Saturday, September 27, 2014

The sea, a hang glider, and a bucket

We've been going to Mona Vale every week for the last few months,
to visit the chiropractor. The ocean is just a few blocks away, but we've always been rushing
there and back and hadn't even driven by the beach until a few weeks ago.
Which is a shame, because we don't get to be by water that often.

So on Tuesday after our appointment we girls took a drive, and found a spot on a headland
where we could be blown away by the view; and could watch dogs running; and wave to a hang glider flying right over us; and practice iceskating moves on a convenient balance beam.

And then we drove some more until we found a shady spot by the lake, 
and had a picnic with some very large ducks.

That should have been enough for one day, but then we went shopping at the mall,
and on the way home had major dramas when a big painter's bucket rolled under our car on a 3-lane main road - eek! But after half an hour of fears, tears and some VERY noisy driving to get onto a side street, we managed eventually to get it out by me driving half onto the kerb and Laura pushing and pulling with an umbrella. Phew. Lying with my head on a 6 lane road at peak hour is not one of my favorite things to do. Another half an hour later and we were very glad to be home safely.

After a quick dinner we all headed out to an Irish session, where many of our Yass friends
were gathered, and 9 fiddlers, a banjo player and an accordion player played jigs and reels, while Laura knitted and Emily did a good job of pretending to look interested.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Weekend in Yass

On Thursday afternoon Steve and I headed south for the town of Yass, to be part of the Turning Wave Festival, a festival of Irish music, dance and poetry. (You can read about the other time we attended this festival here, back in 2008 when it was held in Gundagai).

After the rush of getting ready to leave, it was wonderful to be driving in the open countryside, looking forward to a great weekend. Just seeing so much sky is enough reason for me to enjoy being out of Sydney.

We stopped briefly at Goulburn then hurried on, hoping to reach Yass before dark.

As it turned out, it was perfect timing - we were treated to the most amazing sunset.
I might have gotten a bit carried away taking photos of it every moment or two as it changed ...

We drove into Yass (pop. 5591) at twilight. 

We had dinner at the club, followed by a good session with a good group of 
people who had arrived early, like us.

The next morning we woke up in our cute little 1960s motel 

and headed down the main street to do a little shopping 
(someone forgot her toothbrush) and go to our fiddle class.

The fiddle classes were held outside on a big old verandah. The building is currently being used as an art gallery. It was a cold morning and pretty chilly up there in the shade when the wind blew. It might have been 10degC by then, it had been only 2degC when we woke up.

Our class was taught by the lovely Tricia Hastings from County Clare.
She taught us a few jigs and reels over the weekend, and a barndance, and we also learnt ways to ornament the tunes. At the end of the weekend we gave a little recital of what we had learnt in the Liberty Theatre.  On Friday we also did a little looking at antiques. We loved this shop and I bought a few things here.


Everything was arranged so tastefully, I wanted it all.

But across the road we learnt that less really is more.

After 15 minutes trawling through rooms full of old stuff at this shop, I was exhausted and quite happy not to see anything vintage for another year or so. (And it's never a good look to leave cleaning things and used paper towel on display, I don't think!). These photos were of the more organised sections of this huge collection.

After a good lunch in a cafe, we spent the afternoon exploring more of Yass on foot, admiring some old homes and gardens, and meeting the friendly neighbour next to the motel.

On Friday evening the festival began.
First stop for us was a recital in the beautiful old St Augustine's Chapel.
We arrived early and a lone Uilleann piper was tuning up.

The sunshine was streaming in the western window as we heard beautiful 
pipes, fiddle and concertina solos.

After the recital and a yummy Vietnamese dinner making new friends, we stayed out till midnight hearing some great bands in the old Liberty Theatre, everything from traditional to Celtic rock, including Cliodhna Ni Ruairc, Sunas, Saoirse and Night Potion.  Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of those groups.

Next morning, another fiddle class, 

(my fiddle on the left, Steve's on the right)

a visit to the Celtic markets, and an afternoon and night jam-packed full of bands.

