More mixed media dabblings with my photography.

So I had another go at this, using a photo I recently took of my eldest daughter Keira when we did a “tribal” sort of photoshoot.

I tried to take some photo’s of the process, but got caught up in it all and missed taking some pictures of some of the steps.  Hopefully though this might give an idea of how to approach this, for anyone who might be interested?

So here is the original photo of my daughter.  Keira tribal mode  sm

So I then cropped the image and painstakingly tried to figure out sizing and how to get our darn printer to actually co operate with me! (Me and machines just don’t mix!) Obviously if you want a better quality print you would go and get it printed properly, but personally I don’t mind the very matt appearance of images printed on normal paper….and besides, I’m still experimenting so I didn’t want to spend money getting photo’s printed and then have the whole project not turn out.

So this was the image I printed out and my blank canvas – just to give an idea of my starting point.

Then I started working on my canvas adding textures. I used textured cardboard, modelling paste, leaves, crumpled up tissue paper, and light fabric. Lots of glue…lots of mess! This is a bit of an indication as to how it looked before I painted it.


Now, because the canvas is very textured, you can’t just glue the printed (on thin paper) image straight on it or else there would be wrinkles galore. So I first, using adhesive spray, glued the image onto card stock – you can buy it at office works. She looked a bit funny all bald like that but I knew that I was going to create hair and a headpiece made from junk jewellery for her.


Then came my first coat of paint. Because she has orange kind of light on her face – we took the photo at sunset, I began with these warm tones. I also added some drips of alcohol ink and some dry brushed gold and brown paint just to get a feel for where I wanted the shadows and the highlights to be….. BUT…during the course of creating this I changed my mind several times and as I wanted her to look a bit like a Forest Warrior Queen I ultimately decided upon  greenish/brownish tones instead, with some highlights of turquoise. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of the repainted canvas before I began gluing all the bits on. Some traces of the orange still show through though if you look closely, which I like. I also like that you CAN change your mind and just paint over everything!


So, the most time consuming part of this is arranging all the bits and pieces…mostly junk jewellery, but there are flattened bottle caps, lace, buttons,washers…all KINDS of things that I used.  I used dark brown feathers for her hair.

All the bits and bobs were painted with brown spray paint first and then I brushed on highlights of gold,copper and turquoise metallic paint – that you can buy from Spotlight. Cost an arm and a leg for a small bottle, but you only use very small amounts of this as an accent really.

And this is the finished result. At least I “think” it’s finished! I could still go back and fiddle some more if I wanted to.
Oh and for the “twiggy branches” I used a hot glue gun to create these (drew them onto a plastic mat then peeled them off when they dried)  then painted them to blend in with the colour scheme and then carefully glued them on.

I hope this helps explain some of the steps I’ve used to create this:)

Keira forest tribal  sm

Brushing off the cobwebs…


It’s echoing in here. I know, it’s because the few people I may have got even vaguely interested in what I had to say have now long gone, bitten the dust, in search of more exciting blog fodder.

Life gets in the way sometimes. What can I say?  I have no excuses really.

But seriously, life really DID get in the way.  After our trip to the UK and Ireland everything went awry.

We had to move house – went through a TERRIBLE time with our very incompetent real estate at the time.  Our eldest daughter had to come home to live with us due to illness.  Our second eldest daughter went through a marriage breakup and the birth of her second son…. My husband has practically spent more time overseas than at home with his job!

Then, when we finally DID move house, we had to have our faithful dog, beloved pet of 12 years put to sleep as his arthritis was causing him to suffer terribly…to the point where one day he just couldn’t even stand up any more.  Heartbreaking, and I am still mourning him.

So as you see…everything just kind of hit the fan all at once.

And now? Look at it! It’s almost half way through the year already and I only just feel like I’m STARTING it!

So, this is where I’m at.

I’m creating – combining my photography AND my arty farty crafty side.

This is what I made today.  My first attempt at something steampunk-ish using a photo of my daughter. Steam punk mixed media  sm

I LOVE mixed media…’s so ME….A bit of EVERYTHING, and it’s very forgiving, because if you change your mind you can just rip something off and stick something else there.  Don’t like the colour?  Paint over it!

Onions!  That is what this form of art is….ONIONS.  Layer upon, layer upon layer!  (Except it shouldn’t make you cry!)

This is very much Finnabair inspired.  Hey, and I only just heard of Finnabair yesterday.  I don’t really even know who she is, except everyone is talking about her and she does stuff like this.  I saw a photo and thought…hey, I’d like to try something like that, and hey presto….this is what happened!

I was actually very inspired by something I saw written by her …Something to the effect of – “Don’t be afraid to create!”   I can’t remember exactly what it said, but you know what, as much as I was a bit intimidated by the prospect of creating something like this, I thought…well, SO WHAT if I fail.  I will have had fun and learned some stuff in the process!

I even threw caution to the wind and used some of my favourite little “bits” from my creative stash.  Stuff that I’ve been “keeping for something really special”….either because it was not cheap to buy, or because I just didn’t want to waste it unless I was certain a project would turn out.

Sometimes you just have to do that.  Tell yourself this IS something special…or it at least WILL BE something special.  Have a little faith in yourself – for a change!

Aside from that…exciting things ahead this year.

