From Australia to Austria – the journey begins.


When do your holidays actually begin?  Well, I say probably months in advance as you begin researching and anticipating, which is exactly what I have been doing!

The excitement of anticipation is part of, and almost as enjoyable AS the whole holiday experience but today – in this wild blustery weather (one entire state here had all its power knocked out by wild storms!) we physically begin our epic journey from Australia to Austria.

Tonight we stay at Sydney Airport so that we can be there bright and early Friday morning ( And I hope by then all these storms have passed out of our way!) so we can take our first flight to Singapore.

My husband – (who travels for work) wants me to go to a particular Persian restaurant in Singapore – that’s the only reason we are going there.   I suspect it is also to get more frequent flyer points.  :D

The next day we fly to the Philippines and spend a day and a night there and this is where our real journey starts and hey hey hey….my travel savvy husband got this amazing deal and we’re flying business class!  Whoo!  (I am SO spoiled!)

We do the loooong flight to Rome – in comfort😀 and have a very rushed day seeing the sights there…stay overnight before flying to Germany.

My husband wants to see a concentration camp in Germany –Dachau. I’m not altogether looking forward to this as I know it is going to be extremely difficult for me.  Just reading about what went on there affects me greatly, but this is just something he wants to do.

From Germany we hire a car and drive to Austria.

We picked Austria because it seems a little less expensive than Switzerland – (which is really where I wanted to go), but will still have similar beautiful countryside to explore which will make my camera happy.

We have about ten days to enjoy the sights of the cities of Salzburg and Vienna – and I’m not generally a city loving person but these two places seem quite interesting… as well as peruse the beautiful scenic “Sound of Music” countryside before we fly to Turkey- which I am a little nervous about to be honest.

We have a day and night there in Istanbul before we fly to Abu dhabi – (which is a word my lips struggle with for some reason)

We’ll have three days in the stinking heat there ( You know how much I loooove heat – not!) where we will go and explore a desert as well as the city before we finally fly back home again!

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about all this but REALLY looking forward to it as well especially from a photography perspective.  My husband, as usual, is looking forward to the food.

I’m going to try and keep a regular blog going as we travel to document our trip so as to share some of our experiences and the sights we see in these countries for any other travellers who might be interested on our perspective.

I have read over and over again that the customer service in Austria is terrible, that staff, and indeed some travellers have said, that Austrians in general are quite rude. I’d like to think we’re going to prove them wrong, and I sincerely hope we do!

I would LOVE to stay in some kind of rustic alpine hut while in Austria but most it seems, involve long mountainous  hikes to get to them.  We’ll see what we can find.  I definitely do want to get out and do some long walks though….to walk off all the lovely cakes and pastries that I’ve read which are infamous in Austria.



Images in this blog post courtesy of Pixabay.






Posted in Australia, culture, fear of flying, husbands, life experiences, photography, Travel, travel blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Some things are just weird.

I walked out of my bedroom today to go and shout upstairs to my husband who was working in his office up there, to please bring the vacuum cleaner downstairs next time he came down….and that is when I turned and saw this in the doorway leading to the kitchen.


How freaky odd is that!

It has been a bit windy today and admittedly the back door WAS open – and fair enough for the letter and the empty plastic bottle… but to blow a banana right out of the fruit bowl and partway around a corner is simply impossible!

This is where the banana HAD been sitting, in that bowl.


I just don’t know…
I can’t figure it out.

No one else was home except my husband and I.

I just HOPE it’s not going to start again…..

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Becoming the machine…


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Screens in the form of phones, ipads, tablets, laptops have become such an integral part of society and so very quickly.

As a photographer and avid people watcher I have to say that people are becoming more and more boring to watch these days.  Unless they are banging into a pole because they’re walking like zombies with their head in a phone bubble.  That’s pretty funny, but sad really.

Our need to be “connected” to the online world is something that has literally taken over the world and I’m concerned about it.

The reason I am worried is because I foresee a whole generation of people who are going to be shaped by this experience of growing up – as part of the machine -the device…the screen…the worlds within it, instead of in the real live tactile, happening right now world!

Don’t get me wrong, I embrace technology.  It has many positives, and after all I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn’t considering I am sitting here on my bed with my laptop in front of me typing this.

What bothers me is the insidiousness of how the machine creates psychological addiction in so many people.

You don’t think you are addicted? Keep a tally and record how many times you check your phone in a 24 hour period.  Most people would be surprised.

Count how many hours per day you spend on the internet, in whatever way you access it.

Just how much time do you spend on facebook? Playing games?

I honestly don’t mean to make people feel guilty – just aware.  Well, maybe a little bit guilty.

Already it is being recognised that this addiction to technology is an actual REAL addiction like any other, causing anxiety, depression and personality changes in some cases.  The most frightening thing is that children are being affected – and not just affected but shaped.

It’s hard. To be a parent is difficult enough as it is, but to try and restrict or shield or monitor your kids online usage and activity is a nightmare.  As if the plethora of all the other challenges of parenthood wasn’t enough, then the universe decided to throw in Pokemon.

