Saturday, December 29, 2018
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
It was a short but violent storm with hail blowing in through the cracks in the door.
|Hail coming through cracks in the door|
I said to my neighbour that I was glad to be inside and not sitting on the plane we could see through the window, unable to dock as our plane was in the way.
'Spare a thought for those in the air circling the airport,' she said opening a radar app and showing me a tight bunch of planes hovering over Melbourne. Turned out she had once worked at the airport. (Her estimate of a 30-35 minutes wait was two minutes short.)
Monday, November 19, 2018
The singers and musicians (under the baton of the magician Pietari Inkinen) did credit to the music and the audience loved the whole thing.
Eva storms off the stage at the end, which I thought decidedly odd but then I remembered this is an English gentleman's club that her Walter had been blackmailed into joining. I would have stormed off too.
(I couldn't help thinking about Brexit and all those Tory fellows in their clubs hankering after their colonial past.)
Thursday, November 15, 2018
I set off down a Melbourne street to find a bookshop, followed some schoolkids into an alley and found myself in 'the southern hemisphere's biggest under-cover shopping precinct'. It is a series of shops with pedestrian bridges across intervening streets. Mercifully no Muzak, so it is relaxing, especially on an early morning week day.
I asked a passer-by where the nearest bookshop was and she scratched her head and said "Well there used to be lots, but the only one I know if now is right at the other end of this street. Just keep on walking and you'll find it."
|So much stuff....|
|Three storey of clothes shops|
Friday, November 02, 2018
Sydney is breaking heat records with 37.5C today. Last night was one of those nights where you toss and turn, then finally at 2am you get up and change your bedding to summer weight.
Today was a scorcher and tonight will still be warm. Will we drop off from exhaustion or will we be still more zombie-like tomorrow?
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Monday, September 24, 2018
|Qantas pilots discuss matters arising|
"Weather looks alright," they said.
"Yes, but it's windy."
A friend said later that comment would have stressed her out, but I was so busy trying to sketch the pilots without being obvious that I didn't really think about what they were saying
It was a bit bumpy in the air, but nothing like the lumps and bumps on the way up two days earlier.
Friday, September 21, 2018
I am staying not far from the cultural centre of the city, the South Bank. To get there I walk over a bridge dodging down an unmarked set of steps at the other side to get away from the roar.
At the QPAC (Queensland Center for Perfoming Arts) last night the comments by two couples about my plan to walk home after the concert were instructive.
The Queenanders who had come from Melbourne 50 years ago said " Oh it's a short walk, you probably wont won't need a taxi. And it very safe too!"
The born and bred Queenslanders said " Oh that's a long walk!"
Those comments say a lot about Brisbane. I did walk home and at a brisk pace it took little more than 15 minutes.
C'mon electric car makers, get a move on. Make our cities livable.
|From the bridge at night. The pink poles are on the neighbouring bridge|
Thursday, September 20, 2018
|Stuart Skelton as Peter Grimes|
Skelton managed the first act, then handed over to a stand-in. Although not well, he very generously acted the rest while his substitute stood at the side and sang from the score. It makes a big difference to have someone who can act the part on stage, even if they don't sing and Skelton is the quintessential Grimes.
Last time I saw a substitute sing in the wings was in Leipzig when a lead singer in Die Frau Ohne Schatten was ill and in that case an assistant marked the singers movements. It helped, but was not nearly as successful. This is when you realise that opera singers really have to be good actors as well as extraordinary singers. It is a very demanding profession.
21 Sept. Addendum: I got an email from Queensland Opera today apologising that Stuart Skelton was unable to sing the full performance. Apparently the doctor diagnosed severe pollen allergies. He'll apparently sing the full concert on Saturday.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Such concerts are difficult to put into words - thus the nearly four week gap between seeing and writing. Do see it if ever the Australian Chamber Orchestra play it in a hall near you.