More travel!  In July we are taking three of the kids (they are almost all adults now) on a trip to New Zealand, in the dead of winter….in a campervan.  Oh boy.  Yeah, can you see what I see?  Something like in the movies?    All of us, cramped together in a campervan…freezing our butts off….traversing ice and snow…. Toxic gassy fumes from the menfolk…. Men funk.  A toilet “cassette” having to be emptied.  NOT MY JOB!  Up at the crack of dawn to get good photos!  (Oh the non photographers among us will hate that!)

Then…in late September….my husband and I are going to Switzerland.  That’s as far as we’ve got planning THAT trip.    Maybe Poland as well….  Somewhere in that vicinity of the world anyway.

Something else is in the planning also but I won’t talk about that just yet….but it is reason that I really should get back to blogging again.

I have missed it.   Just, you know…rambling….Even if it IS to an empty room.






Our travels to England and Ireland (part 3 – Northern UK)

I haven’t bored you to death yet have I  ?

I forgot in the last part to mention that before we went to London we went to Stonehenge.   That’s saying something isn’t it.    If it were me, I’d have given it a miss but my husband insisted we go.

It was as I expected….the stones were far less impressive that any photographs, there were hundreds of tourist taking annoying selfies and everything was set up to be a tourist trap.   I took some obligatory photo’s anyway.


So, after London, because we enjoyed the Dartmoore moors so much we decided to travel up to see the Yorkshire moors, which I knew would be different, perhaps not as scenic, but we were to stay very close to Whitby which we’d heard was a lovely scenic seaside town.

This time we decided to whizz straight up the motor way instead of taking the back (hedge) roads which we were thoroughly sick of.   It still took us an entire day to get there.  Even on supposed two or three hour drives it STILL took us an entire day to get places because of our frequent toilet, food and photographic stops.

We drove in late through the misty moors and the classical station had haunting choral music playing making the experience that much more creepier.

Unlike the moors in Dartmoore, the Yorkshire moors were mostly flat and the foliage very dark, almost burnt looking.  In places and in certain lights it reminded me of what it looks like here in Australia after a bushfire.  Quite ominous and gloomy –   Just my cup of tea really.  Bearing in mind it’s out here on these moors where the infamous child killer duo, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley,  buried their victims, one of whom has never been found.

road mist moors sm

Moors fence 1 sm

The moors sm


Whitby was lovely. Just as I imagined a quaint little English seaside village to be and is apparently is famous for Dracula…..some scene in a movie was filmed using these steps…. The 199 steps.

199 steps

Whitby Abbey also is quite famous but the day we went it was closed so I took a photo from outside the walls.

Whitby Abbey  sm

The seagulls there, and indeed all over the UK and Ireland are enormous!  I don’t know what they are eating and never mind making off with your chips, these things could tear a small child from your arms.

Seagull2 sm

Some other various shots in Whitby…

whitby water  sm 2

Whitby street sm

Whitby lane  sm

Whitby boats

We also visited the beautiful Robin Hood bay which was very pretty and the walk down to the bottom had me snapping shots all over the place of all kinds of quaintness and cuteness.


Robin hood bay

Robin Hood bay street down 2 sm

Robin hood bay pretty street sm

Robin hood bay small house Richard sm

Robin hood bay lane way 1 sm

Robin hood bay street up sm

I saw this window and it made me laugh.  Would YOU stay here?

Holiday apartments

Now somewhere in amongst all of this when we were out traversing the countryside I took a photo that is still giving me goosebumps, and making me wonder.   What do you think of this?  A car came driving up the road ahead that looked exactly like this one…then I saw an exact same car following behind so I took a pic, just because the cars themselves looked unusual.  It was not till I got back to the room and looked on my laptop that I saw how ODD the people inside the vehicle looked.  The figure in the middle to me doesn’t even look REAL.   It looks like a mannequin don’t you think? The passenger looks like a young man dressed up in a sparkly dress, with a fancy black hat and looks to be wearing a pearl necklace.  The driver….well, the driver kind of looks like a serial killer, lol!   Weird hey.

Weird people in small car 2

Weird people in small car 2 sm  enlarged window

From Whitby we finally came to a decision about whether to do the lakes District or the Peaks.   We received so much conflicting opinion about this but settled on the Lakes.  As it turned out after nearly four weeks of amazing, unseasonably dry and warm weather this was to be the start of our introduction to the REAL late Autumn weather of the UK.  It turned absolutely horrible!

Fortunately we were able to visit one more amazing Abbey ruin before the rain and wind spoiled everything-  Rievaulx Abbey.

Abbey through tree's sm

_MG_9585  3  sm

Our final day was spent braving what felt like monsoonal rain and winds.  The roads were quickly becoming quite flooded in places and of course the spectacular landscape of the Lakes and the lakes themselves were shrouded in gloom, mist and constant heavy rain.    It was quite a hairy trip to be honest and I kept thinking we were going to get stuck between flooded roads and stranded there.

Lakes flooded car 1

Lakes house waterfall  sm

Miserable view of the lake shot quickly from inside the car.

Lakes skew pic

Lakes sheep flooding

What a trip!  It was amazing, frustrating, incredible and exhausting.

The endless supply of castles, fog, beautiful Autumn colours, quaintness, weirdness….all of it…just so well worth the long journey over there.

One last one for good measure.  One of my favourite fog pictures that I’m sure will be used later in a manipulation.

