My I Spy: something beginning with ‘Z’

All good things must come to an end, including this alphabetical quest. What a delight it has been to pay more attention to what is happening around me as I cast about for things to use in the I Spy game. This is what I have spotted beginning with Z.

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Zebra crossing at Katoomba

Zebra Crossing

Usually known as pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings help to get us safely from one side of the road to the other. Zebra crossings have been in use for over 60 years, and were nicknamed due to the original black and white design. This crossing was spotted in Katoomba.

Zig Zag Railway, Clarence

Zig Zag Railway, Clarence

Zig Zag Railway

This popular tourist attraction was opened in 1975, offering a range of popular train trips. Unfortunately it was devastated in the bushfires of 2013 when damage was incurred to major infrastructure and rolling stock. According to the website, it is hoped that passenger services will resume early this year. The Zig Zag runs along a line that was built in the 1860s to move people and produce from the western plains to Sydney. It is located at Clarence, which is about 10 kilometres east of Lithgow, and is run by volunteers. This photo was taken near the entrance of the station at Clarence, known as Zig Zag Station. There are lots of videos of the railway in better days, and there is a link to a short one here.

Zealous cockatoo snacking on figs

Zealous cockatoo snacking on figs

Zeal

I couldn’t resist this photo of a cockatoo, snacking on the fig tree in my yard with zeal. They are such raucous eaters, nibbling fruit and stripping leaves and branches as they go.

Zodiac scarf

Zodiac scarf

Zodiac Scarf

The origins of this scarf escape me, but I know it has accompanied me through several moves and I always find a use for it, wherever I am.

Zig Zag Brewery

Zig Zag Brewery

Zig Zag Brewery

A final Z reference as I spotted this bottle at a local cafe. A link to the Zig Zag Brewery in Lithgow is here.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has read these posts. It has been a been a joy to find a wide range of objects to include in this quest, and I have had quite the adventure as I have zipped off to track down elusive thoughts and ideas. The comments, suggestions and shared reminiscing in some cases has been a highlight. It has certainly been rewarding to spy with my little eye.

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My I Spy: something beginning with ‘X’

X is a useful letter. It can be used to denote a person or thing or place – Mr X, X marks the spot. It is also depicts 10 when used as a Roman numeral.

Of all the letters in this alphabetical quest, X has definitely been the most challenging. I perused the dictionary and thought about the likelihood of a chance encounter with a xylophone or a xerophyte. Not terribly high in the circles in which I move. So I decided to approach it from a less literal angle. By widening the lens, I could spot X’s in all sorts of places. This is what I found.

Exposed tree roots

Exposed tree roots

X Shape in a Tree

This tree was spotted at Nambucca Heads on the mid north coast. The lower roots are aerial and some form the shape of an X.

Axe

Axe

Axe

Would an axe be an axe without an X? I think not. I have used axes occasionally for chopping firewood, but that’s about the sum of it. To see a professional woodchopper in action is a treat. Axe handles are sometimes used as a rough unit of measurement for width.

Clock

Clock

X Time

One of my earliest watches had Roman numerals which helped to reinforce X in the context of time. This clock was spied in a cafe and gift shop.

Relax cushion

Relax cushion

Relax

This cushion summed up my approach to X. After all the eagle-eyed spotting, it was refreshing to take a different viewpoint and, well, relax. One of my favourite words and aspirational pastimes.

Have you spied anything starting – or featuring – an X lately?

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘V’

Verily it seems as though this alphabetical quest is slipping along at speed now as the tail end veers into view. There was a variety of objects vying for my attention, and this is what I have spied.

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Vases

Vases

This is a sample of my vase collection. In recent years I have taken a fancy to coloured glass and have been accumulating bottles and vases such as these – lovely with flowers from the garden or with the sunlight shining through as they are clustered on my kitchen windowsill.

Victorian Bow Wagon, West Wyalong

Victorian Bow Wagon, West Wyalong

Victorian Bow Wagon

This was spied at the extensive museum at West Wyalong. Wagons such as these carried untold tonnes of wool and grain across the Australian landscape in the 1800s and early 1900s. The sheer size of the wagon can be appreciated up close, or in paintings such as Across the Black Soil Plains by G W Lambert. There is additional history about this painting here. One of my ancestors owned a wool wagon which is part of the collection at the Western Plains Cultural Centre – there is a link to the wagon and its history here.

