Monday, 16 May 2016

Macadamians, Magical Minnamurra, Macquarie Pass ... oh and Cheese

So did I have a nice time away? Yep.

The park was perfect. The view from my cabin too. Very clean and very quiet. Lots of ducks - some would knock on my door begging for food ... lol.

Drove down to Berry one day and went to the Treat Factory - oh my is that a big temptation place. I came out laden down with all sorts of goodies.

My one regret which I didn't discover until I got back to Kiama was a jar of Orange Blossum Honey wasn't in my bag (the saleswoman must have missed it. I didn't pay for it so it wasn't much use driving back down.)

Anyway I bought stuff for the kids and the kid in me. The pic is of some Honey Chocolate Macadamias and some delicious Wildberry and Macadamia nougat.

The nougat is divine - if I had of realised how good it is I would have bought more. The place does have an online store so if I succumb I know I can buy more. Sadly it doesn't sell the honey online.

If anyone knows where I can buy Orange Blossum pure organic honey let me know please.

I'm being very restrained and only eating a little at a time - I've lost over 8kgs so don't want to put them back on .... lol.


Anyway another day I drove to Minnamurra Rainforest. I did the Loop walk - would have liked to do the Falls Walk but was advised against it. There is a lot of uphill walking and it isn't easy. The day was magical seeing 4 Lyrebirds I mentioned in the previous post.

That same day I drove to Robertson to go to the Cheese Factory.  That is a drive from hell ... full of hairpin turns on  a very narrow windy mountain road. For most of the drive I was in second gear and even had to drop down to first a couple of times. Decided to come back the long way - big mistake. I'd forgotten that way was the dreaded Macquarie Pass.

Macquarie Pass is even worse, the only benefit was in a few places it is a wider road. Eight kilometres of sheer nail-biting terror...lol. Read about how dangerous it is on the link. Its actually one of the world's most dangerous roads with so many terrible accidents.

In some places the trucks had to back up to get around the hairpin corners.

Overall I have to admit I was disappointed with the Cheese Factory. I bought some Pecorino, a few different vintage Cheddars and some Pickled Onion Cheddar but there just wasn't the selection I'd hoped for. There was about 6 different Cheddars, some Bries, Camembert and the Pecorino plus two blue cheeses.


I grated up the Pecorino and put it in the freezer - I find it keeps best that way and you can use it direct from the freezer with no problem.

The remainder of my time was spent painting. I did a number of watercolour sketches that I can use as the basis for larger paintings.

Naturally I took hundreds of photographs - some to use with the sketches when I paint and others just for the fun of it.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Photo Fun....

So had my week away. Didn't get the rough surf that I've been looking around for a few years. The weather was perfect - sunshine the whole time, temps around 25c.

Looks like I'll have to take a trip to the central coast or to Wollongong when I read the coastal wave warning probably during the Spring or Summer when the weather is changeable.


One one of the days I took myself to the Minnamurra Rainforest  and was lucky to photograph 3 Superb Lyre birds in the wild, something that takes patience and real luck.

They were in the midst of the ground cover and hard to see but I did manage to get some photos.


But then I came upon a 4th... so close to me. I stood very still but was able to get a number of photos. He was wandering through a small stream turning over rocks and feeding before finally taking a bath.


I was amazed to see him turning over large stones in the middle of the stream in his search for food. Not only was he in water but the stones were really large compared to him.


Had a good play with my new camera and lenses - think I'll have to buy a different camera bag. It's very heavy carrying the four lenses and the camera.

I'm thinking I need to look at a backpack to distribute the weight better than having the satchel I'm using now.

Was fun using them all and seeing the results. I liked the macro lens, got some nice pics of a duck that came visiting.

One day I just happened to pass a bookshop ... honest I was only going to look, really that's all.


I couldn't help it - these couple of books leapt into my arms and I just had to rescue them. 


I mean I only took two books with me so I needed something to read in case.wink emoticon
Oh - I also found a new author - Lars Kepler.... now I love his books!



I read Stalker. It was a real page turner, full of suspense and very well written.

Once I got home I bought the rest of his books online...lol

Friday, 22 April 2016

New Camera (at last) ...

Whoohoo!