Castle fog




Our Travels to England and Ireland (part 2 – Wales and the South of England)

Upon arriving in Holyhead after catching the ferry across from Dublin we had the choice to go either left towards the North of England or right towards Wales.  Nothing was planned you see.  This was to be an entirely “where the wind blows” kind of trip.    The weather, sadly, after all that sunshine in Ireland was not looking great in either direction so ultimately we decided to just head down through Wales.

My biggest regret is that we did not allow more time in Wales because almost as soon as we began driving through there I could see that it was the most magnificently scenic place.  The gorgeous multihued hills and valleys of Snowdonia , even in the rain, were so incredibly beautiful…..and….there were no hedges!   Halleluliah !

Scenery  sm

Snowdonia sm

The Welsh people must have decided all those years ago  – “Lets create the most complicated, difficult language all of our own and stick as many consonants and double letters that we can possibly think of into our words, just for kicks.”  They must have extremely flexible mouths and tongues.   You nearly have a car accident driving past signs craning your neck at them trying to pronounce the town names.


I had seen a photo on google prior to our trip when I was researching scenic places in Wales.   I had forgotten to note down where it was, when all of a sudden….there is was!  I was very pleased to get this pic of a quaint little tea room next to this stone bridge.

Tea room 1  sm

Unfortunately though that day as we drove through the winding mountainous hillsides of Snowdonia, a plague of fun runners descended upon us.   The emerged like thousands of ants out of nowhere, madness in the rain….and unfortunately blocked the roads in many parts preventing us from stopping so I could get out and take photo’s.

Snowdonia runners

I did manage a few though and the autumnal colours were especially beautiful!

Curve road autumn  sm

Gate autumn colours 2  sm.jpg

Autumn forest sm

This quaint little town was a place we stayed at on our return journey before our departure back to Dublin. (worth a walk around as it is sooo pretty!)  Never could quite work out how to say the name though.  What’s with the Y in the middle?

Sign 2

House on river sm

Wales waterfall stream Betwtsy

Bridge sm

They say it rains a LOT on Wales, so if I could do it again, I would definitely have allowed more time in Wales to “try” and get a dry day for photography purposes – and besides, I’m sure the more you poke around, and the more scenic walks you take, the more magic there is to be found.

My husband was eager to find a “big arse castle” to explore.  He complained about the “small puny castles” in Ireland.   I was quite happy with them (they weren’t all small anyway!) and besides, as I told him, I didn’t think ALL castles were meant to be monstrosities.

So he was happy when we visited Caernarfon Castle.  This is where Prince Charles was apparently dubbed as- The prince of Wales as a teenager.

Big ass castle 1  sm

Of course my husband had to explore every inch of it, and walk up every darn turret…..and I tell you what, walking up those spiral stone stairs is quite precarious, slippery and wet in some places, and it gets narrower the further you go up!   Hell on your legs and gee… wouldn’t want to be too large!

Bg ass castle Richard  sm

I much preferred photographing the outside of the castles – that’s what I was there for, to get beautiful castle images to put in my photo manipulations.

At one point I refused to go up any more turrets with my hubby and simply sat in the grounds and soaked it all in.   I felt very lucky to be able to be there absorbing the surrounds and almost pinching myself thinking “Well wow, here I am, in this far away land, sitting inside the walls of a magnificent castle!”

Big ass castle view 2  sm

Let me say this now, it IS worth buying the English Heritage castle pass. The upfront fee is well worth it as almost every Castle, Abbey and ruin costs to get in and it adds up very quickly!  Not to mention that everywhere you go you have to pay to park!

We had the most dreadful meal we have ever had on our first night in Wales.  It was a Chinese buffet place and I tell you what, we should have listened to the reviews on Trip Advisor.  For a start the waitress was wearing studded ugg boots.  I don’t think I have ever seen studded – like spikes, ugg boots before.  Talk about bondage in your slippers.  The entrée buffet was all a one colour palette .  If deep fried could have a colour, this was it.  Just looking at it clogged my arteries.  The main meals consisted, it appeared, of boiled meats coated with sauce out of a jar….and the dessert buffet….well, I have never seen lollies and marshmallows served as dessert.   Blegh!

We stayed in a B&B just out of Wales as an overnighter before heading towards the Cotswalds, which we had read and been told was a really pretty area to visit.   This was the only B&B the entire trip that I didn’t like.  The guy running it was not that friendly and the room, although perfectly clean to look at, smelled funny.  I kept complaining to my husband about the funny smell but he couldn’t smell anything.   He told me that apparently it was a pet friendly room.    “Maybe someone slept in here with their sheep then.”  I said, because it smelled like I imagine the odour of freshly squashed between your fingers, sheep poop would smell.   Not that I have ever squished sheep droppings.   I slept with the window open and my little bottle of roll on perfume with the lid off next to me.

The Cotswalds, well they were a bit of a disappointment to us because once again we were in the land of hedges travelling there and as it was a long weekend there were SO MANY people out and about enjoying the rain free weather.  The little towns (where all the rich people retire apparently) are quaint enough, but some areas are absolute tourist traps with stupidly expensive shops lining the streets, nowhere to park, and just hoards of people clogging up the streets.   Stow on the Wold particularly we didn’t like but Upper and lower Slaughter were much less touristy and less crowded.  But really, it held little interest for me from a photographic perspective.    I would have loved a shot of a quaint little town with no cars parked on the narrow streets and no people.   – that just didn’t happen- anywhere in the UK.

