A Different Christmas

Christmas-alone

For the first time ever, Glenda and I spent Christmas day not surrounded by family. It just felt plain weird. Sure, there wasn’t the panic of getting everything ready, making sure the house was in a fit state etc etc, but we really did miss the hurley burly that is such a part of the Christmas day process. That being said, we had a lovely roast lunch, a few wines, joined the family for a while on Skype while they celebrated and had the traditional post Christmas snooze. We tried to get the animals into the spirit of the thing, but they just didn’t seem that keen.

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An Unexpected Fog

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Nothing is likely to get me out of bed in the morning like a good mist. This morning was no exception as a lovely, unexpected fog rolled in, deadening the sounds and softening the scenery. We took the dog for a walk in the dank mist. There is nothing quite like Australian rural scenes when it’s foggy. The gumtrees melt into the whiteness and the animals seem a little calmer and of good humour.

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We came across a few cows and their young along the way and they were just that little bit curious but unconcerned. A little later in the morning, I headed down to our creek at the bottom of the property. The mist had risen considerably at this point, but was still lingering a little in the background. It’s a beautiful setting and I hope to stagger down there one evening when the light is golden..

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First Days

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The start of our discovery year began with us finishing up our employment. Both of us felt a certain sadness about this. For me, it’s the people I will miss. They are a great bunch at Millennium and I have known most of them since they began there. After nearly 10 years, I have strong friendships with many of them which I hope will continue on. My last night was a great night, with all the interstaters down for the Christmas do. The was lots of toasts and hugs, not a little wine and cheer and finished off with espresso martinis in the wee hours of the morning. Bliss. Thanks guys!!

The next morning, bleary eyed and not a little hungover, we packed the car to the hilt (I refuse to travel light!) and headed off. First stop Lakes Entrance in a charming, and charmingly named, Warm Holes Cottage. We didn’t see much of Lakes given we both fell asleep upon arrival.

Next morning, early, we headed off to Ingebirah, which is about 20Km from Jindabyne. We had a choice of routes… the long sealed road or the shorter dirt road… no real choice in my book.. the shorter road it was. And what a choice! We headed up the Snowy River Road through Buchan, after which it become very narrow for a period. No room to pass an oncoming car or any areas to pull over. It would have required reversing. We didn’t meet any other cars though. I have to say, this is probably the most beautiful road I have driven on, and I have driven on some wonders. The scenery is just wonderful – Mountain ash trees, vistas of the layered snow mountains with the shades of grey and blue and the fast running snowy river wending its way through. Very distracting when you are trying to keep four wheels on the road!.

We arrived at our new home in Ingebirah around lunchtime. They are about 1Km up a dirt track. Rob and Donna, the owners, are a lovely couple with a young lad, Ryan. The property is amazing. Five acres spotted with gnarled and twisted snowgums. About 3 acres is mown and manicured, with a variety of cubby houses, sheds and chook pens around the place. The bottom part of the property is natural bushland which slopes down to a fast running rocky creek. The house is large and modern, with all the modcons, including a gym (oh well) and games room. There is a huge decking with uninterrupted panoramic views of the snowy mountains.

I woke up on the first morning and headed onto the deck. There were a few cockies and galahs in the trees (not making a noise surprisingly), the chooks were pecking away around the grass and a big grey kangaroo came bounding up through the back yard from the creek. The kookaburras were singing in the morning. What can you say really… it’s somewhat pleasant!

We have in our charge a lovely old staffie called Oscar, a very aloof old cat called Scooter who seems to sleep almost all the time and our five plump ladies, the Isa Brown Chickens. These girls are VERY productive giving us 5 eggs every day and sometimes a sixth! We share these with our neighbours down the road.

We walk Oscar first thing every morning. It is so good to walk a dog without a lead! He loves to chase the rabbits and kangaroos, which of course he never catches. I believe he also likes to take on wombats. Very brave! We haven’t come across that yet.

