Autumnal Thoughts

Autumn is a particularly beautiful time in the Blue Mountains with many trees putting on a spectacular show of colours.

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Excerpt from the poem Autumn by Kate Llewellyn:

… but autumn prefers me,

wistful,

longing for what has gone

dreading the cold to come.

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Soon the leaves will fall and the colourful carpets will crunch underfoot.

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What is autumn like in your part of the world?

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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 ‘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 ‘G’

Good grief! It feels like I’m powering through the alphabet. When I started out, knowing that it would take six months to wind my way through the alphabet, it seemed that it would take an age to make any headway. But here I am, galloping after things that begin with G. This is what I’ve spied lately.

Galah cushion

Galah cushion

Galahs

I love galahs. I love their flash of colours, the way they tend to hang around in flocks, or in pairs as a minimum. They can be spotted in most areas of Australia but for me they evoke wide open spaces where you can see them en masse. There was a lovely photo of a galah recently on Offerings from the Wellspring and you can see it here. The above photo is of a beautiful cushion which was a birthday gift from my sister.

Old Government House, Parramatta

Old Government House, Parramatta

Government House, Parramatta

Originally built in 1799 for Government Hunter as a two-storey house, the building was expanded over the following decades and remained as the official residence until Government House was built in Sydney in 1845. Its location as the country residence for the first 10 governors of New South Wales provided a welcome retreat from life in Sydney Town in the early decades of the colony. It also reinforced the importance of Parramatta’s location from an agricultural perspective. The property remains surrounded by extensive parklands and is a popular destination for locals and those from further afield.

Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa)

These plants have become increasingly popular, particularly in public plantings. I first became aware of them at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo, where they were planted in a magnificent procession along the entrance walkway. Prior to blooming, they look rather awkward but when in flower they are magnificent. You can see some brighter images here. I spotted these along the foreshore at Meadowbank wharf, where they stood out even on a dull day.

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Green moss on rocks, Meadowbank

Green rocks

Okay, so perhaps this is being a bit creative with G, but green is my favourite colour and I couldn’t help but take a photo of these green, moss-covered rocks along the Parramatta River at Meadowbank. There were oodles of them as the tide was low, and I found it calming just to look at them. If I’m agitated, I can find peace in looking out at green leaves on trees. I know, small things.

Have you seen anything great starting with G this week?

With thanks to Pip Lincolne for the initial prompt, and Autumn for spying in another hemisphere. You can see early spies here: A, B, C, D, E and F and follow other alphabet spies on Instagram at #MyISpy.

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘F’

I am sitting here, wearing a forest-green top, my mind a flurry of fuzzy thoughts on recent sightings of ‘F’ related items. Without further ado, here I go.

Fish plate

Fish plate

Fish

This might seem an obvious place to start but it takes me on a bit of a tangent. The fish above is a ceramic plate that my Mum recently spotted for me and its bright colours drew my eye. I have been thinking of fish a bit lately as there is a lovely painting of Japanese fish in one of my favourite cafes in Katoomba. When I call in to order a morning coffee, I spend a happy minute or two just staring at this painting with its bright flashes of colour and movement. The fish draw the eye, but I also find some sort of meditative calm in staring at the bubbles stirred up by their swirling movements. I find it mesmerising and, like the Peace Monument in Katoomba, one of those moments when I can focus on what is in front of me in a pleasant, mindful trance.

Fireplace at Wyalong Museum

Fireplace at Wyalong Museum

Fireplace

Cool mountain winters mean that most places up here have fireplaces or sturdy heating systems to get through the cold nights which can happen at any time of year. This fireplace was spotted further afield, in the excellent museum at Wyalong. Wyalong is in the wheat belt of NSW, and there were significant gold finds at the end of the 19th century. Larger deposits were found a few kilometres away at West Wyalong, and this is where the main town now is. But it was at Wyalong that the original administrative heart of the town was located, and the museum is in the old court house. The fireplace is ornate, as befits the status of its location, and I like the accompanying instructions on the art of the coal fire.

Froggy friends

Froggy friends

Frog

Couldn’t resist this duo of garden frogs. The large frog is looking particularly dapper in his shirt and tie, although his pose remains relaxed.

Firetruck

Firetruck

Firetruck

The quality of life in the mountains would not be possible without the continued care and dedication of the many rural fire brigade volunteers who keep us safe not only during bushfire season but all through the year by minimising danger wherever they can.

Next I’m off to hunt for good things beginning with G. Thanks again to Pip Lincolne for the idea prompt, and you can spot earlier posts here: A, B, C, D and E. Keep an eye out, too, for what fellow spy Autumn is up to, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the wonderfully artistic Michelle Genders will be spying on Instagram from the end of September.

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘C’

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am being lulled into a false sense of security with the early letters in the alphabet. There has been some headscratching over E, and I haven’t thought much about F either, hoping instead that something will come across my path over the next few weeks. But for now, some things beginning with C.

China

China

China

My appreciation of fine bone china is influenced by my Mum, who has a beautiful assortment of exquisite cups, saucers, milk jugs and other tea related items. I cannot resist upturning a teacup if the china feels right, and will gravitate towards light, beautifully crafted but worn pieces over a sturdy white modern plate. The samples above are some of my favourites, including the Cup of Knowledge which sits on a saucer outlining the horoscope. A fine cup is worthy of a good brew, and might explain why I enjoyed a recent trip to Bygone Beauties.