It’s no joking matter though.

As my 20 yr old daughter said to me last night.  “ I predict that there will be a whole new, substantial category of mental illness labels attributed to screen addiction that affect this generation.”

I agree, and it is happening already.   IAD is just one.  Internet addiction disorder.

We already know that people are being influenced – in many ways.

Take online dating for example.  Studies are beginning to show that because so much of our social interaction is taking place online that many young people, when put in the real face to face world are lacking in some of the very basic social skills needed to form and cement long term healthy relationships.

Does this mean that even some of our most basic primitive instincts – like our intuition in reading body language, picking up on key vocal clues, reading facial expressions etc are becoming muted.  Lost perhaps even?

Could it even be possible that in the very long term that we will devolve?  Lose some of our instincts in this human department?

It’s a bit of a scary thought, but possible don’t you think?

Take our propensity to “google” as another example of how our brains are changing.   Because so much information is simply there at our fingertips it is said that our memory is being affected.  We don’t NEED to remember things because we are bombarded with so many short snippets of information by googling that it is simply not being retained.  Are we outsourcing our memory to Google?   How is this affecting the developing brains of children I wonder, not to mention the pandora’s box of undesirable things young minds are being inadvertently exposed to when searching on the internet.

As a personal example, which really shocked me recently…  I have a twitter account, which I never really use but I happened to go looking on twitter the other day for art related content.  I came upon an account which on first sight looked art related but suddenly I found myself looking at hard core porn.   It is SO easy to accidentally happen upon images like these when on the internet.  I have no problem with what adults choose to view but I DO think it’s a problem for young malleable minds to be exposed to pornography because how does this influence how they feel about sex, sexuality and themselves?   Porn addiction is yet another concern.

How you grow up and the experiences you have shape your mind and are such an intrinsic part of the person whom you become.

Your experiences define so many of your subsequent values, principles and life choices, whether it be subconscious or consciously.

What worries me is that because more and more children are being “left to their own devices” – literally, is that their experience pool is almost completely devoid of real life tactile interaction with the natural world that we exist in.

What impact is this going to have for the future?

If we aren’t raising children who CARE, deeply and fundamentally about the environment – who feel a definable CONNECTION to it and the other species on this planet…what will the consequences of this be?  Seriously, this is scary.

Some might say…Oh but you can watch things about the planet on the internet…See how the rainforests are being destroyed, read about how many species are becoming extinct…It’s NOT the same!

In order to truly appreciate something you have to LIVE it….breathe it….roll in it, touch it, and be awed by it in a total sensory way.  Human beings are designed this way.

You literally have to smell, touch and taste the flowers in order to truly value them. You can’t do this through a screen, so for those children who come home from a classroom and then spend hours in their bedroom or living room staring at screens, how much are they REALLY feeling a connection to the world in which we exist and as a result how much do they value it?

What consequences will arise from this as far as conservation of our natural world in the future?

Or will all that matters be better, bigger, (or smaller) faster screens?

I’m not saying all technology is evil and “negative” but don’t you think the balance is being lost here somehow?  How many playgrounds sit empty?  Where are the kids playing in the street after school?  I know, I know…it’s a dangerous world “out there”.  But it can be just as dangerous “in here”.

Being an active participant in life means putting away your screens – without having a panic attack because you have.  A healthy balance is needed where technology is concerned.  Children need to be taught this – led by example.   If parents are walking zombies in their phone bubbles how do you expect their children will not follow suit?

Children absolutely need to play in the sunshine, go camping, see REAL animals, experience nature, run barefoot through the mud, and smell and taste the rain because then the real world will have true meaning and value.

It’s creepy to think about technology and how we are “advancing” …How machines/ robots might eventually take our jobs. Might even, as depicted in science fiction movies become our relationship “partners”.  Frightening to contemplate a world where machines become human, but even more frightening to me anyway, is a world where humans become the machine.

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Playing with Barbies.

Lately I’ve been messing around with making strange art dolls.

Here is an example.  Yep…pretty weird I know.  I made her face with scrunched up aluminium foil and some kind of wall plaster stuff.

Creepy art doll 2  sm

Because I don’t have any polymer clay to make tiny hands and feet, and because I’m lazy but resourceful🙂 I thought I could always just chop off some Barbie doll hands and feet and use those in a kind of an assemblage type way.

So…the other day I bought 25 Barbie dolls.

What fascinating things they are. I have such mixed feelings about them.

I don’t think I really played much with Barbies as a child. More often than not I had my head in a book, so now looking at these dolls I feel like a bit of a child again.  Maybe just a big much more macabre type of child because I have all these ideas racing around in my head as to what I can DO with Barbies….before I chop them all into little pieces.  Ha!