Lithgow viaducts

Viaducts at Lithgow

Viaduct

These railway viaducts are near Farmers Creek at Lithgow. The original viaduct was a single track which was part of the Great Western Railway, forming a vital part of the extension of the railway from Lithgow to Bathurst and out to the central west of NSW.  It dates from 1870 and is one of the oldest stone arch railway viaducts in the state. The original plan was for iron girder bridges but economic constraints intervened and the stone arch was erected instead. As the demand on the railway line increased, a second track was required. The second viaduct was built in 1921.

Verandah at Elizabeth Farm

Verandah at Elizabeth Farm

Verandah

A wide verandah is an essential part of Australian homesteads to take advantage of cool breezes and provide shade during long, hot summers. This verandah is part of Elizabeth Farm, one of the oldest houses in Australia.

Violets

Violets

Violets

This late entry has been sitting on my kitchen window sill for a couple of years now. There was a spurt of leafy growth over the past month or so and now there are a couple of purple blooms to make me smile whenever I spot them.

Have you spied anything vibrant beginning with V lately?

Check out what Autumn has spied here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘U’

Until this point of time, it is fair to say, I haven’t given much thought to things beginning with U. Obvious suspects include umbrellas, unicorns and unicycles. They were selling unicycles for Christmas at Aldi recently, but that seemed too easy. This is what I’ve spied instead.

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Underground transport, Lithgow State Mine Heritage Park

Underground Mine Carriers

This was spotted at the Lithgow State Mine Heritage Park, which I visited earlier this year. This living museum offers insights into what the working life of miners is like, as well as working conditions for miners a century and more ago. These underground mine carriers were used locally and further afield. They are on display in the old bath house on the site.

Unadorned Christmas Tree

Unadorned Christmas Tree

Unadorned

This large tree was spotted in front of a church, apparently unadorned.  Closer inspection revealed discrete lights to illuminate it at night, but during the day it seemed striking in its simple state.

Unusual trinket

Unusual trinket

Unusual

Spied this funny little tourist trinket at an op shop – I love the purple tuft of hair. It makes me smile.

Unusual parrot

Unusual parrot

And whilst I’m on the subject, this garden ornament was also worth including.

Fish near Heron Island

Fish near Heron Island

Underwater

I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days on Heron Island at the start of the year. This photo was taken whilst on a short trip on a submersible boat. It is hard to express the childlike delight that overwhelmed me as we chugged along with a tinted view of the coral reef. These fish were just as curious to see what we were up to, and it was incredible to watch the manta rays, turtles, and schools of brilliantly coloured fish sweep by as they navigated their way through the reef.

The best word I’ve read this week starting with U is uxorious, which means being excessively or foolishly fond of one’s wife, overly doting.

Have you spotted anything unusual beginning with U this week? Check out what Autumn has spied here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘T’

The letter T brings to mind tea for two, tricycles and teddy bears. There are T’s everywhere, it would seem. Here are a few that I’ve spotted in my travels.

Three Sisters, Echo Point

Three Sisters, Echo Point

Three Sisters, Echo Point

This sandstone formation is instantly recognisable to many people and is a major tourist drawcard in the Blue Mountains. From the early days of photography, a popular gimmick was to take photos of three sisters in front of the Three Sisters. There is an image of an early photograph by Ernest Brougham Docker here. The formations are “sheer yet crumbling, they rise a thousand feet above the forest floor. The Jamison Valley in which they are situated is fed by scores of waterfalls and cascades. The view alternates between the damp luxuriance of rainforest and the stark yellow of weathered cliff” (Martin Thomas, The Artificial Horizon: Imagining the Blue Mountains).

There was a legend that the three sisters were members of the Katoomba tribe, living in the Jamison Valley. They fell in love with three men in the neighbouring tribe at Nepean, but their marriage was forbidden by tribal law. A battle between the tribes followed and an elder turned the sisters to stone to protect them. Unfortunately, the elder was killed in the battle and no one could turn the sisters back. The legend has been subsequently revealed as an attempt to make a local landmark more interesting, although the traditional Aboriginal owners, the Gundungurra, have a legend that includes the rock formation.

