My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘H’

Heading towards halfway in the alphabet challenge, and there is still much to spot and spy. This is what I’ve tracked down beginning with the letter H.

Henry Lawson, Grenfell

Henry Lawson, Grenfell, NSW

Henry Lawson

I came across this rather whimsical statue of Henry Lawson in the main street of Grenfell. Lawson remains one of Australia’s best-loved poets and writers, and there are several towns throughout the central west of NSW that claim a connection with him. These include Gulgong (the association with Lawson was memorialised on a previous $10 note) and Grenfell. Both of these towns hold annual festivals with literary awards in his honour. There is a Henry Lawson Walk at Mount Victoria, and his trek from Hungerford to Bourke in the west of the state was legendary. Lawson had his personal demons but his work is still read and referenced. ‘The Drover’s Wife‘ remains a favourite of mine, and his poetry contains much humour and pathos. ‘The Loaded Dog‘ is also a great yarn.

Bird Houses at Lithgow

Bird House, Main Street, Lithgow

Houses

It is true that these are bird houses, but they are such a bright collection that I couldn’t resist. This artistic installation is one of many popping up in the streets and laneways in Lithgow. You can see the actual installation here. I love the details, no two are the same.

Heron Island

Heron Island

Heron Island

Earlier this year I had a couple of days on Heron Island with one of my oldest and dearest friends. I had no idea where it was, geographically speaking, and discovered it was on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is compact, about 40 acres in total, and has a research station and resort where the amazing bird life and ocean life can be experienced up close. This photo was taken from a sunset cruise trip – very mellow. An incredible place.

Hargraves Lookout, Blackheath

Hargraves Lookout

Hargraves Lookout, Blackheath

This lookout, past the tiny town of Shipley, offers an expansive view of the Megalong Valley. There are some more panoramic shots here. If you follow the cliffs back around from Katoomba towards Blackheath, the smudge of white on the horizon is one of my favourite ‘H‘ spots – the Hydro Majestic Hotel.

Have you spotted any interesting things beginning with ‘H’ this week?

You can catch up on previous alphabet posts here: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Next? I. Pop over and see what Autumn has spotted here.

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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.

Mini Mountain Moments

Some observations from my recent wanderings.

  • Spotting a unicycle in the back of a ute.
  • Stray beanies left on the steps of a shopfront. A sign that spring is on its way?
  • Smiles. Lots of smiles.
  • Standing quietly and feeling a tangle of languages and moments and experiences wrap around me. ‘When I was in Spain …’ ‘Have you seen …?’
  • The click-clack of luggage being hauled along by tourists across the paved footpaths.
  • Hissing buses taking tourists around the sites, their faces smudged against the glass.
  • Backpackers carrying what seems like their own body weight on their back, foreheads covered with bright scarves.
  • Phones and cameras wielded with enthusiasm at the many look outs and beauty spots, as well as along the main streets in the villages.
  • Long term locals identifiable by their easy walking gait up the steep stretches of Katoomba Street.
  • The elasticity of time. People completely relaxed, with all the available time in the foreseeable future, or in a rush, trying to jam as many experiences as possible into a tight timeframe as if on a manic kind of quest.
  • Changeable weather. The high clouds sometimes dart across the sun providing shade before moving on and a blinding light follows.
  • A feeling of acceptance that is difficult to define. An attitude that whoever you are, that’s okay.
  • Sighting a recorder (the musical woodwind instrument, that is) lying in a display of bright spring blooms. I thought later that I should have taken a photo for #MyISpy but when I went past the next day it was gone as someone else must have spotted the musical potential.
  • An assortment of tantalising aromas from the wide range of restaurants and cafes.
  • Murals tucked into the many alleyways, just waiting to be discovered.

What have you spotted, heard, smelt or felt in your neighbourhood lately?

[Photo: Butterfly Walk, Katoomba]

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘E’

It is with much excitement and enthusiasm that I present my favourite ‘E’ spies from the week that was. Enjoy!

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Emus in the Hartley Valley

Emus

I have passed these birds for over 3 years as I have wound my way through the Hartley Valley. They are usually in the distance, but are used to drawing attention and often loiter near the fenceline in hope of a treat. Knowing that E was coming up, I paid closer than usual interest to their location and pulled over on the way to work recently to take a photo. They weren’t fussed at all. I took several shots inbetween laughing when one of them yawned, and was surprised by the low throbbing noise that they made. A quick Google search confirmed it was normal. Their brown eyes were huge – you can catch a glimpse on the emu at the front. I was pleased to finally make their acquaintance.

Elephants spotted at Vinnies

Elephants

Elephants

Sticking with the animal theme, I spotted these two elephants at a Vinnie’s store, waiting for someone to take them home. I like elephants and have a couple of garden ornaments but I thought there might be someone out there who needed them more than I did.

