visit to Bunnings, the hardware store for everything and everyone...

What are you planning for the weekend?

Be safe!


PS The twins are doing really well, and meeting all their milestones beautifully.  They prefer to keep their privacy, and we are hoping to visit them again in the near future.