Whenever I return from China I am asked “how was the food?” The food is fabulous; not every dish suits the western palette but most do. Don’t be put off visiting China because of the food, that would be a big mistake. Spicy food doesn’t agree with me and if you also have a delicate constitution then watch out for the chillies.
Allerton Garden on the lush green Island of Kauai in Hawaii is a must see for any garden lover. 80 acres of lush tropical trees and flowers with surprise sculptures around many corners. The Allerton is one of 3 Botanic Gardens on Kauai. This picturesque setting has been used in a number of films and TV shows, including South Pacific, Jurassic park, Magnum PI, Starsky & Hutch and Donovan’s Reef. Continue reading
Honolulu’s best kept secret is the Museum of Modern Art – an $11.00 Uber fare from Waikiki! So when the salt, sand, humidity and heat on the beach get too much, grab a cab to one of the best art galleries I’ve visited in ages – air con makes it a pleasant escape from the humidity too. There is a cafe and excellent restaurant; calm amongst the chaos. Photo: Courtyard Honolulu Museum of Modern Art.
In February 1968 I traveled to Australia as a young Karitane Nurse. Recently the letters I wrote home were discovered, my Mother had kept them all and some of the snippets, I think, are worth repeating here. Remembering I was raised on a farm in Central Otago and then I had been to boarding school so I had a rather sheltered up bringing!! My letter writing was prolific, 3-4 pages hand written most weeks. Postage was 7c Airmail to New Zealand. Continue reading
Somehow I’ve booked myself on an ‘expedition’ to East Greenland. I have no idea what I have let myself in for other than an adventure and a chance to see Icebergs!! It is my 70th birthday present to me!! We keep being told ‘you’ll never do it younger’ so I did it! – Greenland is the largest island in the world but also one of the worlds most sparsely populated regions. It originally belonged to Denmark. Pop.approx. 56,483 and only about 150 live on East Greenland. I am publishing my personal diary here so please enjoy and put this trip on your bucket list!
We arrived at a small airfield and joined our charter flight, duration 90 minutes to Constable Point in our twin prop plane…. We flew over vast flat waste land before seeing a few mountains to the north-west of Iceland. Suddenly below us were small white dots , actually icebergs and as we approached Greenland the sea was dotted with hundreds of icebergs sunbathing beneath a clear blue sky. We dropped onto a dirt runway and were ushered into a half-dome shaped shed with 58 pairs of rubber waterproof boots neatly lined up!
Essential Iceland is my short story about a one day trip I did in a very large truck from Reykjavik in Iceland generally to the heart of the country.
This was advertised as an all day trip. The Visitors bureau did not mention we needed to bring lunch and I presumed it would be supplied – anyway Valdi, our fabulous guide, took us to a gas station to buy some sustenance. ( it is on their website but I had not been privy to that.) Once on our way Valdi gave us lots of geological information about the mountainous region surrounding us. We headed north and then in land on sealed roads.
We passed the home of the only Icelandic Noble prize winner Halldór Laxness. Awarded in 1955. Laxness wrote poetry, newspaper articles short stories and novels.
‘Independent People’ is his most famous book set in the early twentieth century, it recalls both Iceland’s medieval epics and such classics as Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter. And if Bjartur of Summerhouses, the book’s protagonist, is an ordinary sheep farmer, his flinty determination to achieve independence is genuinely heroic and, at the same time, terrifying and bleakly comic.
I wonder if the recent movie ‘Rams’ was inspired by this famous Icelandic read.?
Iceland is perhaps similar to New Zealand..it has many waterfalls, lush green hills, volcanoes, glaciers and geysers and it is an island. The roads are two lanes however unlike NZ they drive on the right. And to be honest it is totally different so do some research and plan a vacation! To discover why Iceland and Greenland are mis-named check out this. They were cunning back in those days!!
Float plane & Luxury Fishing boat The Lady Di – a 74 footer at Boca Grande.
