Sunday, 20 July 2014

Doctor Who .....

Look what my kids gave me for my birthday!

They know I am a Doctor Who nutcase and so they got me a whole pile of goodies that I didn't have.

As you know (if you follow this blog) I painted the door to my art studio/workroom as a TARDIS.  Now I have even more goodies in there.

They join my David Tennant figurines, my sonic screwdrivers, books, Dalek desk defender and Journal of Imposssible Things.

The cookie container shaped like the TARDIS had a light on top.  When you open it the light flashes and there is a sound like the TARDIS landing.

The bobble head David Tennant had his sonic screwdriver which also lights up.

I clipped the little red dalek book light onto the side of my lap top so he can watch as I work.  His buddy is much bigger.  He is my red desk defender dalek and he roams around my desk shouting 'exterminate, exterminate' .... lol.

Now somehow I have to convince my builder son to make me a TARDIS bookcase ...... ;)

I can't wait until August 24th when we get to meet the new Doctor - Peter Capaldi - my favourite had been David Tennant, the 10th doctor.  Followed closely by Tom Baker, the 4th doctor.  Didn't care much for Matt Smith (11th doctor) but after a while he sort of grew on me.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Whale of a Time .....

Fort Denison
 Had a wonderful day yesterday, despite the horrid weather.

Heading out to sea.  As you can see it was a very grey day.

Still we were excited to go.  Both of us rugged up with parkas.  Fortunately it didn't rain.

This is Fort Denison, a former penal site and defensive facility. 

The Sydney icon - the Opera House.  It always looks spectacular regardless of the weather.    

This red and white striped buoy stood out amongst the grey.

We saw lots of Black Browed Albatross flying and fishing.  Managed to catch one resting as we sailed past.

The whales were very elusive and it wasn't until we had been out a few hours that we finally found a Humpback.  Our guide was fairly confident it was a female.  I didn't care - I was just excited to see one.

"Thar she blows ....."

We followed her for about half and hour.  It was hard to take pics.  The swell was reasonable and trying to keep your balance and focus was hard.

I did manage to get some reasonable shots, considering she was a far way from the boat.  I had taken all my cameras and used the Canon EOS with my telescopic lens.

I was pleased when I got home and went through all the photos to find I had managed to get some reasonable shots.

It is hard to keep your balance, hold your camera ready, focus the damn thing and hope you are pointing  in the place where you think the whale will surface.

I liked the photo I managed to get of the whale and a Black Browed Albatross flying toward it.

On the way back we were lucky to have two dolphins come and play.  

I was lucky someone told us there were dolphins so we went onto the bridgedeck. I didn't get any photos as I was right on the bow pulpit and hanging on for grim death while I leant over to watch..... lol.

They rode in the wave at the bows.  They would swim just under the surface then jump out and back down again.  It was amazing to watch.

I have no idea how they managed to swim that fast, jump and not hit either of the hulls.

Kirribilli House
On the way back, we passed Kirribilli House on the starboard.  It is the residence of the Prime Minister when he is in Sydney.

Built in 1854 by Adolphus Frederick Feez, it is a twin gabled house built in the Gothic style.  William Morris Hughes, the PM (1915-9123) acquired the property for the Commonwealth Government in 1920.
Admiralty House
In 1956 Kirribilli House was set aside for overseas guests of the Commonwealth and for the PM's use.  Since then successive PMs have used it as their Sydney residence.

Alongside Kirribilli House is Admiralty House.  It is the residence of the Governor General.  
It was previously called 'Wotonga'.  It was built in the 1840s for Lieutenant Colonel J G N Gibbes. the Collector of Customs in the NSW colonial government.

It was sold a few times till it was purchased by the government in 1885  for the Imperial Navy's representative in Australia and then became known as Admiralty House.

It started to get bloody cold - in fact it felt freezing.  We rugged ourselves up but still stayed on the outer deck.  We didn't want to miss anything!