Speaking of rich people….Oh how the other half live hey.

I snapped this image of a rich persons mansion through a tunnel of tree’s then as we got closer took a few pics of the property.  Imagine the life…

Manor through the tree's sm.jpg

Manor Upper slaughter sm

Manor 2 sm.jpg

Picture perfect with the row of geese…

Manor 2 LR sm

Our next major stop was in Dartmoore.  Now I have to say this was our most favourite area to visit and explore.  We loved it mostly because…..there were NO HEDGES on the Moors!

Let me explain how the hedges in England and Ireland made me feel.   – Angry.  I was there, principally to photograph beautiful landscapes so to have all these hedges blocking my view was truly maddening! It honestly felt like we were holidaying in a maze.  I almost felt claustrophobic.  Ok so periodically there would be a gate in the hedge for farmers to access the fields but the roads were so narrow and twisty that it was just not safe in most places to pull up in your vehicle so you could jump out and take a photo of whatever took your interest out there in a paddock.  The locals sometimes drive very fast and the speed limits to us seemed really unwise.

I went through the five stages of grief with the hedges and in the end just wanted to set fire to them all!

If we could have done it all again we’d have spent far less time trying to navigate these back roads in the country and would have driven directly to the next place via the motorways and THEN googled, or looked at the map book the English Heritage castle pass comes with to see if it was worth all the hedge drives to get to specific places around our point of accommodation.  Honestly, we wasted a LOT of time driving in the mazes not seeing anything.

So Dartmoore….  Lovely area.  Seemed to be quite a hub for Pagan sorts of things.

The lady at the B&B we stayed at – an old converted school house, gave us directions to get to a particularly special Pagan site where lots of rituals take place.

It’s called Wistmans Woods.

It was a fair walk out there, and very muddy, but I was so pleased we went as it did truly feel a bit magical.  Unfortunately the light was NOT magical, but none the less I did take a few photo’s of the symbols etched into the mossy rocks and tree’s.

Would you trust a signpost like this?  We did, even though I was a bit nervous about walking out there so late in the day…

Pagan site signpost sm

Walk to Wistmans woods sm

Pagan site 2 sm

Pagan site  sm

Pagan site 3 sm

There were these magnificent looking cattle in the moors area too.  So photogenic and they seemed quite docile, even though I am still a little bit wary of anything big with pointy horns.

Long haired cows  sm

Long haired cow majestic sm

They say not to feed or approach the wild ponies on the moors – all I wanted was a photo but ended up with one almost climbing into the front seat with me!

As you can see from this series of pics, I am wary of large animals even if they don’t have pointy horns.   I ended up sitting half on my husband’s lap and half on the gear stick while the pony had this look on its face like “What IS her problem?”

Pony 2

Pony 5

Pony 8Pony 9

Our next stop was the Isle of Wight because we were staying with a cousin of mine who I had never met.  So glad we did because she and her husband were lovely and we really enjoyed the visit.

It’s pricey to get across to the island by ferry, and probably not high on the list of most tourists, but I found the Island to be quite lovely and scenic.  Similar to the mainland I suppose in a lot of ways but perhaps a bit quieter.  They still have hedges, unfortunately.

We visited a historic house where Queen Victoria lived – Orborne House, and died in the very bedroom and bed that is still on display.   Unfortunately no photography of any sort was allowed inside the premises.  I got told this at least three times, sternly, and I tell you what, if I’d have as much of raised the camera from my chest where it hung I reckon I would have been stampeded and tackled to the ground in seconds.  Worth a visit if you are into the Royal History, but not much good for photographers wanting nice inside shots to create eerie photo manipulations out of.

Some shots I took on a day out having a look around the island…

Islewight 2 sm

We walked up this hill huge so I could get a shot of this ruin.

Islewight Richardsm

Lovely open landscape as the sun began to go down….

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Oh look….a real fence!

Islewightfence  sm

From there we drove straight to the outskirts of London where we were to stay for two nights so we’d have a full day in the city.  I was exhausted and didn’t want to walk my feet off around a city and almost stayed to have a rest day in the hotel but my husband convinced me to go with him in the end.

Eating out in London city itself was cheaper than we expected.  We thought it would be way more expensive….but, we were still eating at fairly cheap places, pubs and things so really, I guess if you went to a fancy restaurant in London you’d be paying a fair bit more. Transport on the trains was also way more expensive than in Australia.    We did go and see a show “Lord of the Dance” which was pretty cool.   No shortage of shows to see that’s for sure.

What can I say about London?  It’s crowded….all the shops are expensive.  The river Thames is nothing spectacular, especially in comparison to Sydney Harbour. We went on a ferry up the Thames but it was not that scenic. In fact I was so exhausted that I fell asleep.

But….hey, in Green park, near Buckingham palace we saw Squirrels!

Richard squirrel  2  sm


As I am still suffering from the effects of jet lag I think I’ll stop now and do a third part of where we travelled up to the North of England and even popped into Scotland one day for lunch.

Thanks for having a read. Hope it is of interest to those of you with the travel bug. J












Our travels to Ireland and the UK …. (part 1 – Ireland)

Ok, so this is going to probably be an epic blog post about our experiences of our travels in England and Ireland….but if you’re thinking of heading over there you might find this mildly interesting or maybe even a little bit useful.  I’m also going to bombard you with photo’s too…because I can, and after all that’s half the reason why I went there.  :)

I’ll start with Ireland since that’s where our trip started.