Evans Lookout

Evans Lookout

Evans Lookout, Blackheath

There is a turnoff on the edge of Blackheath before the road bends its way towards Medlow Bath. The sign is for the Evans Lookout, and despite passing it many times, I hadn’t gone to have a look. I had been to Govetts Leap, which is off the main road at Blackheath, but I hadn’t taken the four kilometre drive out. Thank goodness for I Spy, is all I can say. It was just before dusk and I thought I’d have a quick look. The sheer scope and magnitude of the view honestly took my breath away. As the light faded there were two raucous cockatoos (is there any other kind?) who screeched and wheeled their way into the canyon, quickly becoming mere dots of white against the backdrop. The lookout is named after a local solicitor and landholder, George Evans, and is well worth a stop. It has been my favourite spy so far.

Onwards now with spying F items. You can see previous I Spy outings here: A B C & D. Special mention to Autumn’s D posting featuring donkeys and Pip Lincolne who started me off on this tangent.

My I Spy: Something beginning with ‘D’

In the past week I have been nearly spoilt for choice as I have kept an eye out for ‘D’ objects on my travels. A drive through the Megalong Valley on Saturday including spotting daffodils (they are just coming out and are beautiful) as well as donkeys resting in a paddock. Unfortunately the donkeys had scarpered by the time I had a chance to return to photograph them. So here is what I have spotted instead.

Dogs and doorknockers @ Katoomba

Dogs and Door-knockers

Dogs and Door-knockers

How could I resist? Two for one! Spotted this window at Katoomba featuring some impressive door-knockers, including two kookaburras on the far right, as well as cast iron dogs.

The Drummer

The Drummer

Drummer

This fine figurine was given to me by my brother who has a knack for quirky presents which become treasures. The air of concentration combined with the attention to detail make me smile whenever I spot him. March to your own beat.

Doorways at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta

Doorways at Elizabeth Farm

Doorways at Elizabeth Farm

One of my enduring obsessions when I’m looking to take a photo in a house is to frame a room with a doorway. Elizabeth Farm at Parramatta is the oldest colonial house in Sydney and is one of the most welcoming house museums I have been in. The furniture is modelled on the style of the relevant periods but it is replica – you are encouraged to sit, touch and relax in the surroundings. The shape of the house with its separate kitchen, servants quarters and courtyard provided many opportunities for photos of doorways. This is from the dining room looking through the entrance and into the drawing-room, the final door looking out onto the garden. A delight.

Diorama at Hydro Majestic Pavilion

Diorama at Hydro Majestic Pavilion

Diorama at Hydro Majestic Pavilion

This diorama contains a model version of the Hydro Majestic, reinforcing the sheer scope of the motel as it clings onto a kilometre of escarpment. It is located on the remnants of the old stage, and behind it are doors and screens from earlier periods.

With thanks again to Pip Lincolne for prompting me to play with her post, and my eagle-eyed blogger on this search, Autumn. And now I’m looking out for ‘E’.

Spying: A  B  C

Creativity On Hold

Lately I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, and it’s been bothering me. There have been external factors which have pushed their way into the time I usually have to daydream and scribble and think up new stories or ideas. There are times when I need to be a responsible adult, which is fine, but there is a feeling of restlessness and irritation at this incursion. As if I’m existing rather than living.

So what to do? I’m sure that normal transmission will resume sometime soon, but there will be other times where what makes me feel most alive – the daydreaming, creative side of me – will be jostled aside. I don’t want to feel like I’m going through the motions so I need to have a strategy for when this creative time is only available in small sips, rather than big gulps.

Here are some thoughts I’ve had on how to make the most of the available time.

Snatch Time. The little bursts of minutes when you’re waiting for someone or something, leave the mobile alone for a moment and look around. Take in what is going on, or spot something that you wouldn’t normally see and look, really look. There might be the trigger for a character or short story idea, or you might overhear the perfect phrasing for some dialogue.

Be Spontaneous. More challenging for a methodical mind such as mine. One of my highlights in the past week involved just stopping my usual point A to point B routine to take a photo for the #MyISpy game that I have been writing blog posts about. It was less than a handful of minutes in my day but there was the exhilaration of doing something out of the ordinary, and it still makes me smile days later.

Turn Up. I’ve been tired and grumpy and yawny and generally not in the mood to do anything creative at my usual time. But I know that if I get up and write the morning pages I can shoehorn at least a bit of creativity into my day, even if it is a jumble of thoughts that I can unwind at a later date when I have a bit more time.

Accept Limitations. Things happen. Great plans become unstuck. Guilting myself won’t help but understanding that I have to focus my attention elsewhere for a while makes it easier to endure, and I know that if I jot down bits and pieces when I can, there will be something that I can work with when my time is more my own.

What do you do when life gets in the way of your creative output?

[Photo: old postal and telephone switchboard equipment at the Wyalong Museum]