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Friday, July 27, 2018
Almost 10 years ago a friend in Germany told me she had tried several of the producers of photo-books and had found fotobuch.de the best. I ordered one shortly afterwards. Fotobuch.de has custom software that you download onto your computer. To make the book you open the software then load your photos either automatically or manually.You add captions, or poems or other descriptors, choose the page background, photo frame size and colour etc. I always place photos manually and spend lots of time fiddling to make each page looks as good as I can make it. I have made quite a few over the years and each time I discover new features.
The main problem for me is that they don't ship to Australia so I have to make them when I am in the EU or get others to bring them for me. Two days ago I realised that the photobook I had made of recent photos could be brought home by traveling family members if I ordered it quickly enough and had it sent to Scotland where they are staying. They leave next Friday.
I put the order in on Wednesday evening, Wednesday morning their time. The fotobuch.de website says it takes 3-5 working days to produce books, and because I ordered two somewhat different books (one for me and one for them) I guesstimated five days but hoped for four. If they were sent Monday evening they might just make it to Scotland in time.
An hour ago, Friday evening (Friday morning their time) I received an email saying the books have been delivered to DHL. Production took only two days and now they are on their way. I was sent a shipping number, so I can track them on the DHL website, which currently says they are being delivered to the local distribution center. It looks promising, but I have no idea of shipping times in Great Britain. Surely books that have been produced in two days could be delivered in six? I have my fingers firmly crossed.
[To fotobuch.de if you are reading this: I love your product, but please consider shipping to Australia!]
Sunday, July 01, 2018
Before I returned to the shop this time I went to the local library and looked up coffee machines in Choice magazine. I was chagrined to discover that this machine got a very low rating when compared to others (so much for google 'research'). I made a list of the top four and set off again to the shopping center. I returned the machine for a cash refund then looked around for something else. None of the top machines were sold by Harvey Norman so I went around the corner to a Bing Lee shop where they were all on display. I bought the one at the top of the list and although I was asked if I wanted extra insurance there was no hard sell.
|Breville Barista Express|
My new machine is a Breville, rather more fancy and expensive than the other but it works like a dream and makes much better coffee than my older simpler one. Despite all the driving I consider myself very lucky the two Sunbeams failed and I ended up with a much better machine. The experience taught me to do better research than just looking on google before buying such items and it also made me wonder about Harvey Norman, Would I have got my insurance back for the failed machine? Why are they selling only substandard models? Is that true for all their products? Questions, questions.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
|Haferstuten= oat loaf|
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Simon O'Neill, the New Zealand tenor was one. He is one of those rare tenors who can sing Wagner repertoire. Since I heard him in 2014 his voice has deepened. It is now a rich and resonant treat. He sang the Wesendonck Lieder and his German diction was flawless. Congratulations Simon, it was a wonderful concert.
The other musician I saw on Sunday was very different. He was sitting at a painted piano on the Wellington (NZ) waterfront. He played the way my self-taught father used to, with the left hand strumming time to the right. I found myself humming his tune all evening.
Addendum 23 June: Today I read that shortly before the Wellington concert, Simon recorded a lullaby in German and Te Reo Maori with the NZSO as a gift for the new baby of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (More about the recording here.)
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
|Interior with chair and hat|
Today's effort frustrated me so much I scraped the whole thing off then drew into the mess left behind with the knife and a wet rag. I enjoy scratching away with a palette knife. Tonight I decided to draw into it with Indian ink but discovered that my bottle of Indian ink has long since dried up. Tomorrow I will buy a new bottle.
Addendum (next day) I discovered today that Indian ink is no longer sold as people use it to tattoo themselves. I will have to check art shops because surely it is still needed for Calligraphy? (The man from the office supplies shop told me that typing fluid is also no longer sold as it was being sniffed. It made me wonder how many other products have been disappeared for our own good.)
|I added a little more colour and strengthened the darks.|
Saturday, June 02, 2018
|Knitted wool jumper - old now, but warm|
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
|Pot of bulbs|
My mother planted a great paddock of daffodils that flowered every year. Remembering this, I planted some daffodils in the lawn one year but they didn't thrive, flowering only one season. My mother's soil was temperate clay and fertile, while I live on an almost tropical sandbank.
