First Adventure in our New Mode of Travel


In recent years my husband and I have done a fair amount of travel overseas, but now we are embarking on a new life of adventure… Exploring and photographing Australia whilst travelling in a caravan! Not full time mind you, but these will be the practise years for when we eventually do go gypsying around full time.

I remember only too well the the days – well, years, of roughing it camping with four small children.  It’s hard work. Damn hard work! We started with a simple tent and yoga mats close to 20 years ago, and have been steadily upgrading our comfort levels ever since.

One particular day we were sat, exhausted, after a long days drive at a camp site, eating two minute noodles for dinner when an enormous RV rolled in.  You know, one of those ones where they come equipped with everything, even its own spa and servants?

We sat there green with envy, and even more green especially after – somehow, our kids were invited in for a quick tour.

“They have a real leather lounge suite and all!” our kids told us.

We put our noses up at the fancy shmancy tenderfoot people and muttered.

“I wonder what THEY’RE having for dinner!”

Well, now the shoe is kind of on the other – tender foot.

Now we have this.

Lounge 1Leaving for the trip sm

So, for the first time towing the beast we headed out for a trial run to see how it all works.

Ok, so the car did NOT like towing this thing up hills and as much as we tried to avoid hills, well…they are everywhere.
There is one particular hill outside of Gloucester, NSW that is a real killer.
The car has never made smells like it made on that stretch of incline. I honestly thought the motor was going to blow up!
If a car can have a hernia I think ours has got one now.
“I think I can, I think I can” is not what the car seemed to be saying.
I think it was hurling all manner of vile automotive cuss words at us!

It was misery and gloom as we headed to our first camp spot for the night.
Gloryvale the site is called, (Just before Bretti Reserve) set by a small flowing stream. Only a pit toilet there. Nice peaceful spot though.

Stream2 smallCaravan by stream sm

We had an uneventful night, slept well, ate well with pre prepared stew – some habits never die hard, like pre preparing the first nights meal as we always did when camping.
I did note on our first night though that it was bloody annoying that the whole van would move with the slightest movement from either of us. I told my husband not to sniff so violently as somehow it was causing the entire van to rock!
Later he did tell me that he’d only put two of the stabilizer legs down. Unfortunately though even with four down we seem to make the van rock, a lot, and with no shenanigans going on.

More gloom and misery the next day as we drove to Walcha, NSW, where we were to stay for two nights in a Caravan park.

Bleak

Now, neither of us particularly like Caravan parks but the one at Walcha is very neat and clean…real glass doors on the showers! Everything is tidy and well kept. The owner was very welcoming and even helped guide us into the site because my husband told him I was inept at directing…and he’s not lying. I  do suck.
I don’t know what happened because the first night there were a fair few vans in the park. I even had the shock of witnessing a Grey Nomad – male, walking from the amenities block in his wife’s hot pink, short fluffy dressing gown first thing in the morning. With long socks and sandals. (Oh the sights you see.)
By the second night though we were the only ones there. Pity, because I would have liked to have snuck a shot of hot pink fluffy Grandad after his morning ablutions.

Park to ourselves

Camp kitchen at WalchaCamp kitchen inside

Camp caravan park at Walcha amenities

There is a great Antique shop in Walcha called Antique Junque. More like a museum than a shop. So much for the eyes to feast on…and so much to accidentally break as you snake your way gingerly through overcrowded aisles. Worth a poke around in, but if you have children , tie their hands behind their backs.

Antique Junque

There is also a historical mansion there called – Langford Homestead. You apparently can arrange to do a tour of it. We didn’t have time, but I did manage to stop early in the morning to photograph its fancy gates and the winding road leading to the estate.

Beautiful gates 2 sm

How magic are these gates!  Mysterious!

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Mansion 2 sm

From there we drove up to Uralla for a bit of a look around and we came across a little tourist drive which led to this amazing old Church/Chapel set in the middle of nowhere.  (Gostwyck Chapel – built in 1921) It was quite picturesque so we actually made three trips back there in one day just so I could try and capture it in better light.