Tiles, Globe Hotel, West Wyalong

Tiles, Globe Hotel, West Wyalong

Tiles

Travelling through country towns, it is common to come across tiled shopfronts, especially  on old pubs. Pubs seem to survive above all else in some places. These tiles were spotted on the old Globe Hotel at West Wyalong, a gold mining town in the central west of NSW. The original pub was built in 1894 but was rebuilt in 1908 after being destroyed by fire. The tiles below were on one of the many lovely old shopfronts along the main street in Temora.

Tiles, Temora

Tiles, Temora


Tulips at Eden Park

Tulips at Eden Park

Tulips

This lovely display was spotted in front of a large garden centre in Macquarie Park, north west suburb of Sydney. Floriade in Canberra is an annual celebration of tulips with over a million blooms carefully planted in creative displays since 1988. There is a link to the photo gallery here.

Tools at Mt Victoria Museum

Tools at Mt Victoria Museum

Tools

There is something about tools lined up neatly on a board. This collection is at the Mount Victoria Museum.

Typewriter at Mt Victoria Museum

Typewriter at Mt Victoria Museum

Typewriter

I couldn’t resist this old Remington typewriter, also spotted at the Mount Victoria Museum. My fondness for typewriters and keyboards in general was revealed earlier in this quest, and just looking at it reminds me of how clumsy keystrokes or too much enthusiasm could result in the keys mashing together in a tangled mess.

Have you spotted anything tricky beginning with T lately?

Keep an eye on Autumn’s insightful spying here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

And now I’m off to uncover something beginning with U.

 

 

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘S’

It seems like the alphabet is slipping along now as the tail end sneaks into view. With so many things beginning with S to choose from, the hardest part was deciding what to share. Here is what I spied.

Shadows, Elizabeth Farm

Shadows, Elizabeth Farm

Shadows

The play of light and dark is of interest to me, and this photo was taken on a late winter afternoon at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta. The shadows are cast in part by the gnarled branches of a large frangipani tree, along with jacaranda branches waiting for the layers of leaves and blooms to bud.

Scorched, Hargraves Lookout

Scorched, Hargraves Lookout

Scorched

This burnt landscape is on the way to Hargraves Lookout, near Blackheath. The threat of bushfire is a constant part of mountain life. Vegetation control and back burning is used to minimise risk, but the reality is that bushfire is unpredictable, voracious and frightening. In recent travels to the northern beaches of Sydney and the mid north coast of the state, there were acres of scorched vegetation stretching into the distance. A sombre reminder of the danger of fire.

Snail

Snail at Blue Mountains Organic Co, Lithgow

Snail

I would not normally seek out snails for photographic purposes, but this giant snail, perched on the edge of a shelf, was too good to resist. It resides at the Blue Mountains Organic Co, a cafe in  Lithgow. I do have a close-up photo but it is mildly repellent so I’ll leave it for now.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

This blue sheep is one of many garden ornaments in my Mum’s garden. They peek out from garden beds, lurk in the midst of flower arrangements and are suspended, in some instances, from trees. Gnomes are a popular choice, and the old cement gnomes of my childhood have had various coats of paint over the years. The sheep stands out for me, not only because of the vibrant hue, but it calls to mind an image in a story by fellow blogger and Writer in the Mist, Therese. You can find Therese’s blog here.

Shark Tank, water reservoir, Katoomba

Sharks on Tank, Katoomba

Sharks

Murals are increasingly popular and prevalent in the mountains. There is a side road in Katoomba which has recently been turned into a one-way street to make it safer for the foot traffic checking out the artistry on the walls. This underwater scene featuring toothy sharks is on a water reservoir on Narrow Neck Road.

Have you spotted anything spectacular starting with ‘S’ lately?

Keep an eye on Autumn’s insightful spying here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram – I loved her Jenny Kee photo. Recent highlights from Autumn include quacks and quaquaversal as well as reflections on the letter R. Next, it’s time for T.

[Photo: snowman spotted at Medlow Bath last winter]

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘R’

It feels like the end of this alphabetical quest is approaching, although there is still quite a bit of spying to be done. After the challenge of Q, spying for R felt like being spoilt for choice. This is what I came across.