Addendum (next day):
They're in the pot, watched over by Ms/Mr Kiss
|The bulb container watched over my Ms/Mr 😘|
|Concert sketch: Leppänen, Selby and Valve|
Hearing these exceptional musicians in an intimate setting (the Uniting Church hall in Turramurra) is a special pleasure and word must have spread as the concert was well attended. Several attendees were in wheelchairs. I hope if I ever need a wheelchair I live near a venue visited by such wonderful musicians.
I went with two people who are seated much more often on bicycles than concert chairs.
The were captivated and commented, "Oh they are so completely in time!" and 'What fun they are having - they obviously like playing together!' What fun to experience the concert through their eyes.
Selby and Friends are playing in Melbourne, Adelaide and at the City Recital Center in Sydney this week. Catch them if you can.
Monday, April 23, 2018
Friday, April 20, 2018
Nicole got a very enthusiastic reception as did Satu Vänskä who played a short solo on her new violin which has the most remarkable clear sound. I am sure you have to be a virtuoso to elicit this sound from a violin but I was captivated and astonished by this instrument in her hands.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
The speaker is soprano Ayse Goknur Shanal who together with three fellow musicians (kemane player Ali Yıldız, bağlama player Deniz Şimşek and pianist Ashley Hribar) gave a wonderful and wonderfully heartfelt concert 'Anatolia', at Sydney Opera House Utzon Room on Sunday. They were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of a migration agreement between Australia and Turkey with a concert of Turkish folk songs.
|From left: Ali, Ashley, Ayse aand Deniz|
|Lighting of the Sails|
Then I met a Chinese tourist who was also attending the concert I was seeing. On discovering I paint, she showed me (on her phone) her personal collection of art works. They included some astonishing needle-worked art that she said were very expensive (artist unknown). This was her third visit to Sydney but her first to the opera house.
My other neighbour at the concert was a Turkish woman who was an avid opera fan and who spoke excitedly of the many operas she had seen at the opera house or on the harbour.
The day had been much hotter than usual in April and I had almost left my woollen shawl at home. However, I was very glad the hot weather had not diverted me as the venue was cold then even colder. As the concert progressed my shawl crept over the knees of we three women and my two neighbours were as grateful as I was for the warmth. Being linked with these women in such a way made me think of Ayse's words about deriving joy from small things.
If you use Facebook, the concert (part 1) can be viewed here.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
|In the Concept Garden: a nod to conceptual art|
|Pan plays his flute|
|Mad Haters tea party: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" |
Answer: "There is no answer."
|Tudor garden - keeping the hedge clippers busy|
|Food storage house|
|Fence and Kumera garden|
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
Hobbiton probably needs no introduction because, as I discovered, it is still wildly popular. Tours were setting off every 10 minutes the day we were there and some of the more popular tours with food included were booked out months in advance.
My travel buddy got the last two tickets to a lunch-included tour a month ago because the tour which included an evening ''banquet' was book out. (Yes, she is doing nothing by halves and I am swept along for the ride, which I confess to finding very interesting, if just to experience the enthusiasm of the fans. ) I was rather afraid the food might be substandard bain-marie fare, but it was very tasty.
A friend who majored in sculpture at art school spent time in Matamata last year painting the hobbit house doors and props and I must say she's done a fine job. They look just as they did in the Hobbit movie.
Monday, April 02, 2018
The force of the water at Hula Falls has to be seen to be believed.
|Lake Taupo at Hatepe|
Sunday, April 01, 2018
|Trees in Taihape|
Thursday, March 29, 2018
|Dwarf from Lord of the Rings|
The WETA workshop has tours every half hour and they are very well attended. The level of interest in the art of film making seems to be high for every generation. The tour we joined was mainly over-60 year olds from Australia.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
|Sign: enter at your own risk ...just possibly.|
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Thursday, March 01, 2018
|The secret is to put as many plums on as you can.|
|Sugar plums and flowers|