Church front

Church road 2 sm

Tree currve2 sm

Tree tunnel2 sm

From Walcha we moved on and headed towards Tamworth.  We wanted to stop and get some supplies but found it too stressful trying to find somewhere to park with the caravan behind us so we ended up just driving through to Nundle which was our next destination for a two night stop.  Somehow we’re going to have to get the hang of this “how to park with a caravan in towns” because I was surviving on a bag of peanuts in the car for lunch because we couldn’t stop to get bread for sandwiches.

We found a nice quiet empty free camp site in Nundle. Perfect!   This place is called Teamsters rest reserve.  There are a few picnic tables,  rustic type barbecues and a pit toilet.

Second free camp site

Second free campsite driving in

Our first afternoon at this site we took it easy. I actually dozed off in my chair that I’d dragged out into the little bit of sun and when I woke there were a couple of cows standing at the fence observing me.  I was glad there was a fence because I have a sneaking suspicion that they would have come right up to my chair.  Cows are such curious creatures, but I do have my qualms about them, ever since being chased in the outback by a herd of cows.   Frightening ordeal that was – even though nobody believes me.

Anyway, so I went over to the fence to make friends with them, as I always do.  Now, I joked just the other week about singing Kum Bay Ya to a herd of cows…. and that my singing drew them in to me.  I think my friends think I really DID sing them in…but I was kidding.  Standing there at the fence though, sensing their nervousness at this immobile lump of a human that suddenly was upright and approaching them, I decided…well, what the heck…I’m going to sing to them!  So I did.  I started singing Amazing Grace, and I kid you not, but IMMEDIATELY five cows came straight over to me, huffing and snuffing and they were absolutely transfixed!  Cows love singing!  They are musical creatures! Whaddya know!

It made me want to cry, and I could not eat steak for the rest of the trip.

In the morning the cows were back at the fence.  Maybe they wanted more serenading?

Cows view fom caravan

So we explored a bit more around Nundle. Nice rustic little place!  There is a great shop there that sells all kinds of kitchen ware. All that enamel ware stuff that my husband always oohs and ahhs over and tells me every time he see’s it that this is what his mother used to cook baked custard in etc etc…but then he never buys it.  Anyway, I bought two nice tea towels because they matched the colours in the van.

Nice shop in Nundle

We had tea and scones in the Museum/B&B/cafe/gold mine tour place ( they have covered all bases there.)

Nundle Gold mine museum

Nundle inside museum

Nundle tea nd scones

The scones were good!

There are a few other little shops and businesses in Nundle worth having a look at.  The Wool Mill, the Glass Gallery ( we bought some lovely glass coasters there), a second hand shop in the old Church, and a new little business selling goats milk products.  Lovely lady owns and runs that and her dog is hysterical.  It lays down head first at your feet and puts it’s butt in the air. I have no idea why, but it was very comical.

Nundle

Is that a dog in sheep’s clothing?

Nundlegoats milk cream shop

And of course no town, no matter how small is complete without a pub.

Pub in Nundle

On our way out of Nundle as we headed back towards Gloucester we stopped at a little body of water so I could take some photo’s of this old windmill in the water.   Not too often you see that and there was just a little bit of mist too which made traipsing around in the mud a little bit more enticing.  In much more beautiful light this little spot would be lovely for photography but my light was all blue, so I have converted these to black and white.

Early morning mist lake second one 2 small

early morning windmill water black and white sm

Early mist tree reflction b N W SMALL

Bowling Alley Point Camping area is just around the corner from where this windmill in the water is and it looked like another good spot for both camping and photography. For the patient types I bet there are plenty of birds in this area too.  We stopped so I could take a few pics of the many tree’s submerged in the water.