We arrived back at Darling Harbour around 4:30pm - cold and tired but very happy.
HMB Endeavour

My final photos were of the replica of the HMB Endeavour and the HMAS Vampire.
HMAS Vampire

Construction of the Endeavour replica began in 1988,in Australia, and the ship was launched five years later. Since then, she has sailed over 170,000 nautical miles twice around the world, visited 29 countries and many Pacific islands, and opened as a museum in 116 ports. 

The HMAS Vampire 'Bat' was the last of the country's big gun ships.  

The Vampire served in the Royal Australia Navy in 1959 - 1986.  It arsenal included :  
  • three twin turrets housing 4.5" guns (still in place)
  • anti-aircraft guns (still in place)
  • torpedo launchers
  • anti-submarine mortars.

I have a wonderful day - it was full of excitement and lots of laughter.  We struggled ashore, wrapped in our parkas and scarves, in desperate need of hot coffee, the ground kept moving .... lol.

There was a very nice bistro just near the dock so we sat almost on top of the outdoor fire and enjoyed a latte and a very yummy ricotta chhesecake sprinkled with home-made honeycomb and salted caramel ice-cream..... delicious!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Exciting Day Ahead ....

Went to Centrelink the other day to hand over all the paperwork and documents to become an 'official' Senior Australian.

I have had lots of dealing with Centrelink over the years.  Younger son was given a disability allowance when he was born until he was 16 because of his autism.  Husband was on a disability pension in the last 6 years of his life and as I had given up work to act as his full time nurse/carer I was given a carers pension until his death.

Even when he died I was given a 'bereavement allowance' for a few weeks which was a great help.

Centrelink had a horrid name - but in all honesty and fairness I have to say I have never had a problem with them in all the 35 years that I have dealt with them on and off.  They have always been helpful and supportive.  Maybe I have just been lucky in the people I have spoken with but I can't say anything else but be honest in my opinion about them and Centrelink as a whole.

Now I have to wait four weeks to find out whether or not I am accepted for a small part allowance from them.

I wonder?  Does that mean if they say no I won't be a 'Senior Australian' regardless of turning 65?  Maybe I will forever be 65 if they refuse .... wouldn't that be funny!

Next week, more exciting than having a birthday (because it is usually a very quiet affair with my fur babies & just passes as an ordinary day) is the fact that on Tuesday I am going WHALE WATCHING!!!  Leaving from Darling Harbour and heading out to sea.

I am so so excited!

I love whales and just hope I get to see at least one.  Be prepared - if I do see any there will be hundreds of photographs taken to keep the memory alive ... lol.

On top of that I love being at sea although I haven't done it since my 20s.  Must be in my blood.  My father spent most of his adult life at sea - both my sisters and I absolutely love it.  The only thing I don't like about the sea is seafood .... lol.

The photo (left) is of the trawler Nanagai that my father was the skipper of.  He would spend weeks away fishing and return for a week to stay with us then off again.

 He stayed with her when she was seconded by the US Army's small ships division during WW2.

I managed to get his records from the US a few years back including medals he was awarded.

It was amazing to see copies of the original paperworks - his signature on documents, information about his whereabouts, postings behind enemy lines, etc.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Heaven Is .....

Had to share this - the book has only been out for a few days and it is already #17 on the top MFM Bestselling List.  The other three books are still on the top 20 Best Selling List.

On top of that I am #27 on the 40 Top Selling Authors!

Anyway, enough of the self promotion .... lol.

I have an undeniable sweet tooth and not ashamed to admit it.  Anyway, I have discovered the delights of salted caramel.

Oh My God!

I am in heaven!  It is delicious and positively addictive.  I ended making a large jar of salted caramel sauce and keeping it in the fridge.

Do you know what a freshly peeled banana tastes like when you dip in into salted caramel sauce?

It tastes like a little hint of heaven.  Sublime.

I am not a very big fan of ice cream, in fact I wouldn't care if I never had any.  But I decided to try to make some vanilla ice cream with the salted caramel sauce rippled through it.  It worked and it was delicious!  I guess home made ice cream is a big difference on the shop bought stuff.