We visited some old friends in Dublin and they were so lovely, even lent us their little souped up Mini to tour the place with.  This little car had some guts but it was a feat fitting all our luggage, and ourselves in it!  My husband is very tall so I was surprised his knee’s weren’t around his chin, but he seemed to fit all his limbs in ok.

Car mini

So let me tell you about Ireland.  Irish people do not own bladders.  Seriously, they do not need to pee apparently because there are NO TOILETS in Ireland!   I foolishly brought my bladder with me and it was a major inconvenience for the majority of our trip.  The amount of time we spent driving around looking for toilets was unbelievable!

One gardener in a park told me it’s because of the drug user problem there.   Heck, we have drug users here in Australia too, but we still allow them to pee!

No service stations that we stopped at had toilets available to the public, parks were out, pubs were closed in the mornings and when we drove out on the country roads the hedges prevented you from finding a quiet little spot.  There WERE no quiet little spots anyway it seemed because there was always a tractor coming along, or a potato truck, or a person walking their dog, or yet another car…..and the hedges?  Oooh you’ll be hearing about the hedges from me!

Look at this picture. It gives me post traumatic hedge disorder.


I’m telling you, there is a PLAGUE of these things over there!

I had a very unfortunate incident in one place as we drove to check out some ruins.  I REALLY had to pee.  It seemed deserted, so I quickly ducked in on the side of the road next to the car.  Before I even got back into my seat though I suddenly began to feel a horrible, painful burning sensation on my bottom….  which grew and grew in hot prickly intensity.

I began wailing to my husband “ I think I sat on some stinging nettles!” – which of course he found highly amusing.    All I had to ease the sting was some apple cider vinegar in my suitcase.  Handy stuff to have for many things, and as it turned out, although I smelled a bit like a tossed salad it DID actually take most of the sting away.

On one other occasion I found a discreet enough spot only to nearly have a heart attack and trip over my britches because an unexpected cow stuck its head over the fence and moo’d really loudly at me!

All very undignified really.  A few portaloo’s round the place really wouldn’t have gone astray.

So we travelled from Dublin up to Belfast.   Cities don’t do much for me but I will say this, Dublin was very quaint in comparison to Belfast, which seemed for the most part colourless and full of row houses and buildings.  Belfast to me seemed like a very “grey” place.

We visited the Titanic museum in Belfast.  It was a bit meh, to be honest.   Overpriced really.

They like their flowers in Dublin – and most of Ireland.  Pretty little flower boxes seemed to line every window, and especially pub windows.  I’ve always thought of pubs as kind of blokey places, but in Ireland if you want to find a pub look for the pretty flowers.   Or, just look for a corner, because almost every corner has a pub, most likely adorned with flowers, and no doubt blokes too.

Dublin city pub2 sm

Pub sm

House vines sm

House vines quaint street sm

I found Ireland to be a very quaint pretty place, perhaps even more so than the UK.

Accompanied by our friend we drove out to Glendalough- a Monastic site which has a very old cemetery .  (about two hours from Dublin- worth a visit.) The history of these places is amazing and mind blowing and I just LOVE old cemeteries.

That tower, I believe, is over 1000 yrs old!

Tower and cemetery sm

Headstones sm

Nearby was a lake which we walked around and the reflections were so pretty as were the forest surrounds.

Reflection 1 sm

There really was no shortage of interesting and photo worthy spots in Ireland. You would only have to drive a short way before seeing some sort of ruin or pretty scene.   The worst part of it was the sign posting.  Ireland sucks as far as signs go.  In fact we thought there was some kind of Irish larrikin running around sticking up signs boasting non-existent castle ruins, or walled gardens just for fun to confuse the tourists!  And none of the signs had any indication of how far it was to the supposed attraction?   Could have been in the next county for all we knew!  Another thing too , especially in Northern Ireland was that some of the signs were in Irish….so you had no idea what they said!

Here’s one of my favourite castle ruin in Ireland.   I won’t try and name all the castles we visited because 1 – I’ve forgotten the names and 2)  Trust me, there is no shortage of them!

Castle edited 2 sm

Ok, so here’s another… Blarney Castle where you are supposed to kiss the Blarney stone and receive the gift of eloquence. I wasn’t about to kiss a piece of rock that hundreds of others had slobbered on and I’m eloquent enough as it is, thankyouverymuch. Besides, you had to almost hang upside down over the edge of the castle to do it!

Blarney stone Castle sm

And another….

Castle green LR sm

On my agenda of places to see was “The dark hedges”.   A scene from Game of Thrones was filmed here.  Not sure why they are called hedges because really they are tree’s.  I guess they just like darn hedges so much that anything qualifies.  We stayed overnight at a nearby hotel so I was lucky enough to get shots in very different lighting.  The fog that rolled in the next morning was simply delicious and gave the scene a totally magical look!

Dark hedges 1 sm

Dark hedges mist sunrise orange 2 sm

Dark hedges fog blue sm

I always imagined Ireland to be nothing but huge expanses of green fields and meadows so at first I was a bit disappointed that the Emerald Isles didn’t seem quite so Emerald. In fact there were places in the North where the landscape was very burnt orange.