Trees line reflection 2048

Trees duck 2 small

Nice tree reflections 2048

After having been to places like Ireland and the UK, Germany and Austria where the history is much more extensive and they have amazing old castles and Abbeys and breathtaking scenery almost always with mist and fog and all those things that fill my fantasy wired brain with such excitement…I must admit that photographing Australia for me personally brings many challenges.   I’m just- in my head- so fantasy driven that much of our landscape I find less enchanting to capture.   It’s always afterwards though, when I look back through photo’s I’ve taken that I realise we do have our own certain type of “magic” here in Australia.  It’s more rustic somehow, rugged….but it’s there,  and sometimes you just drive around a corner and bam….suddenly the light just does lovely things.

Dramatic landscape sm

Morning rainbow 2 sm

Tree sunset 2 sm

And how much more quintessentially Aussie could you get than a few sheep in the fog?

Sheepin the mist 2

Our last night was spent in Gloucester Caravan park as we were having issues with the fridge and our water was running low.   Not nearly as nice as the caravan park in Walcha and way too many people – to watch our reversing and hooking up antics.  My husband bought walkie talkies to try and make this horribly stressful process more bearable, but it helps if he turns his onto the right channel!  I felt like an idiot talking to – nobody, while he made such a racket trying to reverse in and then started muttering at me…for what?  I did what I was told, while he thought I was saying nothing!

Gloucester caravan site

The amenities here are dated and apparently the mens showers are for midgets…. My husband explained how he had to do a lot of shower yoga, in order to get all his parts wet under the way too low shower head.  You shouldn’t have to do the Limbo in order to get clean…but it would have been amusing to watch. He now says he has put his neck out with all his contortionist shower antics.

The bright neon yellow toilet seats in the ladies were a bit hard on the eyes in the morning too, but hey…a toilet is a toilet and it’s nice when they flush it all away instead of inside a plastic box sloshing away under your van.  There was no crazy retching or heaving btw, from my husband when he emptied the toilet cassette, ( damn) but as punishment – or something? I was asked to make his bed.  Hey, fair deal, but really considering I have changed many many bedpans in my time, I don’t think emptying the thing would really bother me all that much.

We had a couple of cupboards that came open inside the van on our travels.  I nearly died when I discovered my laptop had fallen out of one, but in hindsight it was silly for me to have put it in there. (By some miracle it survived)  We had issues with the fridge, but all in all things went well for our first trip towing the beast.

Coming DOWN that hill that we went up on the way there was terrifying!  I was locked frozen in fear, holding my breath the whole way down.  Hopefully our next trip out to Broken Hill, despite the name, will be devoid of hills!

 

 

 

Posted in Australia, camping, caravanning, Getting older, Humour, husbands, Life, life experiences, Nature, photographers, photography, scenery, Travel, travel blog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

I’m making wearable art.


So, a new addiction seems to have me in its grips.  It seemed natural to move from creating mixed media art to creating art you can actually wear.  Not that I myself would wear it, but my models will be very soon for an upcoming photoshoot!  I’ve also been making a few costumes myself also.

The Sydney Gay Mardi Gras was on recently and I’m thinking….gee, I could have made some that would have been perfect for the marchers!

Posted in Art, Arty farty, Australia, costumes, Craft, crafts, Creativity, photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Wall in progress.


wall-multi-texture-1-small

I have to say what is in my heart.   – The scariest thing in the world right now is not Trump, or Madonna’s threats to blow things up, or any individual woman, or man behaving badly- it’s division. A wall is being built, oh yeah, indeed it is.

I’m looking around me on social media and day by day, brick by brick I’m seeing this wall being built.   People who were once united on some level be it shared interests or hobbies that brought them together in friendship in the first place…now?

And let’s face it there is stuff going on “out there” that is distasteful, and uncalled for because (some) people in all their worked up frenzied passion and vehemence are behaving badly, but woah…why can’t we all calm down and look at the bigger picture here?

Division starts wars. Always has done and always will.

What’s even more frightening is how very easily and quickly we divide.  Doesn’t take much for it to happen.  It’s like humanity is this seething mass – like a giant angry plague of beetles on the ground that in an instant can separate and turn against one another.

Are we really that self destructive?   That obsessed with “being right” that we can’t see the bigger picture?