Finally I've bought a new camera.  Bet you all thought I'd never do it. All those years of procrastinating... lol.

Got a Canon EOS 760D.

As it's a new camera out I was able to get an introductory deal. Got the camera body, a remote control, a camera bag and a EF-S 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.

The deal was $250 cheaper than buying it all separately.
Kept my zoom lens because it's compatible but I did lash out for two extra lenses.

Got a Tamron Ultrawide 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 for landscape photos and a Tamron Macro SP90mm F/2.8 lens for when you just have to take a real close up of something special.

I added an extra battery, a 64gig memory card as well as filters for each lens. The nice salegirl gave me an extra discount of $200 because I spent so much money .... *snicker*

I won't be using the camera bag - too small to fit all my lenses in but I already had a very large bag so they will all fit in very nicely.

Mind you it now weighs a ton so I expect I will gain some extra muscle on my flabby arms ... rotfl.

I can hardly wait until I go away to have a really good play with it. I'll probably keep the local inhabitants amused as I swap lenses back and forth.

Stay tuned for masses of photographs of rocks, waves, sand and trees ... lol.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Portrait Workshop ....

Well the portrait workshop is over and done.I really enjoyed myself.There were only18 other people there so it was a nice number.

The presenter was fabulous. She, Kristin Hardiman, was down-to-earth and very approachable. Because there were a number of people there who had never lifted a paintbrush she decided it was best to start with the basics. She knew those of us who painted regularly wouldn't mind. I don't think anyone who paints would mind refreshing their knowledge.

We were given 8 colours - warm cool of red, yellow and blue plus white and black.  It reminded me of my father. I learnt to paint using the 3 primaries and white. I can remember pleading with my father to let me have other colours but he stuck to his guns...lol.

It was fun to see some of the newbies puzzle when she told them every colour could be made from those 3 primaries.

For those who hadn't learnt she showed them how to mix skin tones then we all had to make various tones. After that was discussing proportions, golden radio and composition.

Next job was for each of us to sketch out our portrait pics - there really wasn't enough time to do things properly. Then it was time to slap on the paint. We just had to do as much as we could in the time we had left.

Each of us had been told to bring along a photograph to work from. I'd chosen a very interesting portrait of an elderly Irani man.  I liked all the wrinkles and the pose. Rather than a person facing the camera he was caught unawares.

The only downside was it that we were to use acrylics - I rarely use them for some reason.  Think it's because they dry on the palette too quickly and you can't work them on the canvas either. Give me my watercolours any day ... lol.

Even though we were there for hours there just wasn't enough time to complete the piece. The first hour and half was just listening to Kristin, then the second to third was the mixing stuff and other details. 

It didn't leave much time for the actual painting stage. I managed to get the base on but it still needs a few hours work. As you can see there are only the bones in it. Think we only had an hour or so to do the actual painting part of the workshop, by the time we had breaks etc.

Anyway it confirmed that I really dislike acrylics. Maybe one day I'll do the same portrait in watercolours and actually finish it.

Ah it's so nice not to see any stupid comments on my blog ...

Sshh ... at the same time last week as I treated that person as spam I added their ID and email address to my website, emails and other social media platforms as spam so I don't have to worry about getting any messages through them either.

Since then their comments, emails, etc will forever float down into the great Internet garbage bin without me ever laying eyes on them....lol.  Peace at last.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Comments, Climate, Catnip ... and The Doctor

I've changed the way people can post comments. From now on all comments will be moderated. I have already marked one person's ID as spam which means it is automatically deleted and thankfully I never see it.  I hope I don't have to do it to anyone else.

I enjoy reading your comments but not when they become tiresome.

I just checked the weather forecast hoping we are finally heading for some cool autumn days. Unfortunately there are none on the horizon.

In fact the temps are going up again!

Last month (March) was the hottest on record for Australia and the way things are going it looks like April might do the same.

I wonder what the weather will be like when I go away in May?

Not much good looking at the average temps because they seem to be getting thrown in the rubbish bin.

At least I'll have the Tasman Sea at my doorstep, just hope I get one day of wind and rough surf to photograph.