Now I am experimenting with other things to add it to.  I have made some macarons filled with the salted caramel.  They didn't last very long at

Now I am thinking of salted caramel cheesecake, banoffee pie with salted caramel, sticky dated pudding with it - heck I doubt I will ever use plain old caramel sauce again ..... ;)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

"The Lady" .......

Finished my painting.

Very happy with how it turned out and more importantly, the owner of the original photograph loved it.  It always makes me feel great when someone compliments my work.

The photo owner told me the woman attended a family gathering.

She had a lot of stories to tell - when she was young the country of Pakistan was created and she came from the other side of one country to the new one on foot.

When the photographer asked to take her photo she agreed but did not smile .... lol.

How wonderful it would have been to listen to all the things she had to say, all the amazing things she must have seen in her life.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Aging .....

Well July starts tomorrow .... for me it is a milestone, or rather will be.  I turn 65 in July so I will officially become a 'senior Australian' ..... rotfl.

To me it is just another number. Don't feel like I am 65 most of the time, in fact, in my head I am still in my mid 20s.   It is just the times you look in the mirror properly and realise that a few more years have crept by.

Or when you talk with your grandchildren and realise just how old they are.

I must admit that the years seem to go much faster as we age.  As a child the weeks seemed to drag by - it felt like we waited  years for the school holidays to roll around. But as the years pass the days and weeks fly by.

So much to do and so little time .... lol.

I have decided if I want to do all the things I have planned at this moment in time I will have to live until I am at least 230.  Now to just figure out how .... lol.

I have sent my latest book off to my beta readers so until that returns I have gone back to the paintbrush.  Have few ideas for another couple of books but waiting until I get some feedback from betas.

An online friend of mine found this great photograph and sent me the link.  I immediately contacted the owner and got permission to use it.

Still have a long way to go before it is finished but I must admit I am very happy with the way it is progressing.

I enjoy painting portraits of older people, usually I choose men as they seem to have more detail in their faces and their eyes.  But when I saw this sweetie I knew she was meant to be painted.

I love the character, the lines, the stories in their eyes that you get from someone who has lived a long life.   Each one of those lines has a story to tell and their eyes would fill a hundred or more books.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Tomatoes and Mulberries ....

I was amazed about a month ago when I went outside to hang some clothes on the line.  In a crack between pavers at the bottom of the stairs was a tiny tomato plant.  I was about to pull it out then decided I would leave it and see what happened.

I doubted it would survive because it is winter here, but figured it could take its chances.

Imagine how surprised I was when it keep getting bigger and bigger.  At the moment it covers about 2 square metres and it full of fruit.  The tomatoes on it are huge - bigger than I have ever grown.  It must be because I left it to fend for itself - I tend to kill most plants I look after.

Anyway, last week I thought I should sprinkle some tomato dust on it to protect the fruit, although I am not sure that the grubs are active in the cold weather of winter.

The first fruit is getting ripe and I imagine I will be picking it by the weekend.

The only down side is it is almost impossible to get to the clothes line - it has spread out from the bottom of the stairs across to underneath the line.

It seems like things that 'self seed' are healthier in my yard than those I plant.  I have clumps of Arum lilies (yes I know they are noxious weeds) that have appeared and one of the eucalypts in my front yard grew from the birds along with a mulberry tree.

I love mulberries - mulberry pie is my all time favourite fruit pie - but despite having the tree (although it is still a baby about 6 years old) and it bearing fruit I have never managed to collect any.

The native fruit bats get in long before I do.  Wish I knew someone who had a tree growing that I could collect the fruit from.  When I was a child it seemed as if there was a big tree growing in someone's yard in every street but now they are as rare as hen's teeth.

Probably because of 1) the mess and 2) smaller building blocks. Still they are something from my childhood that I wish I could have everyday .... lol.

When my parents were alive there was a huge tree in a nieghbours that I would harvest each year.  I would pick enough to freeze for them and for me.  Each year I would have enough fruit for at least two dozen pies throughout the year.  Sadly, both my parents and the tree are long gone.

When I was a child we always had silkworms, fed them on the large mulberry leaves then watched as they grew and spun their cocoons.  I doubt kids these days would even know about them.