The majority of all humans are very much the same. We are all outraged by deliberate cruelty. We all mourn and grieve. We all are fiercely protective of those we love. We all wish to simply live our lives in relative peace and quiet and don’t generally go out of our way to create disharmony.  We all cry, bleed, laugh, hunger for a sense of belonging and validation. At the very core we share MORE similarities than we do differences.

So why, time and time again do we bring about our own disharmony and instability – and inevitably weaken ourselves, as a whole, by building walls?

If ever there was a time to take the blinkers off it’s right now.  There is an undercurrent that is beginning to feel quite sinister and dangerous.

I hope I’m wrong.  I hope, with all my heart that this (wall) will quickly blow over so we can all just get back to making things GOOD and safe in the world, for the majority of us that crave safe and good.

There will be no winners against the very things that truly threaten us all, if everyone is too busy building this damn wall!

 

 

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How my “vagina” caused a furore on the internet.


abstract-flame-sm

As an emerging artist, dabbling around in all forms of media and styles. I particularly like abstract art.   I like it because it’s a bit like cloud watching….the viewer can interpret it in any way it wishes to.

So I painted this piece of abstract art and when my daughter saw it she said “Mum, why are you painting vaginas?”   Well, she actually just looked straight at it and said “Vagina!” but I could tell what she was thinking – “Mums lost the plot, entirely!”

I was quite shocked, and a bit upset to be honest, because that was entirely NOT what I was intending to paint, but the more I looked at it, the more I could see what she was seeing.

Thinking it might be a case of “suggestion” I put it out there to get some other opinions.

Well…what a pandoras box I have opened!   The overwhelming response – as soon as someone mentioned the word  vagina…( technically vulva, but who’s quibbling in the face of this embarrassing disaster)  was an outpouring of V related quips and jokes and sometimes quite touching little expressions of their beauty and the splendour of all things feminine.

There have been compliments, criticisms, insults, – one cute little private message – from a woman, that simply said “It’s rude!” ….in fighting amongst groups of people with differing opinions, Freud like analytical musings, a multitude of friend requests on Facebook and requests to see more of my art – even when I have assured them that I have no other vaginery type art works to show.

To be honest almost everyone missed the “feeling” I was going for, which was the contrast between our inner passion ( not sexual passion) –  inspirational/creative passion, and the sea of insecurity in which it often is dragged around in, and sometimes drowned by.

Even when I have EXPLAINED that, people just continue to see a vagina. Smurf vagina…Avatar vagina… Mother Earth vagina…Mermaid vagina (though there is some speculation as to whether they actually HAVE them!) and Volcano vagina (Vulvano) …

I’ve even had someone try to argue with me that it’s NOT “abstract art” at all and that I KNEW exactly what I was painting.    Um…never seen them in the blue and orange variety?

Nope…not at all what people “got”. Which makes me a bit sad because it feels like I haven’t really expressed the emotion of it well enough, but then again, most abstract art is completely vague and open to interpretation.

I understand completely – now more so than ever, how preprogrammed we are to seek out recognisable images – ( much like seeing faces in tree trunks) and categorise them in little boxes so as to make sense of our world. I get that. It’s logical and a survival instinct really because if we didn’t we’d be wandering around all day feeling very frightened or unsure of everything vague we saw in the shadows. It has been a very interesting experience but I’m quite surprised that SO many people have genitals on the brain.

I shouldn’t be upset or annoyed. The artists job is to simply create the art and the audience will react based upon their own emotional experience.

I have decided to call this painting “Perception”.  Either that or just plain old “Fanny”.

It IS for sale….so if you want a conversation piece for your wall…..?

Posted in Art, embarrassing, Humour, I can't paint, Life, life experiences, Social media, Social networks, society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

From Australia to Austria – the journey begins.


frogs-travel

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.  😀

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.

Yum!!!

pastries

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.

banana-on-floor

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.

fruit-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…


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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). ”

Front

Side view

Back view

other side

verandah.jpg

View

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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.

Cat

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