They make good models.  Always do as they are told – well mostly. (They don’t bend as you would like!)  They don’t charge a fee….don’t whine when they’ve had enough…

I think I’m going to enjoy playing with Barbies for a while before it’s time to bring out the hacksaw…

Tonight I messed about in photoshop putting human features onto a Barbies face.  I honestly didn’t mean this to look “naughty”.  Some reactions on Facebook are that she’s a bad Barbie.  Like I said…she’ll do most things, but sitting all lady like is not one.  I know…it doesn’t help that she is naked…but hey, I was aiming for something arty – in a creepy kind of way.

Let’s just say this was my first nude photoshoot.

Barbie with human face  sm



Posted in Art, Arty farty, Craft, crafts, Creativity, Dolls, mixed media, photography, Photomanipulation, Photoshoot, photoshop, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Quick trip down memory lane.

Yesterday on our way home dropping my mum off we drove through all the very fancy rich homes in the Vaucluse area where I worked as a nurse almost 26 years ago.

On the spur of the moment I asked my husband to drive by where Strickland House used to be, and to my surprise it was still there, exactly the same as it had been all those years ago! Seems the government has reclaimed it…I’m not sure of the full story but all I know is shortly before I left there were an awful lot of very distressed residents who would soon be leaving their “home”. For many of them this had been their home for a very LONG time.

The house itself- a Victorian mansion, was built in  built in the 1850s, when it was known as “Carrara”.

It was a bit of a strange place. Many of the residents had long term mental illness, some were simply there for aged care and some had developmental disabilities like Down Syndrome.

I have so many memories of working there and it was a grandest nursing home I ever worked in! The billion dollar views alone were something we all took for granted.
I remember so many of the residents. One in particular – Bertha Shoemaker….a large woman with a gentle soul who would ask me each and every time I took her down to the shower room…”Is it safe…tell me…is it safe?” 😦

They all had their own stories. Some which were fuzzy and blurred around the edges. Some which were sharp as a tack.
I remember one lady saying to me that she had simply had enough. She’d lived long enough and just wanted to “go”. She was happy enough….She just thought she’d had enough now.

I remember the time the entire unit was struck down with a terrible gastro bug like no other!  Oh my, it was awful…and then the nurses, including myself got it.

We once had a visit from Rachel Welsh – scouting for a filming location. An exciting day!
So many memories were jogged by our visit.

We didn’t trespass. The grounds are open to the public and once a year they open it up so you can go inside. I think the house itself is used for functions or events. I’d LOVE to go inside it again.

It had a huge ornate wooden staircase as you walked in the front door that creaked when you walked up it and smelled so strongly of the wood it was made from. There were so many nooks and crannies and was seriously creepy at night! One section was empty and we weren’t allowed in it.  I did some reading and apparently it was the nurses quarters – full of lead based paint! 

What a place! And there is stands….abandoned and alone on that hillside over looking Sydney Harbour, after all these years.

So much in life changes…So many places from your past are torn down and simply disappear.  It’s always an odd feeling to return to a place that hasn’t really changed that much, except YOU have, which makes the experience quite strange.

I  googled it….Looks like quite a few things have been filmed here over the years…

“In 2007 the grounds and house of Strickland House were used by Baz Luhrmann in filming parts of his movie ‘Australia’, doubling as Government House, Darwin. It has also been used for film and TV shoots for ‘Underbelly’, ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The Farmer Wants a Wife’ (Crosson, 2013) as well as for “The Krait”. a TV servies called “Flat CHat”mand an episode of the UK series “The Minder”. ( pers correspondence Peter Poland 2013). ”


Side view

Back view

other side



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Trip to New Zealand in the snow in a campervan!

Recently we went on a long awaited ten day trip to New Zealand’s South island. Taking three of our adult children with us.

Due to accommodation costs we decided to hire a campervan for the duration. Why not. It will be an adventure they said.

The first night we stayed in a motel close to the airport as the flights there and back are at really inconvenient times.

We arrived at the motel after midnight which was rather dated – kind of seventies vibe…cheap and cheerful let’s just say and were greeted by a really friendly cat who decided to wander in our room and after a bite to eat and a quick drink from the toilet (Ack! I gave him a bowl of water immediately) he proceeded to get quite comfortable on one of the beds. He spent the whole night with us… in my daughters bed, snuggled up with her on the electric blanket. No doubt it’s not the first time this smart cat has done so.  A very nice welcome to the place.


We thought by travelling in a campervan that it would be a good way to cut down on costs as it would enable us to cook as well, instead of having to eat out every day, as NZ is expensive!

This was our home on wheels for the ten day period.  By the end of the trip we were glad to see the back end of it!

Campervan  sm

Why you ask?

Why did we develop such an intense loathing for this vehicle?

For a start, it was very cramped with all five of us in there plus all our luggage. Even though it was a six berth van realistically it would have been much better had we have been travelling in summer, where we could have sat outside – we did pay extra for table and chairs but never used them because it was too damn cold to sit outside.

The interior design sucked. We may have argued about many things on this trip but we all agreed that the layout sucked.