Cloud in the Hartley Valley

Cloud in the Hartley Valley

Cloud Formations

One of the many aspects of mountain life that delights me is cloud formation. Seriously. I am not clever enough to be able to identity individual clouds as such, but I do know what I like. Coming down into the valley through light cloud cover is a delight, and I had to pull over and take a photo of the low cloud, slipping across the top of the trees. I know I’m relaxed when I find myself looking upwards, daydreaming upon cloud formations.

It also makes me think of The Service of Clouds by Delia Falconer, a wonderful novel set in the Blue Mountains. There is a review of the book in the New York Times here. Falconer’s book on Sydney as part of a series on Australian cities is also excellent. There is a review by another great writer, Drusilla Modjeska, in The Monthly here.

Katoomba Court House

Court House, Katoomba

Court House, Katoomba

The growth of Katoomba and the surrounding areas in the 1880s resulted in a deputation of Alderman heading to Sydney to request a courthouse in the town. Located on the northern side of the railway tracks, the court house was constructed in the late 1890s in the Federation Romanesque style and opened in 1897. It remains an imposing presence over a century later.

I am looking forward to seeing what delights my fellow alphabeteer Autumn comes up with for ‘C’, and am off to hunt down something beginning with ‘D’.

Blogs I Enjoy

In last week’s post, I wrote about the reasons why I blog. Like most people, I read blogs for a long time before ever considering that I would write one. These days I am reading more blogs than before, and for different reasons. It made me think about the blogs that I really enjoy and why.

Newtown Review of Books

There are often really interesting book reviews posted on this blog. I used to cherry pick the books that sounded like they were up my alley, but over time I’ve discovered lots of great books and interesting writers by reading the posts regardless of whether they are in an area or genre I would normally lean towards. The reviews are well written and informative, and I have picked up many useful recommendations from this blog.

The Godfather: Peter Corris

This blog, also hosted through Newtown Review of Books, is by the oft-named Godfather of Australian crime. Corris is a prolific writer and is best known for his series of Cliff Hardy books. Hardy is a Sydney private investigator and the books are engaging with Sydney and its surrounding areas forming a characteristic background. The weekly blog covers a wide range of topics, from music to books to memoir, and is always enjoyable.

Meet Me At Mikes

I mentioned Pip Lincolne’s blog last week as it has started me off on an I spy hunt. Pip is a well-known Australian blogger and craft creator. Her regular posts contain warmth and humour, a ray of sunshine in your inbox.

Quiet Revolution

This is a fairly recent find, and it may have come about after I posted a review of Quiet by Susan Cain. This blog is for introverts, and there are regular postings and articles about how to survive and thrive as an introvert. There was a recent two-post special on creating the creative space as an introvert which I will return to at a later date.

In addition to these blogs, there are an increasing number of blogs that I am following as part of the wider blogging community on WordPress. These include – but are not limited to – the following:

Autumn: for her thought provoking posts on all matter of things, and especially for her Whacky Wednesday posts.

Real life of a MSW: a mix of posts across professional life, home life, cooking and current affairs, this blog often gets me thinking deeper on issues.

La Tour Abolie: lyrical writing across a range of topics, interspersed with humour and warmth. Always a delight.

Barbara Ann Paper Arts: I came across one of Barbara’s beautiful cards online and am so glad I did as her posts are worth lingering over. Whilst not especially crafty myself, I take delight in seeing her creations and getting a glimpse into what is required to create these cards and other creative projects.

Edge of the Bell Curve: a lyrical mixture of poetry and the challenges of real life. As the online magazine Algebra of Owls grows, this blog often provides insight into what goes on behind the scenes of creative publication.

Muddling through my Middle Age: these blog posts cover a range of topics and delve a little deeper on issues such as friendship, blogging and changes over time.

Suzanne Rogerson: this blog offers lots of interesting information about the process of self-publishing as well as fantastic photos. A visual delight.

Every time I open my mouth some idiot starts talking!: the name alone of this blog is irresistible to me, but the content is also well worth the reading time.

What blogs do you love?

[Photo: garden at Everglades, Leura]

Arrival of Autumn

The warmth of summer seemed to linger longer this year, trailing into late April before the sharp freshness of cooler nights and mornings made their presence felt. But now the lower temperatures are here, there seem to be signs of autumn everywhere.

The deciduous trees of the upper mountains in particular have been putting on their annual show, turning an amazing array of reds, oranges and yellows before falling en masse to create gaudy mosaics.

A late Sunday afternoon walk is a sensory delight. There are windfall piles of leaves to crunch through whilst admiring the claret-red of Japanese maple leaves, not quite ready yet to fall. The air is scented by fragrant smoke from chimneys. The last vestige of summer blooms, including roses, vintage hydrangeas, nasturtiums, begonia, daisies and geraniums peep through gardens and front fences. Hedges of camellias provide bursts of colour, soft white petals fall to the ground bringing thoughts of snow. Bird calls sweetly pierce the air.

There is something about the light in autumn, the different slant of the sun, especially in late afternoon. It is particularly golden, imbued with warmth.

As the day fades and the temperature falls, it is tempting to walk faster, to get home quicker where it will be warm. But it is nice to take the time to admire the mountains in the late autumn sunshine.

What is autumn like where you are?

[Photo: autumn leaves]