Boca Grande Florida is the upmarket holiday resort on Gasparilla Island in the Gulf of Mexico. B.C. became known when The Presidential Bush family purchased property there. The homes are palatial water edge properties boasting all day sunshine and sparkling blue water. One home I noticed had everything, almost everything anyway: open the front door step into the pool, exit the pool and board your yacht moored at the gate, say good morning to the Manatee or the Dolphins swimming past and perhaps chase the tall White Heron out of your pool. This is Boca Grande – – I didn’t stay there – I cruised past!
Nearby is a lesser known holiday destination… Little Gasparilla Island where I did stay. Continue reading
If you are travelling to Sydney read on..
I always book a Silver Service cab to take me to the Sydney airport from wherever I am. They are reliable, an excellent service. However they are more difficult to locate on arrival in Sydney so I usually take pot luck with a taxi off the ramp or better still take the train to the city then find a cab…much cheaper.
On arrival I had pre -booked Corporate Cabs Australia and they didn’t turn up!!
I’ve blogged about Sydney several times, check out this blog for day trip ideas and other tips.
Cafes, there are hundreds to choose from and some are doing very innovative food creations.
Menu items that caught my attention in Sydney this week were:
At my local Clovelly cafe The Top Hat I spied these:
Toast with sour cherry, fresh figs, ricotta and honey served on sour cherry toast.
Cold Drip Japanese filter coffee served on ice
Affogato Expresso served with scoop of ice cream; Yes we have affogato on menus too, desert menus but this was on their drinks menu-
You could easily swap the Sour cherry toast for raisin bread I think!
Lot 19 Cafe in Elizabeth Bay –
Poached eggs in clay on ratatouille with grana Padang and dipping toast
The Horny Bunny – Apple carrot ginger and celery.
I only had coffee and that was excellent and the folk were friendly.
A fabulous small Italian restaurant serving fresh cuisine, menu sample here.
Calamari Sant’ Andrea
squid fried, rocket, balsamic 22
tuna ‘tonnato’ 23
heirloom, figs 24
prawns, clams, cuttlefish, bottarga 29
I headed to the historic old Art Noveau Ritz Theatre in Randwick – interesting one car park building but no vacancies – not good for business and the street parking was only 1 hour! Anyway I enjoyed the movie; The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith. A great $9.00 worth- I thought Maggie Smith brilliant, I’d expect nothing less. The story is one most of us would rather not face – about being old and dealing with the elderly!
Re the theatre, it was built in 1937, it is an example of the art deco cinema architecture that found a home in Australia during the 1920s and 1930’s and has 5-6 theatres. It seems to have lost much of its elegance and style which is rather sad but it does run the best art movies.
The Opera House
I parked underneath in the enormous car park. They validate your ticket if you attend a show, parking was only $19.00 for 2 hours. So always ask. Sometimes there is a seal basking on the steps – a local resident so watch for him ( or her!) One of Sydney’s top restaurants is in the Opera House complex. Treat your self before or after the theatre Reservations suggested.
Lunch (Friday – Sunday 12:00pm – 2:00pm): 2 courses $100, 3 courses $130
Dinner (Monday – Sunday 6:30pm – 10:00pm): 3 courses à la carte menu $130
Another fun place to visit is The Grounds at Alexandria. A great selection of eateries and a few animals to amuse the children. Look out for Kevin Bacon!
Bus tickets sometimes cannot be purchased on board the buses, so buy an Opal card at a diary and put ten or twenty dollars on it, no expiry date. Efficient way to get in and out of the city. Parking in the city can easily be $50.00 for two hours!!
So this is just a few brief comments on our nearest getaway, Australia.. Air fares are cheaper than ever and Sydney has sooo much on offer. Watch for VIVID in May and June. The sails of Sydney Opera House will be lit with works by Indigenous artists for the first time this year for the Vivid Sydney festival from May 27 to June 18.
To photograph Vivid watch this video. and impress your friends with amazing images.
The shopping is amazing, remember to claim your tax back as you depart Sydney airport. Westfield in the city Level 4 has 3-4 fantastic women’s shoe stores, trust me I know!! There food hall is excellent, yes they have a Michelin Chinese eatery there. Din Tai Fung Restaurant… I love it. 188 Pitt Street | Shop 504, Level 5.