It was like playing interior Tetris, my husband kept saying.  I don’t know that game but I do know that it became INFURIATING trying to squeeze past people in that stupidly small space between the “kitchen area” and the “bathroom”.

Speaking of the bathroom, I was BANNED from using the bathroom.

So unfair!  I thought, great, we have a campervan! This trip I won’t have to be crossing my legs and waiting in agony for us to find public restrooms along the way…. Won’t have to get up and go out in the freezing cold at night to pee in a stinking pit toilet somewhere…. or first thing in the morning when it’s brutally cold and I look like something dug up from the grave.

No! I had to do ALL those things! All because nobody wanted to empty the toilet cassette and everyone thought it was gross for me to even PEE in there. I mean…everybody pees! Maybe it’s just my former years as a nurse, but there are far worse things that that! I tried every which way to convince them but nope, not even a little tinkle was I allowed by my family, which made me sulk. Instead, due to lack of space, the bathroom became our luggage storage closet.  We didn’t even use the shower in there, which admittedly would have been quite a feat in itself as it was very small.  My husband is so tall that he would need a sunroof that opens with the shower head sticking out the top!

As a result, we stayed in several caravan parks so we could shower, and they were not cheap. Over $100 a night for the five of us.

The South island is very different to what little we saw on our previous quick trip to the North.

I wanted the kids to be blown away by the scenery the minute we got there but realistically we drove for most of the first day through pretty boring flat farmland before we began to glimpse the snow-capped mountains in the distance.   A bit different from when we arrived in Wellington and began to see rolling green hills pretty much straight away.

The mountains though. How picturesque they were!  I can honestly say that most of the scenery we saw was absolutely postcard perfect.  The beauty was surreal at times.

Here’s just a few photos…


The lone church  sm

The hills Wanaka  sm

Somebodies view 2  sm

The long straight road  sm

The mossy forest  sm

The most awesome part of the trip for us all was seeing snow.

We have been snow chasing for a few years now and every place we have visited where it is likely to snow we have missed it! Instead days later it has snowed where we just were! Infuriating.

I was fully expecting some bizarre phenomena to happen in New Zealand where the snow would magically part on our route leaving us once again with a snowless experience, but it didn’t! Yay!

We didn’t just see snow, but we actually got to experience it SNOWING!

This is my son and daughters first reaction to snow.

Snow first time  sm

They delighted in their first snow experience though, which made me happy.

Snow Keira  smShai snow angel  sm

Jackson snow 2  sm

My husband took this photo on his phone of the kids and I.  We look like we are doing some sort of magical ritual.

Snow ritual

Snow is fascinating. It falls in some places and not others.  Like some hills are just snow repellent or something. Weird.

It feels like ash falling from the sky (our only reference, coming from Australia where bushfires have caused ash to fall like snow)

Walking in it feels like you’re walking on granola. It makes a satisfying crunch.

It plops down from trees.  Really, “plops” describes it.  I’m thankful I didn’t get plopped on.

It melts quickly when it’s actually snowing on you – so I was worried for my camera.

Some snow is wet and other snow you can lie down on the ground on it and your clothes don’t get wet.  Odd.

Snow is extremely slippery at times.  It looks ugly and sloshy by the roadside.

Snow just transforms landscapes into absolutely magical scenes. At dusk it feels like you are viewing the world in greyscale.

Snow is so silent.

Snow is terrifying when you are driving on winding mountain roads with no guard rails.

Snow makes you cry when your fingers get chilblains.  That happened to me once and it was agony. I wasn’t even touching it!  Just removed one glove to take photos .

Snowballs HURT.

This is what someone looks like being hit by a snowball.  The aftermath is not pretty.

shai hit with snowball  sm closeup

I was told off for continuing to take photo’s in the snowball in the face aftermath.

What was I to do? I had the camera in my hands. I was just documenting!

Shai crying snowball.  smalljpg

Some of my favourite snow pics.

Snowy road first pass  sm

snow on trees sm

Snow wood 4 sm

Pine trees snow monochrome  sm

All five of us live together quite happily at home where we spread out and do our own thing, but being cramped so close together in a confined space day and night began to take its toll.

We all began to crave some alone time.

Alone  sm

The kids got tired of me asking them to pose for the camera.

Shai and Jackson looking happy  sm

We made Shai cry seven times during the trip.  I can’t even explain. We didn’t mean to. She just seemed PARTICULARLY sensitive.   I had one argument with her because she accused me of being a camera hog, which made me mad because I was quite aware that this COULD be an issue so I was trying very hard to share nicely.

The argument happened at Wanaka, where I was really looking forward to photographing the most photographed tree in the whole of New Zealand. Why? Because I just had a bee in my bonnet about doing so!
I was surprised when we drove up found the exact spot RIGHT at sunset. I expected to have to walk to find it  So I quickly got out the car but beating me to it Shai took the camera first and went trotting off to take photo’s of the water and reflections.
I was getting panicky because the light was changing and I just wanted to take the opportunity because I knew there was no WAY I’d get everyone up at the crack of dawn to go down there just so I could photograph it.   I was trying to be nice for THEM….avoid the inconvenience of a freezing cold dawn trip.
I was getting quite cranky with Shai. I saw her off in the distance just sitting there seemingly just looking out at the water at the beautiful scenery, which made me REALLY mad!