Records

Records

Records

When I was growing up the record player was usually kept in a small, glassed-in room at the front of the house. It was a treat to be let loose and to be able to play from a selection of records, albums and singles such as these. There was an art to song selection, the careful alignment of needle and track. Rough handling led to scratches, the song lurching forward or being stuck in a groove. This stash of singles was spotted at an op shop. By chance, Racey was at the front with ‘Some Girls‘.

Radio

Radio

Radio

Not a huge leap, really, from records to radio. I like to have music on, especially when cooking or cleaning up. This radio picks up my local station and due to a mix of programs there is an element of surprise as to whether it will be a local program or something on a broader community network. I love the quirkiness of some of the shows, and the ease with which you can keep in touch with local news and events. It helps me to feel connected.

Rosella

Rosella

Rosella

On a dull day the magenta flash of rosella wings provide a jolt of colour, irresistibly drawing the eye. There are variants of the rosella across Australia with deviations in plumage and shape. The birds were originally named after the locality of Rose Hill (near Parramatta). But rosella is also the name given to a native shrub or small tree which bears fruit. It is used in jams which may create a degree of confusion if you (like me) mentally associate the word with a beautiful bird. The fruit can also be used in tea, syrup or cordial.

Red hat at Leura

Red hat at Leura

Red Hat

I spotted this beautiful felt hat many moons ago when I spent a weekend in the mountains to see if it could be somewhere that I could call home. It was in one of the boutique shops in Leura Mall, a popular stroll for tourists. I love the shape of it.

Rhino at Cowra

Rhino at Japanese Gardens, Cowra

Rhino

This brightly painted chap was visiting the Japanese gardens at Cowra when I spied him. Rather than looking incongruous he seemed to fit right in with the spring blossoms.

Have you spotted anything riveting beginning with R lately? Keep an eye on Autumn‘s excellent spying here, and atman.art.studio is posting alphabet inspired posts on Instagram. Now I’m off to spy something beginning with S.

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘Q’

I was sure that Q items would be querulous and quarrelsome, but they weren’t as bad as I thought. This is what I have spotted beginning with Q.

Queen Victoria Sanitorium, Wentworth Falls

Queen Victoria Sanitorium, Wentworth Falls

Queen Victoria Sanitorium, Wentworth Falls

Not one of my better photos, this is just a glimpse of one of the outbuildings in this once large hospital. It was one of many private establishments set up to cater for people with various diseases, including tuberculosis. It is hard to imagine the devastation wreaked by this disease, and various cures advocated extensive stays in hospitals such as this one. It is located several kilometres from the village on Tableland Road and is one of a number of sanatoriums established in the later Victorian period and early twentieth century. The centre of the complex was a country retreat, but later additions included small ‘open air’ chalets for consumptive patients. It was a nursing home in more recent decades but has been closed and in a state of disrepair for quite some time. Someone else drawn to old grandeur was able to take photos – have a look at the extensive blog post by Photomofo here.

Qwerty keyboards

Qwerty keyboards

Qwerty Keyboards

It was inevitable that I would learn to type. My Mum had a typewriter which I loved to tinker with and over time I have owned and used many typewriters, word processors, electronic typewriters, computers and keyboards. I did a year-long course in office administration many moons ago and can touch type at speed. I’m particular about keyboards that I use for ‘work’, be it paid or fictional. It has to feel right, especially for longer stretches of time. These are my current tools of trade.

cropped-img_0977.jpgQuiet Times

I had to laugh when I came across this neat arrangement of mugs in a local cafe. Time certainly slips by quicker when you’re busy.

Quilt

Quilt

Quilts

Handmade quilts represent a labour of love. So many hours of careful cutting, stitching, the selection of fabric and patterns. One of my most treasured possessions is a patchwork quilt made by my Mum from scraps of fabric from clothes that she made over the years. The mish-mash of squares and colours have softened and faded with extensive use but when the bushfires escalated and devastated parts of the Blue Mountains in 2013, it was one of a handful of things that I packed, just in case.  This quilt belongs to a friend of mine and is beautifully made.

Have you spotted anything quaint starting with Q recently?

Next I’m off to track down rare and regular things beginning with R. Keep an eye on Autumn‘s insightful spying here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.