An Aussie funny to wind up with.
” We live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbour call the local council P & W office to request the removal of the WOMBAT CROSSING sign on our road.
The reason: ‘Too many wombats are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.”
True Story from Australia.
Sarah lives in one of the most idyllic places on the planet on Great Barrier Island. The island is only a 35 minute flight from Auckland but it is light years away from city life. When she was 17, recognizing the uniqueness of Shoal Bay she set her sights on buying a piece of land from her family and 12 years later she took ownership. Her dream was to be a successful potter. I’m not sure when she fulfilled her dream but now as a mother of a teenage daughter and younger son there is no doubt about her success.
Sarah’s studio in Shoal Bay is easily found near the Tryphena Wharf nestled amongst Nikau and fern alongside a gentle stream home to hundreds of tiny glow worms. Recently she had a bridge constructed to a secret bathhouse in the bush. Rustic or romantic(purely functional Sarah says!) you decide. She has a small character filled, self contained unit where you can escape the city for a day or a month. The room has a mosaic floor and other artistic curios adorning the walls and a large tree trunk is the centrepiece of this room full of quaintness. for enquiries contact Go Great Barrier and ask about ‘The Gallery’
In her studio Sarah throws pots and runs two gas kilns and a wood fired kiln – producing a wide range of domestic ware, tile work and hand built sculptures. The entire studio is a treasure trove of ‘stuff’ shared with a few friendly spiders and outside two fat goats help avoid lawn mowing duties.
I was inspired by Sarah’s enthusiasm and dedication and put a few questions to her.
Sarah, when did you decide to make pottery your career? and do you have any formal training?
I went to Carrington Polytech in 1990 to study interior design. As often happens in that environment where you are exposed to a wide variety of materials and techniques, I deviated from my path into design, having been captivated by ceramics. For the last 2 of my 4 yrs there I majored in clay.Returning to the Barrier the year after I graduated to build a studio on my fathers front lawn.Having felt the stigma of ‘stepping back from design to craft’ I was not setting my sights on being a ‘wealthy potter’Rather I was certain that I just needed to have a space where I could make stuff to my hearts content, and if that meant struggling forever to make ends meet then so be it
Have you won any major awards for your pottery/stoneware?
I have found that I manage to make a living mostly selling direct from my studio, as a result I am very complacent about entering into award competitions.However I did grab a couple of mugs off my shelf in 2009 to pop into the mug show at Lopdell House, Titirangi as I happened to be in town at the right time, And was honored to be awarded ‘Best mug in show’
Have you kept your first ever piece or didn’t you realise that would become a treasure?
I have kept one of my first pieces I made on the wheel and it is great to bring out when I am teaching someone to throw…. saying ” don’t give up…. see how bad my first one was!!”
Like your daughter you also went to boarding school at Epsom Girls in Auckland but you are an original Barrier girl. Were you born on the Island?
I was born to the island, coming home at 2 weeks old on Sea Bee Air.
What did your parents do on the island?
My Dad came here to retire in 1966, meeting my mum a couple of years later as she backpacked around and had 2 more children of which I’m the youngest.
You seem to have numerous projects on the go – how do you decide which one to start on every morning?
I have too much to do so I do what I want, usually motivated by what is inspiring me most at the time, although in saying that I’m currently working through quite a long order list so that takes priority…. and yes the lawns are being avoided.
Above is the outdoor bath and her new project is the bridge access.
What is your motivation?
I think I have the best job in the world, I get to create in a wonderful environment and can juggle it around family commitments. It is very seasonal so while I am flat out over summer there is a fabulous off season when I can sink my teeth into other projects.
Many young artists would be envious of your studio and space not to mention your success. What advice would you give to a young enthusiastic artist?
just start….. many things in the beginning were a bit daunting in particular the logistics of getting everything to and from the Island. As I look back I recognize things that used to be a challenge and now are second nature.
So next time you are on Great Barrier Island collect a gallery directory from i-Site and explore until your hearts content!
PS Say hello to Sarah and her goats!!