Orange fields sm

But of course the more we travelled the more green we saw…

Green Ireland sm

I had to laugh when our friend in Dublin told us that when his young kids had spotted some sheep near a cemetery with red markings on them they asked why they looked like that.  He told them that at night the zombies come out of the cemetery and bite all the sheep.

Maybe a zombie smurf got to this one as well?


We visited the highest cliffs in Northern Ireland  ( Slieve League cliffs )  – higher apparently than the Cliffs of Moher.  We left it late getting in there after we drove from Belfast so it was quite late when we arrived.  There was a gate at the bottom of a hill and at first we thought we’d have to walk up.  Luckily we didn’t – and discovered you could actually drive up, because it was quite steep and a long way to actually get to the main car park lookout.

Ireland highest cliffs 2 sm

I spotted a little bird there on a rock who seemed to want his picture taken so I obliged and as I did so another tourist ran up to me and asked if she could “have that picture”.   (Um, not really?) Something about her daughter being a painter or something.   Too bad I couldn’t just teleport it off my camera screen into her hands.

Bird rock sm

We did a surprising number of things which involved heights in Ireland and I am actually afraid of heights so I don’t know how I ended up doing them.  I suppose having a camera in your hand somehow quiets your inner chicken.

I did NOT like walking the rope bridge. ( Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge – Northern Ireland)

This was built to allow fishermen to cross the cliffs with their salmon catches apparently, many years ago.  My husband kept saying “Why didn’t they just fish somewhere else?”   A lot of hard work and effort to be dragging all those fish up massive cliffs and across precarious, in those days, a one roped hand railed bridge….   I’m glad there were two rope rails for us tourists, but I still could NOT look down between the wooden slats at the ocean below!

Rope bridge 1 sm

Rope bridge sm first

Rope bridge expanse sm

Then of course we did the Cliffs of Moher, which probably for me was my favourite spot out of all the places we visited in Ireland.  Just breathtakingly gorgeous!  Here again I really seriously had to reign in my inner chicken because there were no fences!  When you walk around the tops of the cliffs – well you’ve got two options…There is a narrow goat looking trail for the brave and adventurous which is closer to the cliff edge and below it there is like a trench like path that wusses like me can walk – all the while yelling at stupid bloody husbands who think it’s fun to give their wives heart attacks imagining becoming sudden widows by walking on the more treacherous upper path.

Moher cliff edge sm

Moher the chicken trench

Below is my husband walking ahead of me while I’m having panic attacks behind him.

Moher Richard sm

Moher 2 sm

We sat around for sometime waiting for the sunset.  It was quite lovely just enjoying the view from so high up.

I took advantage of other tourists who plonked themselves in my way just as the sun went down.

Cliffs with randoms sm

Crazy people, sitting right on the edge like that!  Where is her inner chicken???

On top of the world sm

We decided not to do the Giants Causeway as by the time we got there it was midday and sucky light for taking pics, throngs of people were everywhere and it cost money to go and see it, which we thought was ridiculous!  Probably a nice spot just on sunset IF there were few people around but we decided to not bother.  Instead I rather liked this shot of some hay bales I got near there.

Hay 2 sm

Unfortunately due to time restraints we were unable to get to, and explore Kerry, which I believe is also another amazing place to visit in Ireland, but all in all for a ten day jaunt around I think we did well to have fit in as much sightseeing as we did.

I feel thankful that I did not wet my pants once.

Gotta love the Irish humour too…😉

Erection sign

I’d go back and explore Ireland again in a heartbeat.   The quaintness, the scenery, the history were all wonderful.

Things I wouldn’t pay to see or do again would be the Viking Museum in Dublin and the Cork city Gaol – museum.  Both were overpriced and a bit ho hum.

Grabbing life by the………….. :)

I can’t even begin to explain how excited and nervous I feel at the moment.

In three weeks’ time my husband and I are going on a long awaited trip for five weeks to Ireland, Wales, the UK and Scotland.

I say long awaited because it’s always been my dream to explore these places and it was supposed to happen back in February but due to a house move and our elderly dog who had a bad time dealing with the move and arthritis flare we put it off until October.

And now…’s nearly time to go!

Oh my God.

I am just thrilled thinking of all the amazing, beautiful, historic, magical scenes that await us.

We haven’t even been able to PLAN this trip because every time we start there just seems to be an abundance of amazing things to see… we’re just winging it.

We only have two nights booked.  One in Sydney, the night before we leave and one when we arrive in Dublin.  The rest of the trip will be “wherever the wind blows” kind of thing.

I feel nervous because we’re leaving the kids- ahem, well they are really adults now, at home to fend for themselves, and the dog….well he’s still alive and kicking but recently had another bad arthritis flare.  He’s all good now, and hopefully stays that way.  (Please, please!)

I feel nervous because oh my….it’s such a LONG flight over there and although I’ve become MUCH better with flying, well…it still makes me nervous and the idea of being trapped in a plane for all that time is something I really am not looking forward to.

But getting there….arriving….the beginning of our adventures- the things I am anticipating we’ll see and do?  Oh wow.  I am just over the moon thinking about it.

Obviously this is right up my alley – all of the fantasy elements I will be able to bring to my photo manipulations.