What the heck was she doing now ? Just meditating while I’m standing there, camera- less, with this beautiful light that was going to disappear at any minute! So I motioned very exaggeratedly at her with my arms in a movement that said “ Come here NOW! “ (Pointing to the ground)
And then there was an awkward moment when I realised that the person I was making this angry motioning to, who was looking right at me – and then looked behind her in confusion….was not Shai at all, but some innocent person who indeed was just sitting there meditating, enjoying the beautiful scenery.

This was the photo I eventually ended up getting.

That Wanaka tree  sm flipped 2

We argued over beds.  See there were three double beds in the campervan.

My son, thankfully volunteered to sleep with my husband up the top – the biggest bed.  I was SO glad, because I can’t sleep with him as he snores. (At home we have separate rooms)

The longest bed was at the back of the camper so Shai (being so tall) and Keira slept there…most of the time.  I got the bed in the middle of the camper, which was the one that converts to a table, and driving seats during the day.  It had a big open space underneath it though which seemed to store up all the cold air so it was a bit like sleeping on top of an open freezer.

Shai who needs complete darkness and silence to sleep was disturbed by Keira who needs to be watching her screen. I need to watch something too or else my mind spins in endless circles but the glare from MY  tablet screen reflected in the shiny grill surface and somehow Keira could see that and this disturbed HER.  The men at the top were happy enough in their snoring and farting bliss. We were glad to be well away from their man smell funkiness.

They only supplied three quilts and three thin blankets, presuming that people sleeping together would share a quilt, but my husband grabbed one, my son the other, Shai took the last one and Keira, as she feels the cold more than I do, took two blankets, which left me with one thin blanket sleeping in a van in a place that snows!  I resorted to wearing three layers of clothing to bed but I was still waking up at dawn with ice blocks for feet.

I must admit. At times it was a bit like living in an igloo. Cramped and cold.

Shai igloo  sm

Then there was the issue of trying not to disturb people in that confined space.

Many a morning I would try to make a cup of tea as quietly as possible, then I’d crawl behind the ladder and over the seat into the cab of the van to try not to disturb people. I’d had these fantasies about getting up really early to get the nice dawn light for photos, but trying to get everyone up and ready for the day was impossible!

Other people had less regard for others who don’t do mornings well.

One time Shai got up early and proceeded to eat rice crackers and dip before anyone woke up.

Well, guess what- people woke up, because rice crackers are extremely noisy.  If you really want to make people fuming mad in the morning, eat loud rice crackers.

It seemed to disturb Keira the most who spent the entire day in a foul mood shooting dagger like looks at Shai and had a REALLY hard time forgiving her for the “loud food” incident.

One night we arrived fairly late at a campground and were happy to have the place all to ourselves.  There was not much there -a very quiet spot next to a lake, a bit secluded really, with nothing more than a pit toilet.

An hour or two after we arrived though, around 8 pm or so, another car pulled up and three people, a girl and two guys got out and began setting up two tents.  I peeked through the curtains out at them and could see that they were sharing a bottle of alcohol.  Fine, as long as the party doesn’t get wild, I thought.

Soon after I began to hear guitar playing and singing.  It was about 9 pm.

I was a little annoyed. They set up camp quite close to us.  A bit inconsiderate but none the less, it’s a free world. In this case – campsite.

Then I began to hear bongo drums accompanying the guitar playing. Sheesh!  Why not just invite the whole band!

10 o clock and they were really getting into it, and by now I was a little bit nervous because another car arrived and although I couldn’t see properly with my peeking, I was sure they knew each other.

I really needed to pee by then, but I was nervous going out there in the dark with the party people going full swing. Luckily Shai was getting up so I took the opportunity and went with her.

We only had one small pocket torch – a huge oversight by us…Really should have packed a decent torch because we knew we would be staying in free campgrounds along the way.

Having spent hours peeking at our noisy neighbours and having all kinds of imaginary scenarios running through my head I was really edgy, so when Shai took the torch and left me standing outside her toilet cubicle in complete pitch black darkness, I freaked a little…imagining someone coming out of the dark at me, so without thinking…(really honestly, a complete brainfart moment) I decided to go into the stall next to Shai to try to just pee in the dark.

Thinking that you can find your way around a totally pitch black PIT TOILET is insane, gah, but at least the door was closed so I felt safe from any potential bogey men.

I was kind of feeling with my foot for the toilet, but as you do, in the dark, your hands are outstretched in front of you, and all of a sudden I got the shock of my life when my hands touched something I instantly recognised to be NOT something I would EVER want to be touching.  It was a urinal.

