Friday, 31 December 2010

Farewell 2010 .. Hello 2011!

It's here - the end of the year 2010. Another year gone and a few scant hours to get everything done that I said I would this year. The pressure, the pressure!! Then again, maybe that's asking a bit much - perhaps my to do list is just already half done for 2011!

The hot summer weather finally hit yesterday - we've had days in the last week when we've all been back in long sleeves and sweaters, but yesterday dawned clear with one of those typically bright blue summer skies, and today was no exception. We're back to opening up the house as much as we can at night and closing everything up into semi darkness (hard at our house with all our windows and glass) from about 7.30am with the ceiling fans valiantly moving the air around.

The pool comes into its own in this sort of weather and we all live in our swimsuits as we dive in, have a quick splash and then get out walking around in wet cossies and letting nature do its evaporative cooling on us :)

I've had the opportunity to get out on a few walks in the last week - they brought back to me WHY we moved out here a dozen years ago. The fresh air, the smells of the bush, the peace, being surrounded by nature, the fresh air and the togetherness that was possible in such a setting. I'll relate:

On Christmas Day while the kids were busy playing at Grandma's hubby and I escaped for a walk. Grandma lives closer to the highway than we do but being Christmas Day there was nary a car on the roads, so the distant rumbling of trucks and cars was unusually silent, there was no quad bike humming nearby, no tractor roaring away either near or in the distance (everyone who still had harvest to do had stopped for Christmas) and no fumes from any of the vehicles mentioned. Many varieties of birds were chirping, cicada's buzzing, the sun was warm but the air was cool. It felt so wonderful to be outside amid it all.

As I walked down the track in between the dry oat stalks (from harvest a few weeks ago) on an early morning walk this week, a light breeze started and the stalks rattled together, clicking and tapping, making an odd but delightful sort of music.

Last night I had to drive hubby down to collect the header from where he had been doing some late contract harvesting. The paddocks he had done were WAY down a little used track. As we entered the track there was a section of 'scrub' or 'the bush' - native trees and grasses - that we had to drive through. It had the most incredible smell - evocative of the walks I used to take myself on as a child on our farm on the north coast of NSW. When we finally got to our destination it was about 7.30pm the sun was low and not as hot, and we were able to appreciate the stunning vista before us, before turning homeward and back to reality.

So, do you all want move to the country now? :D

My girls will be 10 years old tomorrow, so whilst the rest of us reflect on the past year later tonight, they'll just be bouncy and happy waiting for 01/01/11 and their birthday! No doubt we'll be off in the land of nod by the time the clock ticks midnight - New Year's Eve parties are a thing of the past for us these days.

So, here's to a fabulous year - let's see all the new and amazing things 2011 brings to us all!


Saturday, 18 December 2010

Sydney Christmas Magic

I haven't been to Sydney in ages. After living there in my late teens/early twenties, I very much agreed with Banjo Patterson's lines in the famous poem, Clancy of the Overflow :
...the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city ...
not to mention
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste...

So, we usually bypass the city, concentrating just on what we have to do. We stay out of the city and avoid playing 'tourist'. I also usually go into sensory overload when we hit the city outskirts - the noise, the people, the cars, it's just too much for this country girl!

But after a quick visit there with hubby and the children earlier this week, I must say that Sydney can really turn on the magic at christmas time!

Firstly, we caught a train to St. James Station - it was just after peak hour so it was fairly quiet but we were greeted in the tunnel walkway with melodious notes from a busking flautist. We gave the children some coins each to put into his case, and he rewarded us all with a gleaming smile, a happy christmas tune and as we left his sight, a lighthearted trilling.

After helping some young mothers and their prams up the stairs at the end of the tunnel, we walked over to the famous David Jones store with its christmas windows. I remember visiting these as a child myself and wanted to share some of this with the children. This year they had marionettes singing various christmas songs in different settings.

A kind young man told us that there was carol singing going on in the store at that very moment, so went into the store and listened to the last of the carols. I can honestly say there's nothing like the Sydney City David Jones anywhere else in Australia. Something that every female should experience as part of growing up :D We veered off in different directions at one stage and agreed to meet back at the piano. Yes, DJ's has a pianist employed to play for the customers all year round on a lovely little Steinway.

Next destination was a wander up Pitt Street Mall. But on our way we took a slight detour into the Swarovski Shop in the new Centrepoint complex. Wow. Crystal chandeliers, a crystal curtain and some breathtaking crystal steps! Just standing near them made you feel like a princess in a fairytale. I wish I would have thought to take a photo!

Next stop was the Strand Arcade. I recall this being re-opened when I lived in Sydney and I recalled its old world glamour so I dragged everyone in for a look. Here was a fairyland of lights and christmas cheer. Gorgeous.

A short walk up to the Queen Victoria Building was next. I also remember this being opened (I must have lived in Sydney at a grand time!) and as we wandered up through the levels and took a ride in the old fashioned elevator, the feeling became more refined and we were rewarded with this gorgeous Christmas tree in the centre of the building, that went between floors.

Above the tree is a magnificient stained glass dome. Mind you taking this picture made me feel quite dizzy !

Even though we only did a small part of the city, it was such a wonderful morning. I think not having 'jobs' or shopping to do helped us to enjoy it even more and it was easy to ignore the gritty city and the hurrying people - we were just a family enjoying some of Sydney's christmas magic :)

Wishing you a sparkling festive week!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

Well, it's here. December! No ignoring it now - I'm getting into the Christmas spirit! No, the tree isn't up, and no the letter to friends and cards haven't been written, nor is the shopping finished. But it's been hard to resist the Christmas music, tinsel and glitter, red dresses and imagining fun filled parties and gifts.

If you want to get into the spirit of the season too, do pop over to this picture post on Bush Belles - and have your sound up so you can look at the wonderful pictures along with perfect music. It's so uplifting - guaranteed to make you smile!

Working with the red Christmas theme, I spent quite a bit of time yesterday photographing - trying out different sets, angles and jewels for a December front page photo for my site. I'm really happy with the shot I eventually chose - what do you think?

And then I made a bright red necklace (top) - I've had so much interest in red bamboo coral the last few months that I keep selling out of them, so thought I'd better have one to hand - this one is bamboo coral and sterling silver.

My open day last Friday in Coolah was fantastic and there are going to be lots of little white boxes with violet ribbons under the trees around here this year!

Since the weekend though, all it has done has rained. Has it been raining where you are? We've had well over 7 inches so far and today the sun is struggling to put in appearance. The highway has been cut by floodwaters in numerous places although we can still make it into our local town (much to the children's disappointment since they've still had to go to school)!

We had temporary waterfalls as the water ran down the hill and over the top of the retaining wall near the pool - the ag drains just couldn't cope with the quantity of water that fell in a storm that lasted about an hour.

Our dam is so full it is overflowing and the road near the gate is a few inches under water with water streaming out our front gate. Our sandy drive has washed away and left rocks in its place and I'm positive the cattle are happy the farm is on high ground!

I was planning on attending the Mudgee Art Vine Christmas Art Fair this Saturday - hopefully the flooding will subside so I can actually make it in there!

Till next :)


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