On our first day, we drove out to the trout farm and sorta got conned into catching fish there. We caught a couple of big rainbow trout, which of course we then needed to pay for. Most expensive trout EVER! But they have been and will be delicious.

Yesterday, we drove out to Charlottes Pass up in the mountains. This is the gateway to the walk to Mt Kosciuszko, something we didn’t want to attempt on the day. We are both still a little lethargic after the last few hectic months plus the altitude is taking some getting used to. We hope to get up there later on. The drive through the mountains is again, sensational. The flora is at its peak at the moment with carpets of yellow, white and orange covering the rugged rockscapes. There is still snow on the upper peaks which makes a great backdrop.

Enough for now. I will post some photos up in the “jindabyne” gallery soon. I have been a little lazy with the camera while I get a feel for the land, but I do hope I can get something worthy of this amazing place.

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Elwood Blues Club last of 2013

OK, I admit it. I am a sucker for female vocalists belting out the blues, so what an extra special treat last night with 3 of the very best giving their all, and then some. Fiona Boyes headlined the night with her amazing variety of sensitive and sensual melody, contrasted by some real in your face, raucous power. Next up was one of my all time favourite stage presences in Christine Manetta with an all-to-short set which included The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” … *swoon*!! Thanks so much for that Christine!! Finally was the newcomer to the EBC in Nicole Nehemia, a real bundle of personality, style and talent – totally infectious and utterly engaging. So, what an end to the year – three beautiful ladies hammering out great blues supported by the incredible talent of the EBC allstars and the likes of Jesse Valach, Rod Paine and sooo many more amazing musicians. All I can say is “roll on 2014!” Have an amazing Christmas and New Year everyone and thanks!

Mont San Michel, Normandy, France

Located on the Normandy coast, a train ride from Paris, is the incredible spectacle of Mont San MIchel. The world heritage listed site is one of France’s most prominent landmarks. The island commune was the only French site to withstand English occupation during the 100 years war in the 1400s. It has been built in stages over many centuries, the initial inspiration (according to legend) was when the archangel Gabriel appeared to St Aubert in 708.

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The Mont is surrounded by water on regular occasion, due to the tides, when the causeway floods. There are days almost monthly when it is not accessible by foot.

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Today, the Mont is an incredible site, night and day, inside and out. Inside is quite a vibrant, self sustained city with a labyrinth of streets and alleys. The shops are now mainly devoted to tourism.

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The entire structure is dominated by the huge abbey which reaches to the sky. The architecture inside is large in scale to support the huge spire and ornate and very attractive. Room after room is full of large supporting structures, ordered and regular and very becoming.

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For me, Mont San MIchel is at its very best at night, viewed from the far side of the causeway, lit up in all its splendour. We were staying the small town of Ponterson about 10Km away at a simply delightful little B&B called Les Belles de Mai run by the even more delightful Beatrice. I dearly wanted to photograph the Mont after dark and asked Beatrice where we could hire a car or catch a taxi (the buses stopped running at the end of September, 2 days before). She wouldn’t hear of it and insisted on driving out to pick us up after I finished. When we left the next day, we got our first french kiss… what a wonderful person!

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I would dearly love to spend an extended time in area specifically to photograph Mont San Michel and its surrounds through all the differing seasons and lights. Of course, I would need to say with the charming Beatrice and enjoy just that little bit more of her company (and that of her three cats, Betsy, Timmy and Opium (apparently he rarely wakes up))

Happy Birthday Elwood Blues Club!

Sunday night was Elwood Blues Club’s first birthday at their current venue, the Greyhound Hotel. What a fantastic way to celebrate with the in your face Chigaco Blues of Greg Dodd and Dan Dinnen. Couple this with exceptional sets by jammers (particularly Christine Manetta singing The Doors) and you have an electric evening.

Every Sunday night from 5.30 people… get on it.. it’s exceptional!!