Blegh! Oh! YUCK! Gross! Contamination overload! I got out of there REAL quick.  Even the scary darkness was better than THAT!

Then there was the bacon frying incident.

Having some leftover bacon my husband decided to cook some potatoes one night with chopped bacon that we would just have with grated cheese for dinner.  He’d already tried to cook egg and bacon for sandwiches the day before and had a traumatic time with the frying pan and oil as it kept popping and spitting – like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before. In the confines of a small van this kind of thing can actually be quite violent and dangerous!  Your food should not hurt you.

The thought did cross my mind that by chopping the bacon up it might cause flying projectiles around the campervan, but we were hungry!

Well, that’s exactly what DID happen…Explosive bits of bacon began popping like out of control popcorn out of the pan and hitting my husband’s glasses, spitting out across the van – one even flying into the pocket of my jacket that was draped across the back of a seat. Everyone literally had to take cover!

We had the loud food incident, and now we were having the dangerous food incident.

Somehow there was enough bacon that stayed in the pan for us to have dinner that night, but we were glad to have that ordeal over and done with. We stuck to food that would not become dangerous missiles after that.

Our biggest disappointment on the trip was driving up the west coast where it was said to be one of the worlds top ten coastal drives.

It was rather disappointing.  Granted, the weather we had then was miserable but still, it seemed like we were driving on roads hedged in with thick rainforest for a lot of the time with very little coast to see and when we did see it it was misty and gloomy and terribly windy.

Here is a nice moody pic of the ocean I took – and was nearly blown away while I tried to take it!

The stormy sea 2  sm

We were also disappointed by the glaciers.  The helicopter flights, which seemed the best way to see the glaciers were ludicrously expensive, and not even flying that day due to poor weather.  We contemplated walking to the glacier but from doing reading it seems that you can’t really walk that close to it anyway – due to many accidents they have prevented this…. It was raining, I had the camera to think about. We opted to give it a miss.

This is what glacial water looks like. It truly is that stunning aqua blue colour. No photoshopping. It’s just the most divine colour caused by the sediments that have been transported through the rivers to the lakes.

blue pool 2  sm

We headed to a beach around there where there was reportedly a colony of seals. None were to be seen. The weather was probably too miserable for them too!

We did however see a Kiwi which was about the most exciting thing we’d seen that day.

The scariest moment on the trip, (besides groping the urinal in the dark) was when we’d travelled up to Arkaroa on our second last day.  What a beautiful place!  But oh…driving around the winding mountain tops on snowy roads really truly made me feel sick to my stomach with anxiety!

Windey snowy roads with view  sm

Windey snowy roads  sm

There are no guard rails, or few anyway, not that they would do much good if your vehicle skidded on the road, very high drops and very winding roads with hairpin bends.  It was spectacular but in a campervan I felt very very nervous!   That is definitely a place though that I’d like to visit again and explore more.

View over Arkaroa

Panorama 2  sm

So the highlights of the trip for us was going through the passes and seeing snow for the first time…being snowed ON… Seeing all the amazing spectacular snow capped mountains, and the cat who slept in our motel room.

The disappointments were that everything is soooo expensive. We saw a cucumber for $6 !  Queenstown was a place I couldn’t wait to get out of as it was SO busy with so many posy yuppie types of people hanging around on corners looking all cool with their snowboards – and there was nowhere to park a campervan there anyway.  We weren’t going to ski, which I suppose is what most people go to the south for in winter…but there seemed to be little else on our chosen route to do except look at amazing scenery.   I expected to see more quaint little towns along the way. More museums or things like that which might not cost an arm and a leg but would be interesting to visit. We did visit Puzzling world in Wanaka which was very reasonable at $20 per person and just a bit of fun.

It seems that the south is for the highly adventurous, bungee jumping and all that kind of heart attack stuff, and those that want to take long hikes and don’t mind getting wet or snowed on.

Next time I want to go back to the North and do more exploring up that way.  I was quite taken by all the rolling green hills of the north which the south replaces with rugged mountains and beautiful glacial lakes.

Either way, New Zealand, so far, in all our travels, is to me the most scenic place I have ever visited – has no dangerous snakes and spiders, and I definitely want to experience more of it, but probably in the warmer months next time, and probably not in a campervan.

The family  sm






Posted in Family, Humour, life experiences, memories, Nature, New Zealand, photography, scenery, snow, Travel, travel blog, Uncategorized, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blood, sweat and bohemian tears.

I have been like a mad woman possessed these past few weeks.

I don’t know what has come over me but for some reason I feel compelled to paint, which is something, in the past, that has never really struck my fancy because painting is HARD and messy, and time consuming and quite frankly I suck at it.

Never again will I go to an art gallery and look at a piece of abstract art and think -“Oh that is so simple even I could paint something like that.”

I’ll tell you this now…it is NOT as easy as it looks. Really it is not.

For the past three days I have been working on creating an abstract painting on a vertical canvas.