 

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘P’

Plenty of possibilities for things beginning with ‘P’ have presented themselves. Parrots, people, plumes of clouds, pets, just to name a few. Here are a few things I managed to photograph.

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Paragon Cafe, West Wyalong

Paragon Cafes

The Paragon Cafe in Katoomba celebrated 100 years this year. But it is not the only Paragon Cafe around by a long shot. These cafes, typically started by Greek migrants, were dotted all across the cities and small towns of Australia. When travelling through the central west of the state, I managed to spot these two. The first, in West Wyalong, is still trading as a cafe. The second is a shopfront in the town of Harden in the south west of NSW. Lately there have been some interesting podcasts and books about this cafe culture.

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Paragon Cafe, Harden

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Phrenology Head, North Rocks Markets

Phrenology

The ‘study of external conformation of cranium as index to development and position of organs belonging to the various mental facilities’, as defined by the 1911 Concise Oxford Dictionary, no longer holds the sway that it once did. It is now a rather discounted theory of how one’s mental powers are influenced and indicated by the shape of the skull. My earliest recollection of this theory was when I stumbled across it in one of the Bony books. Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte was the literary invention of English born writer Arthur W Upfield. Upfield worked and travelled extensively across Australia, and he wrote a series of books based around Bony solving mysteries in various locations. Many of the books were set in the outback and Bony brought insights from his mixed heritage into solving crimes. Titles included ‘Death of a Swagman’ and ‘The Bone is Pointed’.

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Possum the Locomotive at Eskbank House, Lithgow

Possum the Locomotive

Possum now resides in the grounds of Eskbank House at Lithgow. It was one of several engines that worked the train line between the Blast Furnace and the steelworks. Possum arrived in 1919 and worked the line until 1928; it was relocated to Port Kembla when the steelworks closed in Lithgow. It worked through until 1967 when it was retired and relocated back to Eskbank House, which was then a relatively new museum. The little engines that worked the line between the furnace and steelworks all had animal names including Wallaby, Wombat and Bunyip.

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Sunset over the Kanimbla Valley

Pink

I love a good sunset. Sunrises are good too, but I like the fading of light at the end of the day. This sunset was spotted over the Kanimbla valley.

What possibilities have you spotted beginning with P? Pop over and see what Autumn is spotting here, along with photos on Instagram by atman.art.studio. Next week, I’m questing for things beginning with Q …

 

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘O’

Onwards I go, spying my way through the alphabet. I am now officially in the second half of the search and my mind remains on the lookout for objects both curious and mundane. This is what I’ve spotted beginning with O.

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Owls

Owls

A few years back there seemed to be an obsession with owl objects. I’m not sure why, it was just one of those moments when all of a sudden they seemed to be everywhere. I wasn’t immune to this trend, and one of my favourite nick-nacks is a small owl covered in mosaic tiles that I spotted in Scotland.  The three owls pictured above were part of a birthday gift, and they are firmly ensconced in my study where they keep a watchful eye, mostly, on what I get up to. The fact that they are green only makes them more delightful to me.

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Oxley Cottage at Camden

Oxley

John Oxley was a surveyor and explorer in early colonial Australia. This image of him is located on a small cottage near Camden, and Oxley received a large land grant in this area. One of his many roles was as Surveyor General of New South Wales and he is famous for his inland expeditions, which included the discovery of Tweed River and exploration of the Macquarie River and marshes. This cottage, known as John Oxley Cottage, is a workman’s cottage built on land that was part of the original land grant to Oxley. It is now used as a visitor information centre.

Ostrich

Ostrich at Mudgee

Ostrich

This ostrich was spotted at a beautifully appointed bed and breakfast in Mudgee. It was one of an assortment of animals, including a donkey and several turkeys. The gardens were lovely, rambling affairs with several sections including a large vegetable and herb garden. A joy to explore with a little creek at the back of the property.

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Oil Burner

Oil Burner

One of my rituals is to light this little oil burner before I write my morning pages. It usually has a few drops of bush oil, containing eucalyptus and myrtle amongst other scents. It has been a trusty companion as I have written hundreds of thousands of words.

Pop over and have a look at what Autumn has spied beginning with O, as well as keeping a sharp owl-like eye on atman.art.studio on Instagram.

Have you spotted any objects beginning with O lately?