Sunday, January 31, 2016


Yes, a tropical heatwave. 
Much warmer than the temperature of 93 (F) in the song, and the day gets hotter.
Expecting over 100 (F) - 37/38C today and Tuesday.

Our air-conditioner broke down.
Nobody is interested in fixing it, just selling us a new one: $2,700, thank you!

Still searching for a tradesman....

I'm off to the Mall to cool down for a few hours.

Be good.


Saturday, January 23, 2016


It is Australia Day on Tuesday.
Long-term readers of the blog might remember this early portrait of Her Majesty in her wattle dress and brooch, worn during her first visit to Australia in the 1950s.

A small copy of the portrait appeared on an inspiration board at the lovely exhibition of gowns by Australian designer Collette Dinnigan, currently showing at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

The Irish Lass and I had a very nice time, drooling over the delicate and delicious garments.  I will show a tiny sample:

The inspiration boards were amazing - these are just shots of small sections..

Collette Dinnigan was the first Australian to launch a ready-to-wear collection in Paris, in 1995.

Of course, no visit to Sydney is complete without calling in to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where beckoned current blockbuster: 'The Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland'

Sir Henry Raeburn 'The Skating Minister' (attrib.)
It was just like meeting an old friend to see this famous work, beautifully and delicately painted.  And much smaller than I had imagined.  
(As people say when they meet the Mona Lisa).

Sandro Botticelli 'The Virgin adoring the sleeping Christ child' c. 1485.
Beyond beautiful, a fabulous Botticelli.  What more can I say?

Diego Velazquez 'An Old Woman Cooking Eggs' 1618
Spanish master Velazquez, only 18 or 19 when he made this tour de force of realism.  Fabulous portraiture and incredible little still-life scenes.

John Constable - I forgot to note the title, but it is one of his wonderful large detailed landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area around his home.  I have a great affection for Constable, and once led Mr C on a crazy journey driving in circles around this area attempting to get down near the river and Flatford Mill, which can be seen in this work.  We eventually made it, in the pouring rain, and I blissfully walked around taking photos and feeling part of Constable's world.

A tiny detail - a gypsy woman and child..

The River Stour and Flatford Mill.

And a few photos of the area, as seen by the Red Cardinals in 2009:

But I digress...

I did enjoy this large work by Frederic Edwin Church, a leader of the Hudson River School: 'Niagara Falls, from the American side', if only because we saw it with our dear daughter, who lives not so very far away from here.
Fabulous handling of the thundering water and mist, and almost better than reality!

Somehow this white-washed bird made it home with me...

and a dark green glass vase, a thrift find (hello Newtown and Alexandria)

Fish plate is enjoying Queensland - I rescued it for $5

A little bunch of silk blooms found in Katoomba and a pink rose effort by the Red Cardinal Garden of Extreme Neglect...

At least cactus don't complain if you go away for a couple of weeks...

And before I go, since when was the Pantone Colour of the Year two colours?
 2016 is the answer, Rose Quartz and Serenity are the colours.
Of course, Rose Quartz alone would be quite sufficient in my world...
I should be right on trend for The Wedding later in the year.

Have a great week.


Monday, January 18, 2016


We had family business in Sydney..
so did we fly there in an hour for a few dollars (or points)?

No, we decided to take to the highway -
the Newell Highway that is, 'Out West' at Goondiwindi, a four-hour drive inland from Brisbane.

Wide open spaces, cotton and canola fields...we headed South,

past rustic old inns and pubs, with towns slowly dying due to drought, and changing economics...

At Gilgandra, we popped in to their new museum, opened in 2015 to mark the centenary of the first Cooee March, a recruitment drive in World War I.

A local hero at this outback town had the idea of gathering a group of volunteers for the British Empire, to fight the war in Europe.  A small group set out from Gilgandra in October, 1915, marching all the way to Sydney, 640 km.
Passing through towns and villages, they called 'Cooee! Come and join us!'

In all 263 men walked into Martin Place, Sydney, five weeks later.
The Cooee March was the first of about ten such drives in various regional Australian towns.  Young men left the farms, their parents, wives and sweethearts.  Ten per cent of Australia's population went to WWI, and many never returned.

A hand made flag carried on the original march.

At first glance it seems preposterous that these men were so easily persuaded to go to the other side of the world, of which they knew almost nothing, to fight for the Empire.
But the taste for adventure, a change from a hard and predictable life, money in the pocket and a uniform to wear - these things have appealed to youth throughout history.  It was seen as their patriotic duty, and they went.

The map of the march showed us that we were taking the same route into Sydney, following in their footsteps.   
At the start of our road trip it was hot -
very hot, in the high 30s C.
But then we hit rain, and as we headed South, so did the temperatures.
We turned East after Dubbo, heading to the pretty, leafy town of Orange.
It snows here, so I'm guessing it was named for its Autumnal colours, which must be spectacular.

Our B&B had a beautiful garden..

and there was excellent bird-watching too.

Next morning, in pouring rain, we approached the Blue Mountains from the West.  Located on the Western edge of Sydney, the mountains are a popular tourist destination, with lots of old-world charm, spectacular scenery, bushwalking and enticing galleries and shops.

Beautiful view from hotel, totally obscured!

The mountains were wrapped in a thick, foggy mist.  The rain poured down for the next two days.  The beautiful scenery remained hidden.  The temperature was around 10 deg C, and we were cold!  The hotel had a log fire burning, and guests were drying out their sodden walking shoes on the hearth.

Much of the next two days, the fog came right up to the windows.  
We spent our time in a few of these:

and I found a couple of budget additions to my milk glass collection...

No, not all this, just the fishy plate, a small white comport and the rustic wooden fox.  

Mr Fox came from this gorgeous shop, Rick Rutherford's Country, in the pretty mountain town of Lawson.  Always on my 'must see list' when in the Blue Mtns.

At last, on Day 3, the fog lifted and there was the view of The Three Sisters, most popular attraction in the area.
It is hard to pick the scale from this picture, but people were climbing on the left column, and they looked like ants!

A little patch of sunlight emerged, as we said goodbye to the mountains and headed down the motorway into Sydney.

During the next few days, I did many of my favourite things..
eating, viewing art exhibitions, exploring the shops, and best of all, meeting a couple of fellow bloggers.

The lovely and talented Val, of Valerie's Sewing Blog, took me on a magical mystery tour of Sydney's best fabric bargain destinations, and what a day it was.  I had a great day, and for the first time in my life, I now have a real 'stash' - enough fabric to see me sewing into my dotage.  Well, eleven pieces anyway, and for less than $100.  The prices were incredibly low.  

I loved Pitt Trading best, a shop where attractive collectibles and antiques are scattered among the fabrics.  So pretty.

For a lively account of our adventure, pop on over to Val's blog on the above link.

Cabramatta, our final destination of the day
After leaving Sydney, we drove north to Newcastle.  The hot weather had returned and on a scorching afternoon I met the delightful Sarah Liz, of SarahLizSewStyle.  Sarah Liz is a pocket dynamo, full of energy and good ideas (like not doing photos: we were both expiring from the heat) and we enjoyed a couple of hours of getting acquainted, sharing sewing and life stories, and having a cup of tea.  Like Val, she is a sewist of exquisite ability, generous in sharing her expertise and techniques.  

Thank you both, ladies, you were highlights of my holiday.
Meeting a fellow blogger has always been such fun and rewarding for me, one of the pleasures of making friends via social media.

I will save the other Sydney activities for another post.

Hope you are all well, and that 2016 is proving to be a good year.

Take care