Saturday, June 28, 2008

Italy and my family

Trieste is set between the sea and the hills; it is the most northern point of Italy along the Adriatic Sea. The streets follow one another and their exquisite places of great architectural value recall the extraordinary development that the city enjoyed during the nineteenth century. It is also known for its ‘Bora’ (the wind).
My favourite’s things about Trieste are visiting my family, the coffee, food, fashion and the language. There is nothing like watching a Disney cartoon in Italian – ‘Beauty and the Beast” at least I know the story.

This will be my 7th time back to Trieste to see my family – sadly my Zio Istriano passed away in 2002. Now all the brothers are passed on, Giordano born(1911 - 1996 circ), Bruno (1913 -1974 circ), Prometeo(1916 - 1937) (died at age 20 circ) Spartaco (1920 - 1991), & Istriano (1922 - 2002). Zio Istriano is survived by his wife Liliana and they had no children. Liliana and her sister Edda live in the family home in Prosseco. Out of 5 sons only two had children and they were girls, Pauline & Ivana (Giordano), Maria Serena (Spartaco).

My cousin Maria Serena is married to Eugenio and have a son Emanuele (13yrs). Their hospitality has been immeasurable. They live in a quaint village San Dorligo Vale, 20 minutes east of Trieste city and 15 minutes from the Slovenian border. Dorglio is picturesque with a church in the centre of the village, surrounded by typical Italian houses with window boxes full of geraniums, in the valley encircled by mystical green trees. The very nature of the village is charming, restful and enchanting. It really does take your breath away.

Ian has fallen in love with Trieste; he finds the countryside irresistible, the food delightful and the winding hilly roads exciting. However Ian has not got use to the idea of when you have a cup of coffee in the café you stand up and its finished in about 5 minutes maximum as opposed to a leisurely coffee in Fremantle (WA) that can take any where from 15 mins to half an hour, even longer if you are trying to rest your weary feet.

It is good to see that Ian feels the same away about Italy as I do; it is truly a beautiful country. Its people can be emotional, exciting, frantic, warm and friendly. I dare say we will be back in the future.

Plazza Unita


We took a drive to Capodistria (Koper) – 18 km South East of Trieste. The country side is very similar to that of Trieste. Capodistria is the major port for Slovenia. As this is a border town, both Italian and Slovenian languages are spoken. However as we do not speak either language it was just as well we made ourselves understood with my broken Italian and pigeon English. Things seemed a little cheaper in Koper. We went through a historical area; the streets are narrow and cobbled stoned. The people we met were warm and friendly eager to please. It was a very enjoyable afternoon.

Saint Servolo Castle:

This castle sits high on the top of the hill over looking Trieste and Slovenia. It is approximately 5 kms from San Doligo Vale. The castle was built in the middle ages, it looks quite spooky and medieval sitting high on the hill and can be seen from Trieste.
The castle is now utilised as a restaurant.

Castello di Miramare:

This is my daughter’s favourite castle; she fell in love with this place when she spent several months in Italy as a teenager.
The castle sits on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in alls its splendour, beckoning you to explore its walls. Its very existence screams romanticism. Then when you read its history you find that Maximilian of Hapsburg built this beautiful castle for his wife as he loved her immensely. He then went off to explore the seas and he was killed by the Mexicans. His beautiful wife Charlotte of Belgium was heart broken and lived alone in this castle, she became crazy and died at the age of 90ish.
The castle is magnificent, and the grounds impeccable there are trees and gardens from all over the world.

Lunch at “The Cavallino” (The little horse) Prosecco Italy:

This is an exquisite restaurant; its speciality is pesce “fish”. This was a family lunch shared by all. There is nothing like an extended leisurely lunch, sunshine, lots of exceptional food, wine and splendid company.
It was lovely to spend time with Zia Liliana & Edda, Maria Serena, Eugeino, Emanuele, Ian and myself. What an extraordinary time!
Ian was mesmerised by the speed and fluency of the Italian language spoken by Zia Liliana & Edda, it was like a whirlwind passing through, that lasted though-out lunch and late into the afternoon.
We spent all afternoon reminiscing about times gone by and Zio Istriano, who we all sadly miss.
I can not count the number of times I have been told off for only allowing 5 days of our holiday to Italy, so we have promised to return.

Ian and I have enjoyed this part of our holiday immensely and have promised to return and do an extensive tour of Italy together with the vineyards. I have assured Ian that when we return home to Perth I will no longer be the good Italian wife, this ends when we leave Italy, we go back to normal life and you bring my cup of tea in every morning – rather than me laying out your breakfast every morning. Oh also that means we both do the dishes.

Next we are off to Surrey then Yorkshire and lastly London.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland

Londonderry Arms - Sir Winston Churchill holiday place

Giants Causeway

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

We arrived in Dublin in the morning and wanted to go directly to Belfast. – Our choices were €14.00 by bus or €40.00 by train and only half an hour difference between the bus and train. Naturally we wanted as much spending money as possible so the bus/coach it was. It was a pleasant trip, spacious for a coach and we sat in the first seats, best view. What delightful countryside, so green, I looked for some leprechauns but alas did not see any. However at one point along the journey I thought I did see one sitting on a stoned wall and pointed him out to Ian and he dismissed it by saying it was a figment of my imagination. I still think I saw one. Although Ian did say he saw some fairies in Dublin. Now, whose figment of imagination are you going to believe?

