Monday, 29 September 2014

KNOCK, KNOCK........Who's there?

As it happened, I was almost too scared to find out.
 

After all, my visitors, although expected, could have been anyone for all I really knew.

You see, since I moved into my current home, I've completely lost the urge to travel. So, instead of going off to see the World I decided to invite the World to see me.

And right at that moment, China was knocking at my front door.

It all started when my daughter told me about renting a spare room in her house through Airbnb (and this isn't an advertisement either because they are worth billions and don't need my help). I started researching the site and, while she didn't go ahead, I decided to try it.

(Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging. It has over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. Founded in August 2008 and headquartered in San Franciso, California, the company is privately owned and operated by Airbnb, Inc.)

I didn't think there would be much interest in my home because I live over an hour outside of Melbourne in a predominantly rural area. However, one week after listing my space I had five booking enquiries. Two I rejected as I didn't feel comfortable after speaking with them via email and three I accepted.

My first guests were from Beijing, China and this was their first visit to Australia. Just after I accepted their booking it occurred to me that I had been very critical of the government of the People's Republic of China on my blog.......not a friendly act of a gracious host.  However, then I remembered that Google (plus social media like Facebook, Instagram etc) is banned in China so....that made me feel better.

I was excited about the prospect of hosting overseas visitors but when I heard the knock at my door I briefly wondered if I had done the right thing. First, you have no idea what they will be like and second, you don't know whether they will feel comfortable in your home.

However, as it happened, opening that front door was an absolute treat. Sussan and Dennis were a gorgeous, fun young couple. And great ambassadors for their country.


Dennis and Sussan happy to star on my blog


Sussan didn't speak English (although her sign language was easy to understand) and Dennis was educated in New York so he did all the talking and interpreting. Dennis works in management and Sussan in marketing. They were in Australia to take their pre-wedding pictures (they dress in their wedding outfits and take pictures in front of iconic places such as the Opera House etc).

They live in a small apartment in Beijing and they both ran around my house amazed at all the space. Sussan was taking photos of everything including the floor to ceiling glass windows which they said they would not be able to have in China because of burglaries. They talked about the smog levels in Beijing and the difficulties in being able to afford a home there. Nonetheless, they had big plans for their future which are probably no different to other young people all over the World. We discussed China's one child policy and how this impacts on those who are keen for larger families. They asked lots of questions about life in Australia and I asked them about their jobs and families.

My home was about the fourth they had stayed in during their visit here so they had tried Vegemite, seen Kangaroos and experienced other Aussie adventures. Being the great Cultural Ambassador that I am we talked and laughed a lot. I showed them some fine Australian wine and how to do a 'Tim Tam slam'. A Tim Tam is a chocolate biscuit which is divine....you take a bite out of each end and put it in your tea and coffee and drink out of it like a straw (I put a video in my side bar if you are really fascinated about this). Yes, sophistication at its finest.

Here is a picture of Sussan trying it .....we all laughed so much.

Sussan covered in chocolate

It was a great experience and another reminder that we all laugh about the same things no matter where we live or what language we speak.

Becoming an Airbnb host is something to consider if you have spare space in your house, you like meeting people and you are happy to share knowledge about your city. The upside is you make new friends, learn a lot about other countries and get to earn some extra money too. It is also a site to consider if you want to travel too.

My next guests come from Shanghai, China - a city which is apparently very different from Beijing. Fingers crossed it will be another positive experience. Knock, knock might be a new series on my blog if my guests have interesting stories to tell.

Have you tried Airbnb as a guest or as a host? Do you think you would be game to try?


And, if you want me to send you a Tim Tam to try the 'slam' you know you only have to ask. Everyone loves chocolate, right?



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Have you ever left an anonymous note for someone?

"No, I never have," I told my friend, firmly shaking my head from side to side.

He was laughing about the fact someone had left him an anonymous note on his front door that said, "You have such a fantastic sound system in your car. I love hearing it morning, noon and night. Thank you so very much." 

"Gee", I said, "who would be so passive aggressive to do that? Why can't they just speak to you in person given they know where you live?"

"Besides", I waxed lyrical, "who could be bothered? The older I get the more chilled and tolerant I am. Why sweat the small stuff when there is so much else to worry about?"

Oh Really, is that so Mother Teresa? Is that what you really think?
 
Well, I know I usually blog out my frustrations which is strangely quite therapeutic but I have never written or given anyone an anonymous note.

At least, that was the case, before I walked out of the cafĂ© straight after that conversation into the car park and saw this.  



What? How? Who? Why?

I started to write imaginary notes in my head like,

FOUND: One pair of coke bottle glasses. I believe they may be yours.

And somehow, just somehow, those words made their way onto the driver's window. Put there by some chilled out, tolerant, really mature Mother Theresa type.  

And, just after I took the above photo, someone else came up and put this on the windscreen.

 
 
Clearly we uptight types need to blog more and vent our feelings to the blogosphere rather than attempt to graffiti car windows.  I mean who would be so passive aggressive to do that kind of thing anyway?
 
Have you ever received an anonymous note or written one to someone else? 

Friday, 19 September 2014

This is not funny at all

Taken by me in 2013 on Australian East Coast


There are reasons why Australia is called "the lucky country".

We have religious and political freedom and live far away from trouble on the largest island in the world.