I am SO lucky to have this opportunity.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to do as much travel as I have been able to these last few years and it’s all due to my husband’s hard work and sacrifice he’s made with his job – having to travel extensively himself for work.  We’re doing this all on points and will probably still be able to do another trip later on the same way.  He really wants to explore Europe.  Hey, I’m happy…. as long as I have a camera I’ll go wherever!

I believe in the value of life experiences.

Life is too short to be wasted on being afraid, of putting things off until “the right time”.

The future is such an unknown.  You’ve just got to grab life by the balls and ….hang on, lol!

More creepiness with “Puppet girl”.

Yesterday Shai and I had another scary photo session.  Lord knows what the neighbours think when they see us in action in the backyard.

I’m calling this “Puppet girl”..

This is the original image – bearing in mind I had no idea what I was going to create, I just told Shai to “Do some weird poses”.

Puppet shai  BEFORE

After seeing that one I decided that she looked a bit like a broken puppet so I set to work creating a manipulation.

I soon found that I didn’t like the angle of her right arm so I chopped it off and got another photo where the arm was more in view and angled it to the position I wanted.

I created “strings” or ropes from existing wires (lights hanging) in the background image – (incidentally from Pixabay – no attribution required) and made it look as though they were hanging down to points on her arms.  There left the problem though….The wires/strings would need to look as though they were tied on to her arms.

So I came up with this…I stole my husbands sock…stuffed it with cushion stuffing, shoved it in the sleeve of the dress and hung it from the clothesline and photographed it.  (I told you the neighbours must think we’re weird.)

It worked!

Here is the “fake strung up sock arm”  .

Rope sleeve

Many adjustments were made to make this look like it was part of the sleeve/s.

I also decided I wanted her dress to be longer – so I manipulated that….and I just wanted the tips of her toes showing as though she is balancing almost on her toes – so I hacked her feet off and just made the toes barely visible there under the hem of the dress.

And then finally, the finished result!

Puppet girl  Sm  PNG

If you’re interested and want to see more of mine and Shai’s work, come visit us on

Starting fresh – Photo’s of an abandoned criminally insane asylum.

It’s been a while since I blogged here.

I’ve decided to revamp this blog as in recent times I have become completely absorbed in all things creative, especially photography, so I suspect that this will evolve into a much more photography based blog.

I’ve changed the name from Ramblings by Desertrose to Twisted Gypsy as I feel much more twisted gypsy like these days, and it IS the name of two of mine and my daughters (Shai) facebook pages.  – Twisted Gypsy designs and TwistedGypsy Creative Photography, which I do want to promote.

Of course, no doubt I will still ramble a little though.

Our 16 year old son took myself and my husband out for a little drive recently.  He’s been learning to drive and has been hassling my husband to let him have a go with the 4 wheel drive, which of course has terrified my other half but reluctantly ( and with some prompting by me) he allowed my son to take us on a little trip to the site of an old abandoned criminally insane psychiatric unit.

I’ve known this place was there for years but was unable to locate it, till now.  Of course, I was willing to undergo some nerve wracking dirt road driving by a learner in order to get the goods…..Nice juicy CREEPY photos!

He did surprisingly well though…. And it quickly became evident that it wasn’t the first time he’s been behind the wheel out there on those roads. Hmm.

This old insane asylum, or what’s left of it, because it has been vandalised a fair bit and well, trashed really by the dirt bike riders and whoever else frequents the place –  I’m sure there is much unsavoury activity that takes place there as it IS right in the middle of nowhere in the bush.

It used to be known as ward 21 and as far as I know, because there isn’t much information out there about it, it used to house some of the most deranged murderers and hardened criminals in Australia.

It closed in the early nineties and the patients were sent to Long bay Jail.

I expected the same dark, oppressive vibe that the still operating part of the hospital has, which is set few kilometres away, but to my surprise it didn’t have that feeling to it. Sure, it was creepy, as creepy as any abandoned falling into ruins site is, but I found it strangely empty of any “bad energy”, and I’m usually pretty sensitive to weird feelings that places give off.

Maybe I was just too preoccupied taking photo’s and trying to not fall into any holes.

Here are some images from the days shoot….and lastly a composite image I created titled “Banshee”, featuring Shai as the model.

Outside buildings sm PNGWall entry sm PNG 2Wet room sm PNGPool 2 sm PNGBathroom sm PNGBanshee sm

Ghosts : I am both a skeptic and a believer.

Last night Shai (my now 19 year old daughter) and I sat and had a long discussion for the first time about our experiences which occurred for a period of nearly two and a half years in the previous house we lived in.
Some of you may have read of a few of the experiences in my blog over the years.
I want to summarise them all in what I hope is a cohesive documentation of the events.

The house we live in now is completely devoid of any feeling or vibe or residual energy- whatever you may call it, and for the past three months absolutely nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.
This was not the case in the house we moved from.

The house was not at all ‘spooky’ in any way whatsoever.
It was a nice modern bright airy house that overlooked a beautiful lake in suburbia.

We had been living there for only a few weeks when the first strange incident occurred, and in the presence of a friend of mine.
After a day out we returned home when a small tennis ball “appeared” on the carpet in front of the kitchen sink.
One minute it had not been there and the next minute – there it was.
Nobody else was home.
It was not our ball, or my friends, or the previous tenants. Neither of my dogs played with balls and this one was small – one I would never have chosen to buy myself as it would be a choking hazard for them.
It looked brand new.
It was a mystery, but nothing sinister, just a bit…odd.