I have started from scratch SEVEN times on this damn thing.  It’s been shades of red, shades of blue, shades of turquoise,  blue and orange…and…oh, I forget what else, but it’s been EVERYTHING  and I hated them all.  In fact I began to think very violent thoughts towards this canvas.  I ALMOST got a knife and slashed it to pieces at one point.

I tried ALL kinds of techniques, watched many youtube tutorials.  Scrunched plastic in paint on it.  Sanded it back…used my hands to smoosh paint. Spattered paint, used washes of paint, added texture…added MORE texture.

It was driving me absolutely insane!

Why could I not DO this! It’s abstract. Doesn’t actually have to LOOK like anything, right?  Just needs to express a FEELING…or something.

I felt trapped in an eternal painting hell. Honestly I did.

I painted from the time I got up, until the time I went to bed… kidding!

Today, finally the torture has ended.

I am NOT going to change a thing.

I REFUSE to be tempted to add ” just one little bit”….because I know where THAT ends up!

Finally it is done.

My very out there,  “Blood sweat and bohemian tears.”  That’s what I should call it.

And I tell you what, if anyone ever is crazy enough to ask how much it is, I will charge for mental anguish.


Bohemian painting retouched 2 small

Posted in Art, artists, Arty farty, Australia, I can't paint, life experiences, painting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The disaster zone.

If I were really pretentious I’d say I have an “art studio” But I’m not a pretentious sort of person, so I could say  “My craft room”, but it’s not really a room, because it’s a garage, and I’ve seen too many neat orderly WHITE, perfectly organised spaces that people call their “craft rooms”.   (They scare me.)

I’ve seen craft rooms where everything is filed away, alphabetically listed, all the storage containers are exactly the same and all slot into their allocated spot perfectly and there is not one spec of glue or paint to be seen anywhere.   These aren’t crafters or artists! They’re aliens!  How can people work like that!

My name is Tracy, I have a garage where I make stuff and it’s a disaster zone.

Feels like some kind of a confession or something.

I AM a compulsive maker of stuff.  Always have been.  It’s just that now I’m making it and I have to sell it because I just can’t keep making it and keeping it!

After having recently moved house I finally cleared a space in the garage for myself.

It’s a nice space. I can have the garage roller door open in summer to let the breeze through and the views outside to the lake are nice and calming.  The only issue are the lights which are on a stupid sensor thingy, so sometimes they have a mind of their own and I have to either do a dance back and forth across a certain point to make them come back on, or else sit in the half dark with the lamp on until somehow it resets itself and allows me to put them back on!  Just one of those quirky things you get used to.

This is what it looked like when it was all new and pristine and orderly and all.  Note that nothing matches at all and things are still in cardboard boxes.  But still….this is NEAT, for me.

Craft space BEFORE

Take a good long look because it will NEVER EVER look that way again.  Not even in a blue moon when all the planets are aligned and a frog sits next to a hare on the road.

This is how it looks today.

Craft space after working in it

I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of my mess.  This is pure delicious inspiration in the makings here…..this is where a piece of ripped cardboard I dropped on the floor would make a PERFECT clock surround…  Where the crumpled ball of tissue paper that rolled under my chair comes in handy just about now!  Where a ball of wool gets flung in the general direction of the wool box, because I can’t be bothered getting up because I just have that one last little piece to paint!

This is where I sit almost every day and listen to the local radio station and just let my mind float.

I do a lot of thinking in here, believe it or not.

I think about the things that are bothering me….the things I’m looking forward to….the things I want to do….to make… But a lot of that time my head is just “free”  and clear  and not really thinking of much at all because I’m too busy trying to solve problems.

A lot of what I do involves problem solving.

“How can I make THIS  look like THAT?”.

“What colours will enhance the rusty look?”

“How do I draw that shape?  How do I cut that out?  How….how….how…?”

My hands are so busy that it quiets my very busy mind, and this is a GOOD thing.


I may not be weaving baskets but I’m certainly keeping myself from going insane.

This mess is ME and where I am the most happiest being ME.


Oh it’s not always like this.  Sometimes it’s worse!

I move in cycles…..create, create, create….ohmygodIcantstandthechaosanymore!

Then I have to stop and restore some order or else I’m likely to become buried like something from an episode of hoarders.

I’m ALMOST at that point now.

This is what birthed from the bloodied loins of my beautiful disaster zone today.


I loved the bottle when I first saw it, but the contents were ghastly.

My husband and I shared it when we stayed in the city one night to see the Vivid Lights show.

I don’t know what exactly the drink was but it was pink and vile and bubbly.  I just needed that bottle!

What you do for your art hey?

Steam punk bottle 1  sm











Posted in Altered bottles, Art, Arty farty, Australia, Craft, Creativity, happiness, health and well being, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

The wall.

Sheep doorway Abbey  sm

“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.”
-khalil gibran

I saw this quote on a fellow bloggers post  last night and the words rang so true for me. -

You KNOW when you are living a life that is not true to your soul- the very core of who you are. When you are trying to make all the puzzle pieces fit to make this perfect picture, but no matter what they just don’t fit?