In the past I have travelled through the Republic of Ireland and really enjoyed the Irish hospitality, music, lifestyle, openness, sociability and once in Ireland you can not help but try the local brew. I have seen most of the south, however whilst living in the UK I never really got to go to Belfast, and I really wanted to share the Irish experience with Ian, so we decided to do Belfast and Dublin as a whistle stop tour.

After our obligatory procrastination of where we are going to stay and how to read the map, we found accommodation at Katie’s Bed & Breakfast. It was quite central on University St Belfast, which was in the university area, off course with a street name as such. The B & B was run by a seemingly traditional Irish couple in their 50’s or so with broad accents which Ian kept saying pardon. The place had 4 floors and we were on the third floor, a small clean tidy room, with fresh fruit which really was not fresh by Australian standards. The bathroom and toilets were on the next floor down, again relatively clean but very small.
This luxury cost us €25.00 each which did include a cooked breakfast, so €50.00 a night which was cheaper than most of the hotels we called that were fully booked. After settling in we decided to go for dinner, again the usual decision making task, and which restaurant will we go to. At this point in our trip I was missing my own cooking and was desperate for some spaghetti, I was having carbohydrate withdrawals. We had spotted an Italian restaurant earlier which a taxi driver had told us was the best Italian in Belfast, for me the decision was easy, Ian came along. It was probably the best in Belfast, but not the best I have ever had, but it was good for the time and place and it is worth a visit if you are in Belfast.

We booked a day trip to County Antrim to see the top end and the Giants Causeway. What a spectacular sight, an unusual phenomenon, well worth the visit. A long the way we stopped at a few interesting places such as Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge, Highlights of the city tour were, the wharf were they built the Titanic and the cranes Samson and Goliath, for Ian the Guinness brewery was number 1. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to go round the brewery; we will save that for the next time.
A good way to see the city is to go on a city tour; this gives you a good idea of what you want to see

It was interesting going through the hotspots of Belfast- Falls Road and Shanklin Road – it was sad and somewhat depressing to go through these streets to see how people lived and how many people died and what was it all about, being a ‘Royalist’ or a ‘Republican’.
It is good to see how Belfast is rebuilding and becoming more united.

A great three days whistle stop - Dublin was as usual simply the best! next time we will spend more time in Dublin.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Our Holiday - Glasgow

Australian Midwives singing "Waltzing Matilda"

Our holiday to date:

The conference is now finished and our long overdue holiday starts. It is amazing how long it takes me to switch off from work, and then do you really switch off. I know I find it extremely difficult as I am always thinking of things to do and to make midwifery better for all. The mistake that I make at times is to check my email that is some times a cardinal sin.
My husband Ian keeps me on track and soon tells me its time to switch off.

So now it’s off to see the rest of Glasgow. We hire a car; buy a map and the arguments begin. I am navigating, Ian is driving – like a typical male he thinks he can do it all, navigate and drive and hence the arguments begin. Our trip begins with Ian’s choices; going to Falkirk to see the Falkirk wheel, being a water man he is into these things. The Falkirk Wheel is more than just the World’s first rotating boatlift. It is a symbol heralding the dawn of Britain’s new canal age. Its architecture has been likened to double headed Celtic axes, or vast propeller symbolic of Glasgow’s shipbuilding era. Yet whatever your imagination sees. The Falkirk Wheel is already Scotland’s most recognisable Monument to the future.
As the wheel turns, water and boats contained in its two large gondolas are transferred between an aqueduct linked to the upper Union canal and a basin feeding to the adjacent Forth & Clyde Canal, 25 metres below.

Then it was off to St Andrews – the home of golf for the élite. You need to book a year in advance to play on the old course – so poor Ian did not get a game, oh I forgot it cost £130.00 pounds for 18 holes. So we did the next best thing that was to go to the driving range and hit 100 balls. Ian was delighted he was like a kid, over the moon, smiling from ear to ear – it was great to see, we had so much fun. Then it was off to the pro shop, and it was hats, pins, balls for all the family – bearing in mind weight – our suitcases thank God for that otherwise it would have been a new set of golf clubs no less from St Andrews.

St Andrews is such a quaint town, beautiful, historical and the country side is just remarkable, so green, fresh, and peaceful with an air of elitism. We had a posh sandwich, a beer and watched the ladies and gentleman play golf and for a short while we imagined we were the gentry of the time.
It was hard to get Ian to leave he would of stayed if we were not on such a short time frame.

The teddy bears were very nice but to expensive and I would rather have my Harrods bear so the next best thing was a photo!

The Harry Potter Castle

It was now off to Edinburgh we did not stay there long it was enough time for Ian to see the Castle have dinner and a beer.
We decided to go on to Berwick Upon Tweed a coastal town near Newcastle and find a bed and breakfast, that was not as easy as it sounds. Berwick Upon Tweed is such a beautiful place an old fashioned town so picturesque. It was 11pm when we finally found accommodation unfortunately for us there was a wedding in the town and all the beds were taken.