From that moment on things began to happen.

We heard footsteps- heavy boots walking on the wooden floors.
Doors would slam.
Bumps, bangs. Loud bangs like the noise a bird makes when it slams into a window….and yet there were never any stunned birds.
Crashes like a chair or barstool falling over on the wooden floor…but when we looked nothing would be amiss.

One night I woke in fright to the sensation of having been poked really hard in the arm.
An insistent poke intended to wake me up. The feeling lingered on my arm minutes after I sat up in bed expecting to see someone there.
Nobody was there.
Another time after falling asleep on the couch I woke to feel someone kicking the side of the couch really hard.
My daughter began telling me she felt as though someone was watching her in her bedroom.

A feeling came over the house. Both my daughter and I could sense it.
I can’t even describe it. A presence.

My mother came to stay overnight for the first (and only time.)
We didn’t dare mention a thing to her. Not a word. Not even a hint of what had been going on.
The next morning she complained and asked who it was that was clomping around the kitchen in the middle of the night.
“Sounded like someone in big heavy boots!” she said.
It was none of us and she knew it. She never paid another visit and told us “something is not right in that house.”

After a year of living there one of our dogs, only six years old, inexplicably went totally blind. Overnight.
She lived for a year like that but then began having seizures and we had to have her put down.

One day my daughter who was home alone walked into the kitchen and saw our cat lying on the wooden floor being “spun in circles by invisible hands”. The cat was distressed and meowing….My daughter couldn’t believe her eyes.
I couldn’t believe my daughter.

My eldest daughter came to house sit when we went on holiday and the cat suddenly began behaving strangely.
One night he was sitting on the end of her bed staring at her “with big round saucer eyes” she said….when he suddenly opened up his jaws really wide and showed all he teeth and then lunged at her.
(That gave me goosebumps writing it.)
For months he began acting completely out of his usual placid nature and actually began attacking us.
Chasing and biting us.
We even took him to the vet but they could find no physical reason for his odd behaviour.

One day a strange overpowering dead smell began emanating from the lounge room (I always felt a heaviness in that room in particular)
It was like the smell of something rotting.
We checked the roof cavity, under the house, every possible place a dead rat or possum could be but found nothing.
It was awful!
It lasted for about three or four days and then suddenly went away as quickly as it had come.

One evening my husband and I were sitting in bed when all of a sudden the ceiling fan above the bed began spinning. Slow circles, once, twice, three times and then it simply stopped still, as if a hand had stopped it’s motion dead.
“Did you see that!” I exclaimed.
My husband is a non believer.
“It was just a breeze.” he insisted.
Every single door and window was closed.

One night my daughter came in to me in a state…the first time I’d seen her truly terrified.
She described how as she lay in bed trying to fall asleep ,her laptop on her desk which was shut down, turned off, the lid closed, began to make a really loud noise as though the fan was on overdrive.
Simultaneously a large green orb floated above the desk and the green light it radiated lit up the entire room and had someone been standing outside she said, they would have seen the light streaming from the window.

Another time I had left my daughter downstairs in the garage to duck upstairs to get something when she came running back into the house shaken.
What she’d seen she said was like “special effects from a movie happening in real life”
A heat gun that had been sitting on the bench suddenly rose up 30 cm or more off the surface, hovered in the air for a few moments before dropping from the air back onto the bench top.

This scared me more than anything previously because it seemed to be escalating.
If an object could be picked up and dropped what else could be moved…or thrown?

We called somebody in to do a house cleansing.
I was skeptical but I couldn’t think what else to do.

Miraculously for quite some time things seemed to be calm.
The house felt “lighter”.

Shortly before we moved out things began happening again.

We saw phantom cats. Dark shapes of cats anyway.
Heard them too. Jumping off benches and thudding to the floor.
A friend heard something one time too. It wasn’t just us.

The final experience I had which is one I will never forget was when I saw a girl in a grey hoodie. A girl as real as you and I, walk up the front stairs, confidently, as though she was completely used to doing so – into the house. I heard and saw the screen door open and close… She came into the house and then simply… disappeared.
I searched the whole house. There was nobody there.

On the very last day I was there when I’d finished cleaning downstairs, I was alone and turned to the empty room and said “Well….goodbye house… we’re leaving you now.” and from upstairs a door slammed HARD.

I look back at these events and cannot believe they actually happened.
I find it hard to believe other peoples “ghost stories” because I am a skeptic.
There HAS to be a rational explanation and I always try to look for it first.
But in the light of all that happened over those two and a half years, I am a believer.
Never in my life have I known anything like it.
I cannot explain it, except to say that there appeared to be something not of this world, not of our understanding OF this world happening to us during that period of time.

Before and after – Photo manipulation.

This has been a challenge but I wanted to try something different to push myself creatively.
I found an image on Pixabay (commercial free images that are donated by photographers) and went to work on creating a magical Hobbit Village.
I didn’t want any people in the picture…just wanted the scene to make viewers (hopefully) imagine those that dwell here and the lives they would lead in a place such as this.
It was so much fun to create, but time consuming finding all the right elements. Luckily I had some photo’s I had taken of church doors but most of the elements I had to find through Pixabay.

Have I achieved the magical mood I set out to create?

BEFORE – The image that inspired this…
rock-235417  small

After – Where my mind took me.

A world of make believe small  smaller