Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Snorkelling at Shelly beach

August 5, 2011

I bought myself one of those ‘deals’ vouchers for a snorkelling lesson/guided snorkel early in the year. I LOVE snorkelling but just don’t make the effort to go unless we are on vacation, so thought this was a good way to get a snorkel in. (I can highly recommend Pro Dive Manly! ) After lots of procrastination (and some health issues), I finally booked myself in at the beginning of April before the weather got too cold. Sydney water stays warm till July at least but it’s nicer getting out into balmy air than chilly winds.  And I did choose the last warm day for several months!

It was amazing! I loved it. It was just me and the guide in the “group” and we snorkelled for an hour in the marine reserve at Shelley Beach (right in Sydney – at Manly.  How blessed are we Sydney-siders!).  Shelly Beach is apparently unique amongst east coast beaches in actually facing west.  Which makes it sheltered, calm and less windy and you can watch the sun set across the water.

The abundance of fish and sea life blew me away.  I didn’t see any leafy sea dragons (have to go further out to see them.. maybe another trip?)  But apparently one of the bronze whaler sharks that have become common in the bay since the marine reserve was established came within a metre of my face but I missed it.  I was looking the other way!  Which is probably good as I was a tad nervous about the resident sharks even though there haven’t been any incidents and there were SO many people in the water that I would not have been a logical target, even if one of them decided to turn mean.

I learned quite a few snorkelling tips and techniques as well as having one of those deeply pleasurable experiences that is almost spiritual in its intensity.  Who would have thought Sydney is home to such incredible sea life!

The sun was setting over Manly as I lingered on the beach, not wanting to do the hour’s drive back home in rush hour traffic.

Sunset from Shelly beach

Here is Shelly beach in the late afternoon (my lesson was at 4pm).

See the waves beyond the rocks?  That’s where you have the best chance of seeing the leafy sea dragons.  We snorkelled to the left of this photo, following the coast towards Manly staying close to the shore.

And the view looking north towards the Northern beaches:

towards the Northern beaches

Click on photos to get a larger view. You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here at Skywatch Friday.

Jude 2

Skywatch Friday – a cold Mount Wellington

April 15, 2011

We spent 2 weeks in Tasmania in December and loved it. On our last morning in Hobart we drove up Mount Wellington, were amazed that we were almost IN the cloud and that there were bits of snow at the top.  We enjoyed the view (that’s where the Sydney to Hobart yacht race ends, folks) and tried to keep our hands from freezing  before driving up the coast to some beach. It was COLD up top.. probably about 3C at 9am. This is mid summer!

View from Mount Wellington

View from Mount Wellington

and here am I…

Wendy and Hobart from atop Mount Wellington

Wendy and Hobart from atop Mount Wellington

Click on photos to get a larger view.  You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Blueberry Lavender Muffins – Skywatch Friday

January 20, 2011

The last stop of our recent (December)  Tasmanian trip was Barnbougle Golf Course, near Bridport, about an hour north east of Launceston. C tried to pretend that the Tasmanian trip was for the purposes of a blissfully relaxing child-free (MissN was on exchange in China) driving holiday but no-one was fooled.  We all knew that the  purpose of the trip was for him to play golf at Barnbougle, which has been hailed as Australia’s finest golf course and one of the top 100 public-access golf courses in the world. (He also managed to get a game at the very newly opened – like 3 weeks before – adjacent Lost Farm course.  His verdict is that Barnbougle is better and that he would like to visit both again SOON.)  Hobart, Freycinet and Cradle Mountain were added to the itinerary to legitimise the golfing and make it seem as though we went to Tasmania on holiday.  (Love ya, sweetheart! You may play golf any time and place you choose,)

I don’t do golf.  I did walk around MOST of Royal Adelaide with him last April but by the 13th hole I was wilting and bailed (went to find coffee at Semaphore).  So I left him to enjoy the stunning scenery of Lost Farm and the joy of hitting two little white balls into the dunes and I headed off to Bridestowe Lavender Estate which was about half an hour’s drive away (maybe less) through pastoral scenery and the very neat and prosperous looking town of Scottsdale.  Much of Tasmania is wild or empty but this corner (patch?) is very ordered, farmed, green and quite lovely.  Like a more hilly England.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

The entry fee was $7 pp (during flowering season, Dec-Jan, otherwise free) which I thought was expensive, seeing as almost everyone would spend money in either the cafe or the shop or both.  The estate was stunning scenically, the display was informative, the cafe good (I had scones with lavender cheese and lavender tea) and the shop was to die for. I restrained myself into merely buying a lavender deodorant, a bottle of essential oil (yes, it really is essential!) and a tin of culinary lavender.  You know me – if it’s an unusual ingredient, I buy it and find how to cook with it.

