Friday, 29 December 2017

Sublime Straddie

In a holiday tradition that began many years ago now, and that will continue for many a year to come I hope, we recently spent a couple of weeks on the beautiful island affectionately known as "Straddie". On a clear day, we can just see a tiny sliver of this island from our back deck. Many a time, I have wished for a gigantic flying fox to take me over the land and sea to Straddie's shores. Instead, we wait  for the early weeks of December to roll around and then we go, not by flying fox though!

Looking back towards a distant mainland.

Straddie is ocean and sand, wind and waves, seaweed and shells, cliffs and rockpools. For us, this beautiful island is also family and time, happiness and memories, nature and bliss. My young son would tell you that it's gelati "up the point" too!

White-crested waves rolling in to Main Beach.

Just one tiny shell upon the shore.

Tiny "caves" in wave-carved rocks.

Silvery and strappy leaves protecting the dunes.

A clinging cluster of barnacles.

Light and shadow forms a sandy crescent "moon".

Bright green "lettuce" clinging to rocks.

Blue sky beyond the Pandanus Palms.

Fading light at the end of the day.

It will be a little less than a year before we go back again... if next year goes as quickly as this year has seemed to, it won't be long to wait! 

May your new year roll on in as smoothly as the waves on Straddie!


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Time

It seems that it is Christmas time again. In our little neighbourhood, there are beautiful festive trees gracing many homes and welcoming wreaths on many front doors. Children call to one another across the street and draw on their driveways with coloured chalks. The sound of the odd lawn mower rings out with the birdsong and the occasional waft of sweetly spiced baking carries on the breeze. In the evenings, coloured strings of lights twinkle in the darkness. Tonight, on Christmas' Eve, I'm sure there will be a few treats for Santa and one or two carrots for the reindeer left out in the homes where young children excitedly wait for morning.

Nature seems to be in a joyous mood too. We have had quite good rain since the beginning of December and all is lush and green. Just down the hill, a magnificent native flowering gum has burst into bloom. Its blossoms are truly stunning. It needs no additional decoration. No twinkle lights. It is beautiful just as it is ...

A beautiful Australian flowering gum.

A cluster of Christmasy colour!

Merry Christmas!

I feel truly blessed to live where I do. Its friendliness and its peacefulness offer a quiet haven where family and friends and nature are close.  I wish that everyone around the world knew that safety and security. I wish that everyone had a place to call home.

Thank you to everyone who visits me here, who reads my words, who offers a like-minded connection and words of encouragement. I feel very lucky to have such kind visitors to my space here.

From my little pocket of the world, I wish you a beautiful day tomorrow with those you love.

Meg Xxx

Monday, 18 December 2017

Handstiched Felt Ornaments

I adore handmade Christmas ornaments.  I treasure the ones we have for our tree. I love to see each one emerge from the tissue paper it's been gently wrapped in between Christmases and then the beauty and the warmth of them nestled in among the branches and the tinsel is such a joy. 

This year, I hand stitched some felt ornaments to give to those we love. I so enjoyed the process of quietly stitching each one. I used the simple templates, from Melissa's tiny happy makings, some soft festive felt and a few strands of embroidery thread to make doves for peace and hearts for love ... 

A felt heart for Christmas.

A little collection of peace doves.

Doves and hearts and a little handmade to tuck in to Christmas parcels. Have you been making things for Christmas too?


Yarn Star Tags

Simple stars, formed in crochet cottons, make sweet Christmas gift tags. They would also make lovely little ornaments for a  festive tree. 🎄

 A 12-point yarn star.

On a circle of recycled cardboard, with little slits cut in at regular intervals, it is quite quick to weave these stellar shapes. The number of points the resulting star has depends upon the number of slits cut into the cardboard circle. I made 12-point stars and 16-point stars. This is the tutorial I followed to make these woven stars. It was very easy to follow and they would be a lovely craft project for older children too. 

To "jazz up" the cardboard circle, you could spray paint it gold or silver. (I did but it is not showing up very well in the photos.) Another option would be to use white card as this would certainly be a crisp contrast to the colour of the cottons. Variegated yarn looks pretty too!

A more complex 16-point star.

The yarn stars we've made will adorn our gifts this year. A little extra handmade for Christmas. 


Saturday, 2 December 2017

And Away We Go ...

The Christmas tree is up and dressed in all its finery. Parcels for far-away family have all been posted. Our boy has finished school for the year. Our old ute is partially packed and the dog is out-of-sorts because he knows something's afoot. He's right too ... we are about to head off on holiday!  Straddie here we come!

A glimpse of beautiful Straddie.

We're not going far, just across the bay to the island we love and visit every year. On clear days, we can catch glimpses of this special place out on the horizon but it's raining here this morning and that view is obscured by cloud. Hopefully, it will break and be fine and clear for the trip across on the barge later today.

One of the barges that ferries folk to and from the island.

We're set to arrive late this afternoon. I can't wait! As soon as we get there, and unpack the essentials, we'll walk across to the beach. We'll dip our toes in the water, feel the afternoon sea breeze on our shoulders, write our names in the sand. Perhaps, we'll stay until the sun goes down. 

The golden light of sunset on Straddie.

Our days will be filled with the beach and ocean, with long walks on the sand, with exploring rockpools and watching for wildlife. There'll be board games and beach cricket and lazy hours spent reading books under shady trees. There might be a little knitting and stitching too:) There'll be the sound of happy laughter and those contented sighs at bedtime after our sun-drenched days. 