When I work on my laptop I've found that Cali usually joins me. I have an old baby blanket alongside that she likes to sleep on. Occasionally Mr Spot will lie there too although he'd much rather sit on my lap.

I bought some catnip for them both. Cali wasn't impressed. Gave it one sniff then walked away. Spotty, on the other hand, found it wonderful. After rubbing himself in it he climbed up and tried crawling onto my computer.

Then he jumped down and rolled in it some more before suddenly falling asleep. It was really funny. I'll just have to make sure I hid the catnip from him ... lol.

Younger son and family went to the Royal Easter show - look at what they bought me as an Easter gift!

I am a great Doctor Who fan - have so many bits and pieces as well as my TARDIS door to the studio. They have bought me goodies before like a TARDIS cookie box that plays the theme when you open the lid and a bobble-headed 10th Doctor.

Winter time I have my 4th Doctor really long scarf to keep me warm when I go out...lol.

Wish I could get my hands on a life sized Dalek... still dreaming.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Cabins and Cameras and Commas ...

Well I've booked my week at Easts Beach - looking forward to painting all day and writing all nights   ... lol. Heading there in May.

The cabin I booked sleeps 5 and the shower looks as if all five could fit in at once ... lol.

The place looks really roomy and nice and clean. Even has a BBQ on the covered verandah.

I'll take one day to head up to the rainforest to photograph and maybe get in a sketch or two.

I've been there before and when I went I saw a few lyrebirds, even managed to get a blurred photo of one.

Hopefully this time if I do see one I'll be able to take a decent shot.

On that note I'm still umming and arring about buying a new camera.

Think I'll have to take a drive to Penrith - to Camera House and see what they have and what prices. Still leaning toward another Canon, mainly to EOS 70D because I mainly take landscapes/seascapes and after talking with several people it looks the best one.

There is a new 80D coming out but from what I've read and talked about it wouldn't do me any better and it's about $800 dearer - I can use the two lenses I have on any EOS. That would mean if I go for the 70D I could buy the camera body then splurge out on another lens. Maybe a macro or a wide angle or both!

Unfortunately the hottie in the pic doesn't come with the camera .... rotfl.

My inspiration for the hero in the MS
Time will tell if I buy it before I go away - my EOS 400D still has a lot of life left in it.

Going through my latest MS, have around 87000 words written. Its the story and an Artist and a Sculptor.

Now it's time to re-read and edit. Time to add bits, take bits away and tidy it up then I can send it to my beta reader before I do the final tweaks and polishes.

I've turned on the 'speech' ability in Word 2013 and am listening to it talk while I make any corrects when I hear something that doesn't sound right.

Every author has a crutch - sometimes it's a word they use too much or a phrase. For me it's Absolute Constructions. So when I go through the MS I have to make sure I don't have them close together or use too many.  

That was one of the things that pissed me off with the last editor - she picked up the missing words and spelling mistakes. She did find the extra commas but not all the grammatical errors which I think are really important if you want a story that flows.

So it was up to me to find where I'd used passive voice, too many/too close absolute constructions, incorrect tense. I even found a dangling modifier that she should have picked up as well as a head hop that somehow slipped in. 

On top of that I've sent off my short story to the new editor I've employed. Thankfully this new editor is also an author so he will know exactly what to look for. I really confident this time.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Ski Flying ...

I've got hooked on watching mens' Ski Jumping and Ski Flying. Last night the season ended so I'll probably have withdrawal symptoms for a while but at least I'll get to bed at a decent hour.

I've sat on the edge of my seat watching them fly, amazed at the distances they cover.

Early in the season I found myself favouring the oldest competitor - Japanese flyer Noriaki Kasai. He actually holds the record for the most individual starts - 501 and this has been his 27th season.
 He won silver at the 2014 Olympics.  He also holds the record for the longest jump for over 35s - 240.5m (789 ft).

So I really wanted him to have a podium finish. He did a few 3rds during the season but not enough to get him onto the podium at the end. Still he finished 8th overall, 5th in Ski Flying, Japan took 5th in the Nations Cup and he took 7th in the Four Hills Tournament.

The season was all Peter Prevc - he blew me away.  He actually got 1139.4 points which was the most ever. He also became the first flyer to win the title  3 years in a row.