We stayed at a fantastic Bed & Breakfast; they were an English couple who have lived there for 32 years.
The scenic drive from Berwick Upon Tweed to Leeds was littered with castles, fields of green, sheep and hedged country roads until the A1.

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Meeting the family, Ian's sisters, Beatrice, Liz, Norma. A great day, good Yorkshire hospitality, warm, friendly and down to earth. The weather was unbelievable sunny,even hot, Harry got sunburned.

Off to London for the weekend, then Italy on this space.
Next instalment Ireland North & South

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Highlights of the ICM 2008

Highlights of the Glasgow Congress for me:

The opening ceremony with 3500 thousand midwives all sharing, networking, learning and caring.
• Randomly selected to form the guard of honour to meet Princess Anne – I did answer the Princess when she spoke -I did not say much - “yes ma'am I am from Australia” and managed the courtesy!!! my knee still intact. The Princess commented on the costumes and said ‘some of these costumes would be difficult to deliver a baby in”. The constant clicking of the cameras was quite off putting and gave me a tiny insight, as to how invasive it can be for the Royal family.

• The Plenary sessions with Paul Martin, Heloisa Lessa (Brazil), Eugene Declerq and Sarah Brown were all in there own ways inspiring, informative and at times humbling. Lots of food for thought.
• I had never considered the other side of the argument regarding Cesarean section (c/s) rate, that in developing countries the Cesarean rate is less than 5% which in its self is problematic as this means women who need c/s are not getting them therefore dying unnecessarily.
• Workshop 4 – Sages femmes – what an interesting perspective in which they work. A group of independent midwives who have insurance from the Swiss government which enables them to work independently offering women real choice regarding the birth place.
• Meeting Carolyn McIntosh a fellow blogger, to share the same ideas about online learning and the advancement of the computer age was just fantastic. To hear her present, and be able to understand the same computer language was refreshing. Well done Carolyn.
• Professor Cathy Warwick – Head of Kings College Hospital and the New General Secretary of the RCM, said that “support is crucial to strengthening midwifery, and working together as a midwifery team is vital for the profession and each other”. An inspirational speaker.
• The daily newspaper “Congress Daily” typically British, as renowned for its Tabloids. The paper reflected on the previous days events.
• Plenary speaker, Ana Plona Mivsek, made me re think the term servant and its meaning within the profession of Midwifery. To be a willing servant (caring and equal) as opposed to a unwilling servant which then produces negative feedback (anger and resentful). The concluding slide show to the music of Madonna Hey You was very effective and thought provoking.

The Scottish Gala dinner was very disappointing – the venue (the science building) was not suitable for over 1000 guests, there were no directions or instructions as to where we were to go, and it was not an ideal venue for networking, no places (or not enough) to sit and chat. The dinner was a buffet style stand up meal, tasty but I do not enjoy queuing and having to stand to eat in my evening wear, very, very disappointing. There was Scottish dancing which did prove to be popular, and there was also a jazz band for those who wanted a slow dance, this was also popular.
Well, that’s it for tonight, will have to reflect and read my notes to be able to give further highlights. There has been lots of dinners and drinks as well, photos still to come.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

ICM opening ceremony: 28 Triennial Congress

International Confederation of Midwives – Glasgow Congress 1-5 June 2008

The opening:

ICM president welcomes the world’s midwives from 90 countries, 3500 midwives came to Glasgow to share, learn, network and have fun.
Dame Karlene Davis opened the 28th Triennial Congress of the international Confederation of Midwives. The Dame made special tribute to the 475 Australians, 200+ New Zealand, and the 150ish Canadian midwives that attended, by far the Aussies made the most noise.

On a more serious note the Dame also said she wanted ‘to see an urgent international summit to reverse the trend of mothers dying in the 50 countries unable to meet the requirements of the millennium development goals in 2015. The Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed all the delegates, and thanked the midwives of the world for their hard work. He also ‘wanted to mobilise a new campaign’ to reduce the number of women dying each year in childbirth, which stands at half a million.
It has been a long time since I had to stand and sing “God Save the Queen” it bought back many memories of growing up in NZ.

The opening was spectacular, with entertainment from the traditional District Pipe Band, what extraordinary talent the Scottish pipers have. The Scottish Opera with its orchestra, soprano Kate Valentine and Tenor Federico ALepre were sensational – The RCM choir were brave, Irish dancers – the children were fantastic, the amazing talent of the Scottish youth theatre the Welsh choir was superb, but what got us dancing in the isles were The Cavern Beatles from Liverpool – just awesome.
It was a proud moment sharing this opening with 3500 midwives all working towards the same goal, working together to save lives of women and babies, providing the best evidenced based, informed choice to women. I feel so inspired and proud to be a midwife.

I was at this point asked to represent the Australian contingent to meet The Princess Anne, to dress in national costume and meet the princess woh, I was chosen randomly – God knows why me! My first thought was, I have to learn how to curtsey, that can't be that hard surely, what a day!
Watch this space for more news.


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