I'll catch up with you all again when we get back home in a few weeks time. Take Care!


Thursday, 30 November 2017

A Grand Home's Gardens

A grand home needs grand gardens, don't you think?  The picturesque grounds of  "Vaucluse House" in Sydney are certainly magnificent. From the wisteria that wends and winds its way along the house verandah to green, grassy lawns and huge, mature trees. From a "Pleasure Garden" of botanical delights to a Victorian kitchen garden bursting with freshly grown food. There's so much to explore!

Let's begin our stroll at the beautiful, 1860s fountain on the front lawn. Surrounded by a bed of colourful flowers, it trickles gently into its circular pond. Beyond is more of the Pleasure Garden where we'll wander the paths for a while ...

 The fountain and its bed of pretty flowers.

An archway of roses invites you in to wander the Pleasure Garden's paths.

Just one of the beautiful roses in bloom.

Spires of purplish-blue bells.

Dozens of the tiniest pink flowers make a gorgeous cluster.

Flowering shrubs abound in this garden.

I could amble happily along the gravelly paths of the Pleasure Garden for hours, looking closely at every flower, breathing in their heady scents, but there's more delights further on. Come along! We'll walk around toward the back of the house now, past the stables and little farmyard and under the Jacarandas in all their purple glory.

 The old stables. Look at the S on top!

Some of the stalls inside the stables.

A little goat resting on the hay in the farmyard. 

Happy chickens too! 

 Shall we go along the path and through the gate?  After you!

Through that little gate, turn right and not far along is my favourite part of this whole historic estate. While Vaucluse House itself is impressive and the Pleasure Garden offered so many flowery delights, it is the kitchen garden that coloured me "green" with envy. Oh, to have such a veggie patch at my place!  Follow me!

 Lush growth in the kitchen garden.

An abundance of food!

Fresh fruit forming on a tree.

Bee hives for honey too!

And perhaps a rabbit fond of digging holes?

There is, of course, much more to explore but we'll make our way back towards the house now, past the old water pump that's just a stone's throw from the kitchen. Imagine! 

A reminder of times gone by.

I'll leave you here not far from the back door. I'm going back inside but perhaps you'll want to explore more of the grounds, turn left back at that little gate and wander happily. I hope you enjoyed our rambling walk!


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Historic Sydney Home

After a very indulgent high tea, in the 1930s tearooms of Vaucluse House, a long and leisurely stroll through the rather grand main house and around its peaceful grounds offers a peek back into a long ago past. 

Views of Vaucluse House.

Vaucluse House is one of very few historic homes in Sydney that is still surrounded by its original gardens and grounds. The house began as a single storey stone cottage built in 1805 but William Charles Wentworth, a politician, journalist and explorer, and his wife, Sarah, had a much grander vision for the house and land he acquired in 1827. Although that vision was never fully realised, it is a very stately home.

Today, as one of Sydney's Living Museums, Vaucluse House has been refurbished to reflect the times when it was the Wentworth family's home. Dark, heavy timbers and deep jewelled colours feature in the formal rooms. Any visitor would have been most impressed by such opulence. While the scale of such rooms was indeed grand, my favourite rooms were the scullery and kitchen. I loved the shelves of pots, pans, bottles and jelly moulds. The warm fire burning in the hearth. The bundles of herbs hanging from the ceiling. Far less formal with fewer airs and graces!

 A warm fire burning in the kitchen.

 Milky white old bottles.

Just one of many jelly moulds.

 An old wooden butter churn.

 Dried herbs hanging from the ceiling.

 Rows of pots and pans hanging on a kitchen dresser.

Vaucluse House is surrounded by magnificent gardens and expansive grounds which are a peaceful and green oasis in what is now the the modern and bustling city of Sydney.  We'll take a stroll through its beautiful gardens tomorrow ... 


Monday, 27 November 2017

An Indulgent High Tea for Three

In the expansive grounds of the historic Sydney home, Vaucluse House, there are lovely tearooms where one can enjoy an old-world "high tea" just perfect for special occasions. Spending time with two of my oldest and closest friends on a weekend get-together in Sydney, a rare occasion and a treasured time, was all the excuse we three needed to indulge ourselves. 

Together with glasses of bubbles, to toast our long-lasting friendship (of course;)  and pots of warming teas, we relaxed and reminisced as we sampled each tiny treat of our high tea. One of everything and two scones!

Tiers of indulgent treats for our special high tea.

The tearooms were built in the 1930s.

 Beautifully laid tables inside the tearooms.

The tempting menu and a pretty teacup.

Something savoury ... a tiny & perfect pumpkin tart.
(My favourite!)

Somethings sweet!
(I would recommend the little doughnuts with elderflower cheesecake filling.)

We oohed and aahed as we tried each little treat from our tiered cake stand. Unhurried and happy! My friends expressed similar delight at their pots of spiced and flowery teas. While I am not normally a tea drinker, I sipped a marsala chai and quite liked its cinnamony notes. 

Just a few crumbs left!

After such a delicious time, a long walk was in order, if for no other reason than to assuage the surprise at having eaten so much. Hence, we set off for a long and leisurely stroll around Vaucluse House and its beautiful grounds. Those photos another time ...