Relatively....Safe, Peaceful and Blessed.

No, of course it's not perfect. Just ask any refugee who tries to make it by boat only to be dragged off to sit it out in a neighbouring country waiting to taste 'freedom'.

But, perhaps our luck is running out.

Because the largest anti terrorism operation ever seen in Australia occurred early this morning in raids across Sydney and Brisbane.

Why? Because security officers had intercepted telephone calls between people who had hatched plans designed  to “shock” and “horrify” the community, involving the “random selection of persons to rather gruesomely execute”.

In other words they planned to kidnap people off public streets and behead them with a sword, film it and put in on social media.

All in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Like, what the hell? Aren't those people in the Middle East somewhere? Far away?

No. Apparently not.

And what have I heard people say all day in reaction to these raids?
This is just a pathetic beat up by the Government to turn people's attention away from internal domestic politics.
Seriously. People have their heads buried in the sand (which after today's arrests may have been the safest place for them... but....).

It's time to get REAL.

ISIL is growing rapidly and exponentially. In every country.

According to the CIA, the group has tripled its size in three months and it is seriously cashed up and armed.

And alarmingly, hundreds of vulnerable young kids from Canada, Britain, Australia, the US, Europe and other largely non Muslim nations are being recruited on the ground by ISIS supporters and targeted by social media campaigns to run away and join them.

Surely, the absolute last thought that crosses a parent’s mind when their young teenager goes missing is that they fled the country to join a terrorist organisation.

An organisation so violent that even al-Queda wants nothing to do with them.

Most recruits are young men but many females are also joining.

Just read the media headlines to see how young some of these recruits are;

A 19 year old Gold Coast female extremist shot and dismembered in Syria
- MORE Australian women joining the jihadists 
- French 14 year old detained on suspicion of travelling to Syria  

- Two Austrian teenagers, 14 and 15, who joined the Islamic State are persuading other teenagers to follow suit
- Six arrested in France over female Jihadi recruitment
- Spain locks up 14 year old on way to Syria
- Austrian poster girl Jihadist believed to have been killed
- Three young Minnesota women have travelled to Syria to support the ISIS terror group.


Two teenage Austrian girls who became the postergirls of ISIS, one of them was recently killed in Syria
 
How do you go from being a teenager in middle America, Austria, Australia to pledging allegiance to the blood thirsty Islamic State?

If ever this World needed strong leadership and our kids needed strong guidance it is now.

However, I am just not sure how you fight this kind of war when social media is being used so successfully to recruit, captivate and promote a cause. The tentacles are getting longer all the time unless something is done to halt its growth.

We need to be talking about it with kids not pretending it does not exist. And hopefully the world's leaders will do what is necessary to stop this evil spreading further. Because, as with every organisation of its type, there is someone sitting at the top making a grab for power. They need to be removed. Quickly.

Thoughts? 



Monday, 15 September 2014

Cleanliness is next to Dogliness thanks to Dettol

(A Giveaway with Dettol - CLOSED 30/9/2014) Winner Sancha Martin 
   
Stella spent the majority of her last Dog Obedience Class under the car.
 
She wasn't moving for anyone, even Elvis.
 
She finally crawled out just when the testing started. She trotted in, did what she had to do and was out of there again as quickly as she could.
 
Thank goodness that's over. 
 
Stella doesn't appreciate formal education it seems. I feel she may be the  practical kind.
 
So, we've been training her to do more useful things.....like cleaning. Seriously. Watch this fully grown Golden Retriever Grace clean.
 


 
Learning to pick up her toys is a start. This breed likes working which is just as well as she creates lots of work. While Stella is very cute she is also really messy. Muddy paw prints, weeds she has dragged in from the garden, dog hair on floors, furniture and clothes...... 
 
I have had to rethink how I clean. I have bought an electrostatic mop, lint brushes, hand sanitisers, and some different healthy cleaning products.
 
And luckily, a couple of weeks ago I was offered some Dettol products to try. Of course I jumped at the chance.

I've always used Dettol's soap and antiseptic but have never tried any of their other products. In fact, I didn't even know they had any other products.

As well as cleaning products Dettol has a range of good personal hygiene products which I was able to try.

I particularly liked the Dettol Hand Sanitiser. I thought I was fastidious about hand washing after that cruise I took... but now I am even moreso since Stella came to stay.
 
I am now just looking forward to the day when my cleaning lady grows up some more and learns everything she needs to know. You know, so she can really clean up her own mess and help out more.

A girl can dream. Watch this space.
 

 Grace, a role model Stella can aspire to be like one day.
(not a pic of Stella)
 

 GIVEAWAY ENTRY

I have a pack of Dettol Cleaning and Personal Hygiene Products (to the value of $120) to give away to one lucky commenter on this post. 
 
NO, the cleaning lady is not included. You will have to get your own.

Also, if anyone has any cleaning tips to pass on please do. I Stella could use them.
 
Note: Entry is open to all readers and the winner will be drawn using Random.org 
 You can comment about the post, leave a tip about cleaning, what you think about Dettol or just say Hi. If you do not have a Google account please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win. Entries close at 5pm AEST 30/9/2014

GIVEAWAY WINNER is Sancha (Martin?), 13th commenter. Drawn using Random.org 9pm 30/9/2014