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

They had recipe cards!  I picked up a few (lavender brownies and  lavender baby cakes to be tried soon).  A batch of lavender blueberry muffins was my first attempt at cooking with lavender and they were a huge success.  The lavender flavour is very aromatic and goes perfectly with the blueberries (which can be found on special at the moment at about $3 a punnet – usually fresh blueberries are prohibitively expensive here).  It’s a moist (maybe the yoghurt?) muffin and not too sweet.  Just perfect with a cup of Darjeeling.  I will be making them again – soon.

Lavender blueberry muffins

Lavender blueberry muffins

Blueberry Lavender Muffins

(Recipe from Bridestowe Lavender Estate)

2 cups self-raising flour

1 TBS BRIDESTOWE CULINARY LAVENDER

1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup plain yoghurt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 TBS melted butter

I usually substitute spelt flour for plain flour and use soy milk but didn’t bother this time as I didn’t have a yoghurt substitute, and so the muffins wouldn’t be dairy free anyway.  Sometimes you just have to break the diet!

Lightly beat the egg and mix with the yoghurt and butter (make sure the butter has cooled and the egg and yoghurt are at room temperature or the butter will solidify).  In another bowl, mix the sieved flour, lavender, blueberries and sugar together.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together.  Stir in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin.  (I use the silicone thingies…)

Bake at 190 C for approximately 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

And next morning whilst C played Barnbougle I went birdwatching on the beach

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

where I saw fairy terns with chicks and hooded plovers with chicks (both rare and endangered birds and life ticks for me) and sooty and pied oystercatchers and kelp and Pacific gulls, went walking in the wildflower reserve (where I saw more birds and numerous wallabies),  had coffee at a lovely cafe in Bridport,  and feel in love with the place.  Roll on next golf trip!

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Skywatch Friday – sunset @ Freycinet on Christmas day

January 15, 2011

A new year, and a resolution to blog more frequently!

And what better way to begin 20011 than with a Skywatch Friday photo or 2… or 4…

Sunset @ Freycinet, Christmas day 2010

Sunset @ Freycinet, Christmas day 2010

We spent two weeks in Tasmania in December – our first visit.  It was special for many reasons, not least of those is that we nearly cancelled the trip 2 days prior because of some health issues I am dealing with.  But – we went, it was wonderful and we hope to visit again soon.

As well as Hobart, Cradle Mountain and Barnbougle golf course, we had 4 nights at Freycinet Lodge in Freycinet National Park.  On Christmas Day we drove up the coast (in the hopes of getting mobile phone reception so that we could call MissN who was in China on exchange) to picnic at Binalong Bay at the southern end of the Bay of Fires.

Binalong Bay

Binalong Bay

Our lunch was a picnic comprised of fruit and pastries from breakfast, cheese and a bottle of pinot noir we had bought at Freycinet Vineyard a couple of days before, and chocolate from the Christmas stocking (we didn’t exchange gifts this year).  We watched some locals dive for crayfish and abalone and later drove as far north as the Gardens.  (This area has been affected by flash flooding – the same weather system that has devastated SE Queensland, northern NSW and western Victoria – this week).   We did manage to get to speak to MissN on our way home (there is reception at Bicheno).  She was waiting (in the cold – it was about -2C there) to get a table at Pizza Hut in Tianjin with her exchange buddies.  A very different Christmas for her too!

Dinner was at the Lodge – a rather uninspired buffet.  But we had the view.. and the sunset.

Here are a couple more.

Sunset Coles Bay, Freycinet

Sunset Coles Bay, Freycinet

Coles Bay

Coles Bay

A blessed day.

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Skywatch Friday – Parliament House, Canberra

September 10, 2010

It’s been a long while.. but I’m back blogging with a Skywatch Friday photo or 2.

MissN and I had a trip to Canberra (3 hours drive away) in July with Amy, her exchange sister, who is from Tianjin (near Beijing), China.  Of course, Parliament House was on the itinerary.  It was a grey, chilly day but there were patches of blue from time to time.

Here are the girls in the House of Representatives. I love the colours in the two houses. The green symbolises the eucaylpts, Australia’s dominant and defining tree.

The Senate is rose-pink – the colour of the new growth.

Parliament House is a remarkable piece of architecture.  I love it,  This is on the roof looking south.  The vertical lines are part of the huge flagpole which can be seen from many partsof Canberra and acts as a guide to which direction to go when you get lost on one of the many circuits or roundabouts!

This is from the forecourt looking towards Old Parliament House and Mount Ainslie.

And here are the girls – dressed in grey for a grey day (apart from MissN’s socks!)

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Skywatch Friday – a fun Sunday afternoon at McMahon’s Point

October 23, 2009

MissN and I attended a Women’s Event at my church back in March where the men cooked for us gals and shared their recipes.  MissN has been making Simon’s Thai red curry ever since, both with fish and with chicken!  The session finished at 4 and we had 2 hours till evening service at 6 and so decided to go down to McMahon’s Point (I used to catch the ferry to and from McMahon’s Point to Drummoyne when I worked in North Sydney many years ago) and chill. We had fun!
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I love how the clouds in this photo dominate both the bridge and the Opera House! Spot the train crossing the bridge!  We watched the ferries

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and the water taxis

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MissN decided to act like a 3 year old and had fun rolling on the grass.

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and behaving like a kid.  She does that well.

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She isn’t quite grown up yet.  But then neither is her mum.

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I think we will always have fun together.

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You can see more Skywatch Friday posts here.

Sydney Duststorm No 2

October 16, 2009

skywatch Friday

Three days after the red dust storm we had a few weeks ago, we had a second – this time it was yellow, not as severe and was gone by 8.30am. But it did provide a very eerie atmosphere.
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I almost missed seeing the sun!

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You can get an idea of how hard the wind was blowing in the next photo – which was good – it was all clear by mid morning, but billions of tons of our soil had been dumped in the Pacific ocean and New Zealand gained some too!
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Miss Dolce cat was most perturbed by my being out there in the weird light and wind.  She was crying from the upstairs balcony!  Poor baby.

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You can see more Skywatch Friday photos here.

Sydney dust storm

September 25, 2009

Red sky in the morning…

skywatch Friday

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We awoke to an amazing sight on Wednesday morning – the sky was red!  It was eerily luminous as the rising sun (which we didn’t see for quite a few more hours) was reflected off the red dust particles which had been blown in by gale force winds in the one-in-a-century dust storm.

Hopefully one-in-a-century…  increasingly common droughts and global warming mean they might become more frequesnt.

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It was intensely red just after 6am (you can see the effect of the wind on the trees),

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orange just before 7am

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and yellow by mid morning (which I didn’t photograph as I was out and about by then).  Blue sky was visible in patches again by midday, thanks to the gale force winds which blew in the sand from Lake Eyre, half way across the continent, and then blew it out again, taking some of it as far as New Zealand.  By late afternoon it was gone.

The next morning there was a pair of goldfinches trying to get into our study window – perhaps blown in from the west as they were my first sighting in Breakfast Point, although they are recorded on the bird list for Sydney Olympic Park, and are probably quite common in various grasslands nearby.

The storms have been widespread – Cairns nearly 3000 kms away was affected.  We are expecting another one tomorrow morning but not as severe.   Poor Miss Dolce cat still has a red ruff.  She ventured outside yesterday (a day after the storm) and picked up the dust from garden vegetation.

More Skywatch pictures here.

Skywatch Friday – Sunset from Cabarita

September 4, 2009

Sunset from Cabarita, lunch in Balmain and a good day with Liz.

skywatch Friday

It’s been a while since I Skywatched.  These  photos were taken in when my friend Liz was up from Melbourne in June and spent a day with me.  We had a wonderful lunch in Balmain and tea back at my place and I dropped her at the ferry wharf at Cabarita in the late afternoon to get the ferry to the city.  The sun was rapidly dropping behind the industrial buildings in Breakfast Point (where we live) across Kendall Bay.

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I love the liquid gold reflections.

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and here is Liz at the deli counter in the cafe at lunchtime, where we picked out our salads (which I resisted posting photos of!):

Liz

Liz

Where we ate on Darling Street (the cafe picked because I got a car park right opposite):

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Very punny name:

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Great coffee and sunny seats: MayJune09 067

and atmosphere and chat in the sun, and window shopping in Rozelle.  Pyrmont and the city from Rozelle:

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Here is the ferry:

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and there she goes…

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Thanks for a great day, Liz! Miss you!

To see many more terrific sky pictures or to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

Pretty in punk – Ruby Tuesday

February 25, 2009

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I haven’t participated in Ruby Tuesday, hosted by Mary/The Teach for a while, but a wonderful woodpecker here reminded me that I had a “red” photo to share.

Punk princess

Punk princess

The divine MissN attended a fancy dress “P” party on Saturday.  She went as a punk, as did the party girl (they are soul sisters?) but MissN’s was a much tamer punk than MissA who was authentically outfitted with black wig and chains.  They ate “p” food, pizza, potato wedges, pretzels, pythons, pavlova, drank pink lemonade, pub squash…

Don’t you love the necklace (aka my quilting safety pins?)