He took #1 in everything except the Nations Cup where Slovenia came in 2nd behind Norway.

So now I have to find a new obsession to watch ... or else just catch up with the thousands of books I have and need to read ... lol

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Toys, Painting and Publishing ...

New toys ....

Discovered these great blocks!

Each tin has 6 coloured blocks - one is 6 graphite blocks and the other six charcoal.  They are made by Derwent and each blocks is 6cm x 2cm x 2cm. 

Can't wait to try them out. I've set up some paper on my easel and going to work through each colour/type. I'll let you know my findings if you're interested.


We Will Remember Them
I've booked in for a portrait class with Kristin Hardiman. She is a very famous Australia artist who specialises in equine, portrait and landscape works mainly in Oils.

I've only been painting portraits for about 5 or 6 years and most are animal so any tips I can get will be most welcome.

My Life Studies sketch club has finished for the term - Easter and then the school holidays mean I have to wait until May for it to begin again.

I'll try and work on some of the sketches I've done and see if I can build up some paintings. I'll also use some to test out the new toys ... lol.

I've finished my short story for the second anthology with 6 other authors. Now I need to find an editor. Last book I wasn't at all impressed with the editor I used - too many mistakes snuck through that I fortunately found before it was published.

So now I'm on the lookout for one that doesn't charge an arm and a leg. Some want up to or over $100 per 1k - my story is 30k so that's a lot of cash. Trying to find a cheaper one that doesn't skip half the mistakes ... ;) It's expensive enough when you self-publish so it's important to try and keep costs down.

At least my other books are done through my publishers and their editors are great.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Klutz ....

I've always known what a klutz I am - if something can be dropped, knocked, walked into, destroyed then I am the one who'll probably do it unintentionally. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll agree.

Anyway back to my tale - as you know each Saturday I work with a nude model. Because I prefer to paint my studies naturally I have a jar of water in front of me. Each week I tell myself to remember I have a jar of water and to be careful. Each week I somehow manage to listen.

So this week - stop for a 15 minute break to give the model, David, a chance to stretch out his kinks and to have a drink. Made myself a cup of Chinese White tea (you know the tea you drink black ...lol). Anyway drank about 3/4 and set it on the little table I use in the hired studio.

So back to work.

David does a couple of 10 minute poses then he'll do some 30 minute one. So I'm working on the 10 minute one - completely absorbed in what I'm doing .... yep you guessed it I imagine.

I go to dip my paintbrush in my tea instead of the water. Tried to do a fancy save but instead managed to send the rest of my tea flying. All over the table, all over the floor near me. Spent the 10 minutes wiping and washing up instead of painting.

I'm sure next time I have a cuppa I'll either finish it or else put it somewhere safe - like in the next room!

My other fear is singing out loud.

I plug my earphones into my iPod and let it rip. At home I always have music blasting out when I paint or write. My iPod goes on first thing in the morning and it gets turned off when my computer does at night. I plug it into a set of speakers hanging on the wall in the studio.

So anyway back to Saturdays when I go out to paint. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not at home and not burst into terrible out of tune singing...

I know I'd be banned if anyone heard me 'sing'.... lol

Who else out there in blog land is clumsy? Who else has to constantly remind themselves not to trip, walk into things, not drop stuff.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Bath Time


They say you should save water and shower with a friend ....

So Fozzie had a bath with a friend the other day.

Pippi is scared of baths - just like Fozz - so my lovely groomer decided to try them both together.

Fozz looked at Pippi as if to say "Don't cry. I"ll look after you mate."

Now I'm not really sure which one of them cried the most but at least when it was all over they both looked pretty spiffy.

Look at the difference in size!  Pippi is full grown and Fozz is a labradoodle so he has plenty of poodle in him.

Fozzie got shaved down in December to help him
cope with the heat - he is slowly getting his long curly coat back. By the colder weather he'll be all thick and warm again.

Pippi looked twice his size after the blow-dry ... all primped and read for action.

It was all too exhausting - Fozz had to catch up on this sleep when he came inside after it.

It's his birthday this month - 11 years old - so I guess we can understand the need to rest after such a tiring ordeal ... lol