Ballyhooley, Cady & Redford, Tricia Hastings, Kent Daniel and Bill Wiseman, Corinn Strating Band, Lime and Steel, Jason & Chloe Roweth, Senor Cabrales, Gallie, and Grimick. A bit of everything that could be labeled folk or acoustic. We loved almost every one of these gigs, and the ones we didn't love were still entertaining. Some of the highlights were Grimick, Senor Calabres, and Kent Daniels & Bill Wiseman.

By Saturday night the atmosphere in the town was just about 100% Irish.  In every pub people were playing in sessions. People were dancing and sharing poetry at other venues, and we came 
across these guys playing outside a pub, in the cold.

On Sunday morning we had our final fiddle class, followed by our class recital on the stage
where we had watched so many wonderful performers.  We got through a barndance and a reel
without any dramas, and listened to what the concertina class had learned, and some more tunes by piper Pat Lyons. After a quick lunch in the park it was time for us to head home and collect our girls. We hadn't seen all the bands, but most of them. So much music, so little time.

It was a fantastic weekend, full of good times being together, getting to know like-minded people, all willing to share their music, good food (that I could eat!),enjoying being in a country town, and hearing some truly great music.  A perfect break.

The girls stayed with my parents and (as well as finishing off the school term) went to a local Medieval Faire, Mum emailed this photo of them all dressed up ready to go. (Emily's outfit was one of her school textiles projects last year, and Laura's dress is the one I wore to my Jane Austen birthday party.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dutch Oven Garden

At the Garden Day I went to recently, I bought this succulent.
At last, something to plant in my old cast iron dutch oven.
A few months ago I left the pot burning too long in one spot, and the enamel cracked.
So I bought a new one the next time they were on sale at Aldi.
I couldn't bring myself to just throw it out and have been waiting to find some plants for it.
So this was a nice quick project after a day of garden inspiration.

I'm not sure if this is really going to grow, I have my suspicions about that plant stall,
but it's looking good, especially with some added colour from some mosaic tiles I found in the shed.
(which were long ago planned for another project).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Card designs for men

It's always hard to design cards for men, I find.
Here are the three cards I made for the fathers in our lives.
The one above was for my Dad, using the new Stampin' Up Flower Patch stamp set in a geometric way.
It reminds me of a peacock, or an American Indian headdress.

This one was for Steve, using some stickers I found a few years ago.
Oh, how I love these stickers, so much fun.
I stuck two little robots on to represent our girls, and stamped a few circle
designs randomly on the background. The bright colours really make this card pop.

This card for Steve's Dad was from my stash, I made it a while back,
not sure if I've shown it before. It features some Memory Box dies.

So there you go, three ideas for men - geometric, robots and nature designs.

Do you make your own cards?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Garden Inspiration

On Friday I went to a local Garden Day, and toured 8 gardens. Lately I've been looking out for inspiration wherever I go, thinking of our garden and what to plant where. The gardens on this tour were not particularly spectacular, but I did like the hedges of this one, so neat and classic.

Some of the best inspiration came from peeking through gates at gardens 
or parts of gardens NOT on show:

This suburb certainly is a lovely part of the world.
I went with my parents and aunt, and we also enjoyed the side entertainment - the microcars and cabin scooters (too cute) ...

the pipe and drum band playing Scottish tunes (and Waltzing Matilda),

and stalls full of beautiful things that we managed to resist. Although I did buy a few plants.
All in all, an enjoyable day out, despite some rain and a necessary dash into the lunch tent at one point.

On the way home I stopped at the op shop and bought some more garden design books,
I have quite the collection now, to read during afternoon teas.  Some of them are about 20 years old now, but I find I'm liking those styles better than some of the modern garden designs, (which seem to be all native grasses and outdoor kitchens and water features). I'm looking forward to planting out one corner of our front garden, where we've dug out about a million fishbone ferns*. It will take a few weeks to get it completely cleared and a stump ground out, so I've got some time to dream and plan and mark out before I head to the nursery.

*While at the Garden Day I discovered a stall telling me that actually quite a few plants well-known to our garden are noxious or environmental weeds, including these ferns. Hmm, more work to do.

Garden photos taken on my phone, some are also Instagram pics.