You just know.

I know you understand the feeling.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Because we THINK we can “make it work”.

We think, because we want something SO much, with every fibre of our being, and with EVERY good intention, that somehow the magic will somehow manifest itself in us and give us superpowers to be able to mould and change things and make them exactly as our souls eye pictured it to be.

The thing is, we DO have superpowers to be able to mould and change OURSELVES…but we are completely powerless to change others around us.

So after waving our magic wands around frantically and futilely, eventually we get trapped…IN THAT WALL.
Stuck in limbo, unable to move forward because we just cannot believe in the garden that logically, intelligently we know is on the other side. Maybe we even forget it’s there?
Maybe it just feels safer to be in the wall? Right here, right now, between the bricks. It’s the only thing you truly can trust.

But this is what being in the wall does to you.

It strips you of joy.
Numbs the senses…
It fills you with anxiety- because when your core being recognises it is living a lie, it manifests as anxiety.
It robs your confidence, steals your sleep, and literally makes you sick!

I saw this happen to my daughter, who was in a relationship that deep deep down, she knew was not “right” for her core happiness. Her spirit…her soul…her inner truth!

She didn’t want to believe that or acknowledge it because she had this vision and believed she had the power to make it all fall into place.

There is nothing wrong with having faith in yourself…having dreams and goals and fighting for something. It’s how good things are born!
But sometimes you’ve got to take a long hard look inward, and ask yourself “Can this truly change to fit my picture? Is this the reality I want?”

I know my daughter could never have imagined that she would end up a single mother to two boys. The thought I know must have filled her with terror.
But you know what? She can now see the garden on the other side of the wall! She’s IN it. The wind on her face, the grass beneath her feet… and SURE it’s scary. Sometimes lonely, and I’m sure she’ll get lost in it many more times before she finally finds the path she is meant to be on…But she is out of that damn stuck place now, where she was- with NO garden at all!

It takes IMMENSE courage to move forward. To be truthful with yourself and find the strength to let go of “the picture” and have the guts to create a new one.
There is ALWAYS a new one, because that is the reality of life.

Fear is stupid. It holds you in handcuffs made of air and puts you inside walls that only exist in your mind.

Go walk in the garden! Discover it! Bask in the sunshine!
Don’t waste another precious second of this fleeting gift of- your LIFE.

Posted in Fear, happiness, Life, life experiences, Musings, relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is that art?

Art, as we all know, is totally subjective.  It all depends on what people make of it, and some people make a hell of a lot out of a simple squiggle.

Reminds me of something I saw on Facebook recently where a bunch of hoity toity art connoisseurs are getting excited by a pair of glasses someone left on the floor during an exhibition.   Obviously the glasses “spoke” to them.

I’ve always wanted to make art, but I cannot paint. Nope…A brush in my hand is about as useful as an extra thumb.  I just don’t know what to DO with it…a paintbrush that is.

Speaking of extra thumbs…I actually had an elderly patient once who had two thumbs. I kid you not.  It was a bit like a crab claw on her hand.  Fascinating.

I’m beginning to explore painting.  I can’t paint recognisable things – not yet. Do I even want to though?  I must admit, just like the imagination involved with cloud watching, I’m a bit more swayed towards abstract art.  Not ALL abstract art though, as some of it just doesn’t appeal to me at all.   Like – simple squiggles.  Or geometric stuff.  Or paintings that are so washed out and simplistic you have to wonder did the artist want to keep it a secret all to him/herself? Some people like that though and “get it”.  I don’t.

But I do love colours and textures.   Textures are great!  Something you can really get your teeth into, if your eyes had teeth.   Nothing better than a textural painting that seems to want to rip its way out of the canvas and devour you.  Ok…I’m getting carried away here, but you know what I mean.

So, I have been messing about with creating some textural paintings.  Acrylic paints with texture paste….and whatever else is handy.   I’ve made two attempts.  I personally think they are still a bit clumsy ….BUT, I’m always SO self critical…and you’ve got to start somewhere.

This was my first attempt at an abstract painting.  I just KNOW I’ll end up modifying the colour….but it is what it is so far.

I used texture paste, wool, glue, tissue paper and paint.  It reminded me of the ocean.

My daughter said she saw a dead fish in it.  Someone else said a tennis racket.  My father saw a wine glass.  Someone else saw the moon rising over reeds…

Abstract sea theme  sm

I like that people saw different things.  I guess that’s a start hey!

Then today I finished a set of three abstract paintings that are probably more of a decorative accent thing than anything else.  These were fun to make and I like the colours and the swirls.  Circles and swirls are my thing.   Squares and lines….not so much, but who knows… A square may “speak to me” one day.

Abstract red set of three.  smjpg



Posted in Art, artists, Arty farty, Australia, Creativity, I can't paint, mixed media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments