Take 5 for Friday

It’s easy to get caught up in capturing the right shot and having the perfect life (thank you, social media). At some point, you might just wonder where the pure childlike joy went.

It’s time to Take 5. So strap on those runners, grab your camera (or phone), and head out the door.

As you walk, take five photos of things that catch your eye, give you joy or just make you feel good.

Take 5 (Aug 10)

It’s not about about being arty. It’s not a competition. It’s about noticing the things that make you happy.

The most important part happens back at home. Look at your photos and write down what each one means to you. Why did it grab your attention? Why did it make you feel good?

Here’s what the pics I took mean to me:

  1. Pandanus palms withstand sea spray, wind and drought and still look great – what’s not to love about such resilience?
  2. IMG_1903This pelican made me smile because it held itself aloof from the other pelicans waiting for the fisherfolk to arrive and clean their daily catch – no begging for this cool customer! Just comfortable in its own – um – feathers
  3. The winter wind was chilly but the salty water was deliciously fresh
  4. You can’t help smiling at Pigface, a creeping succulent that’s pop of colour among the rocks
  5. Aqua blue water you just want to sink into.

It’s all about taking a trip without leaving your suburb.

Sure, it helps if you live near the beach – but those moments can happen anywhere. Even in your own backyard. Here’s proof from my place…

backyard

Now it’s your turn… Let’s get happy!

 


Historical and arty… in Sydney

Just back from weekend wanderings and writing workshop fun in Sydney. Here’s some of the historical and arty things that caught my eye around town…

Most people were checking out the posh boats at the Sydney Boat Show in Darling Harbour, but I was captivated by the ripples…

© Louise Creely. All Rights Reserved.

Definitely painting this one next!                                                             © Louise Creely

EB had me walking for hours, so finding fabulous street art like this was the perfect distraction…

IMG_1831

Taking art to the streets, in a roundabout way…

Here’s a clever way of interpreting history. It really puts you in the picture…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Nicely interpreted: Brown bear lane (then little Essex street) in 1901

We just loved all the square-cut sandstone and the gorgeous plantings at Sydney’s newest harbour foreshore park, Barangaroo Reserve.

Created on one of Sydney’s oldest industrial sites,  the area had been inaccessible to the public for more than 100 years, until it was transformed into a space for the people and opened in 2015.

Copyright: Louise Creely

The Harbour Bridge from Barangaroo

Copyright: Louise Creely

For me, it’s just a reminder that there are amazing and beautiful things all around us… if we really look.

Copyright: Louise Creely. All rights reserved.

Solid as rock…

 


Hanging out at the Farm Gate Market

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Criterion Street art

There’s nothing better than a lazy Sunday morning in Tasmania. And stumbling across a vibrant farmer’s market in the heart of Hobart city is, quite simply, a treat for the senses.

While I was checking out some street art, EB wandered off (as he does) and discovered the Farm Gate Market in Bathurst Street. What a find!

The markets opened five years ago with just 12 stallholders – and the simple philosophy  that ‘if you can’t eat it, drink it, grow it or meet the producer, then you wouldn’t find it at the market‘.

IMG_1524Now it’s one of the top ten Farmer’s Markets in Australia and it’s easy to see why. If you love fresh produce and delicious treats plus a little local flavour, this is the place to be.

We’ll be living in Hobart next year (if all goes to plan), so there’s no prizes for guessing where you’ll find us on a Sunday morning.

Here’s just some of the deliciousness…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Magic mushrooms…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Lovin’ the horse float!

 

 

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Bury me standing? Yes please

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Who knew all that about garlic?

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

All this fabulous freshness feels like France

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

And down the road, you’ve gotta love the winter streets of Hobart


Tell me a story: travel writing tips

Yurt in Mongolia

A Yurt in the Mongolian Steppe (iStock image)

Have you ever eaten an eyeball? Me either. Dissecting one in biology class was enough. But I’ve done a bit of writing and read a lot of travel articles and blogs, so I thought I’d share some tips I’ve picked up along the way…

Beyond the daily grind

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start your travel story. Which makes it too easy to get caught up in an (endless) checklist of your day, from the time you open your eyes to the moment you fall into bed exhausted after visiting 24 churches and museums.

Avoid starting with ‘I woke up in the morning’, because that’s kind-of obvious, right? Unless you woke up in your hotel surrounded by water after torrential rains caused flash flooding.

And we don’t need to know that you ate breakfast before setting off – unless you’re in a Mongolian yurt eating pickled sheep eyeballs.

Find the hook

Remember as a kid telling a story? It went from ‘and then and then and then’ to the climax – while your parents developed the art of sleeping with their eyes open.

That was then… Now your online readers are gone in the click of a mouse, so you need to hook them into your story. Here’s a clue: start with the action.

Tell me you took a long haul flight from Australia, had a six hour stopover in Beijing, did some duty free shopping, and – I’m gone.

Start with those eyeballs and you’ve got me hooked. Then I want to know what you’re doing there, how you got there, and what you’re getting up to next.

How do you find the action? First write the whole blog, then do some serious editing, pulling the action up-front, and re-crafting the piece so it all works.

Finally, wrap it all up by bringing the focus (or action) back into your ending. You started eating eyeballs, now you’re ending with another meal around a fire. Maybe you spent the day with nomadic shepherds and shared a meal with them, serenaded by the quiet bleats of sleepy sheep – no pickled eyeballs in sight.

Old Mongolian man in national clothing, Central Mongolia

Old Mongolian man in Central Mongolia (iStock image)

Take me there

Tell me what it’s like to be there, and tell it with all your senses. Take me there through the smells, tastes, colour and movement around you – and don’t skip over the anxiety, the fear, the loathing, because those are what make you human.

It’s also what brings your story to life. Can’t you just feel that eyeball pop between your teeth and the warm jelly stuff inside squirting down your throat? But you can’t spit out this delicacy and offend your hosts, so you anxiously try not to gag while you work up the courage to swallow it. And you’re a vegetarian.

Keep it short

Applying the KISS principle (keep it simple for success) to writing is my life work, I’m sure. As a writer and editor, reading ‘brain dumps’ just feels like work. Hard work.

And that’s the writer’s job, not the reader’s.  And yes, it is definitely harder to write ‘short’ and keep it simple. It requires editing (read: slash and burn) and losing some parts you’re attached to because they don’t advance your story.

Earlier, I had a bit about walking out of Indira Gandhi International Airport into a wet wall of heat and being enveloped in the heavy rancid odour of rotting vegetation or something festy I didn’t want to think about. Gone. Well, it’s here, but you get my point. I stuck with the eyeballs, as you do.

Copyright: Louise Creely

A cheeky local in Vietnam – proof that a smile is the universal language

Tell me a story

Most of all, tell me a story. Talk to the locals, use interpretive dance if you have to. Find the funny side or the dark side.

Take me beyond the guide book, down the back alleys and side streets, away from the tick-off tourist sites and photo opportunities, and into your adventure.

Because travel is about living at the edge of your comfort zone. So go there, and tell me what it’s really like. You may inspire me to follow you…

 

 

 


A fashionable dilemma

Ash looking gorgeous

Our Ash with her effortless gorgeousness 

Last night over a vino or three, my friend and I were comparing our European ‘fashun’ adventures.

You know the ones, when you’re sure you’ve packed to cover every contingency and have the right look going on, only to feel completely dishevelled around the delightfully effortless locals who make jeans, a teeshirt and a scarf look so, well, runway.

And then there are those inspired moments, when you decide a new look is the answer. So you do the whole white blonde to dark chestnut thing… and end up with a superman-style do.

Add to that a little eyebrow tinting and facial-fluff threading and your journey has begun – as a blotchy-faced, caterpillar-browed mother of a super hero.

Okay that’s my friend’s adventure, but I laughed so much I nearly choked on my vino. Because I can relate to it – she of the strategically packed, quick-dry recreation gear that seemed so practical at the time, or the other fashun disasters that never saw the light of the European sun.

But wait, there’s also the dreaded ‘packing light’ dilemma. Because, says EB, this time I’m not dragging a bloody huge bag up narrow flights of stairs to lofty nests overlooking the city. Thank you very much.

Now there’s the sticking point, when I utterly refuse to spend over two months in androgynous action fatigues, even if they are wicking, wash and wear, wrinkle-free, odour resistant, and possibly with added bear-repellant qualities.

In the end, part of the joy of travel (and life) is in people watching. I’m guessing this trip will be no exception. Besides, no matter how carefully I pack, I won’t have a thing to wear. C’est la vie.

At the very least, my friend and I decided, there shall be no more caterpillars.

 

 

 


Five great reasons to visit Portugal

MP900305799I’ve wanted to go to Portugal for such a long time – and it’s finally happening! Why Portugal? I thought you’d never ask!

Here’s five great reasons to visit Portugal:

  1. Lisbon – a city that is truly vintage Europe, with all the traditions and gorgeousness without the hype.
  2. Feasts – naturally it varies from region to region, but there are national obsessions like bacalhau (salted cod) and cozido à portuguesa (stew), and other gourmet delights matched with perfect Portuguese wine, mmmmm.
  3. Pilgrim’s trail – the Camino Portugué is a more rural take on the traditional pilgrim’s trail in Spain… passing through lush forests, terraced fields, vineyards and sleepy villages (sounds perfect to me!).
  4. Porto – the home of port of course. Add cruising on the Douro with some port tastings along the way, and strolling through the maze of steep, narrow cobbled streets. Perfection right there.
  5. Beachy bliss – the Algarve region is a favourite coastal hangout for locals and tourists. With year-round sun and gorgeous temperatures, a stunning coastline and all the culture of Portugal, it’s a no brainer we’ll be spending some time there – and coming back to cycle it sometime soon!

But my favourite part is that Portugal is fresh – off the beaten tourist trail and the perfect place to hang out as part of our very compressed ‘golden gap year’ from September to mid-November. Bring it on…

 


Port Arthur then and now…

Copyright: Louise Creely

It’s been two decades since that gut-wrenching day in April 1996 when a single gunman opened fire in a small, relaxed cafe at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania. In those moments, he stole lives – physically and emotionally – and forever changed a nation.

Copyright: Louise Creely

The cafe site has become a peaceful place to remember the 35 souls lost and 23 injured in the massacre…

His heinous act kicked off a push for gun laws in Australia, cementing the resolve of the then-Prime Minister Mr John Howard and his government to make the change happen.

Many Australians have never lived in a time when pump action and automatic rifles were on the streets – and could be bought in a corner store with your milk and bread.

While those terrible moments will never be forgotten here, today the focus has shifted back to the convict era and the former penal colony of Port Arthur remains a fascinating tourist destination.

Copyright: Louise RalphEstablished in 1833 as a timber-getting camp, Port Arthur played a significant role in the story of European settlement in Australia.

But long before Europeans arrived, the Pydairrerme people were the traditional custodians of the land, finding food for the body and the spirit in these wild places.

Over time, their pathways became roads and endless bushland was replaced by sandstone buildings created with convict labour.

The Isles of the Dead where over 1000 military, free settlers and convicts were buried between 1833 and 1877.

The Isles of the Dead where over 1000 military people, free settlers and convicts were buried between 1833 and 1877.

While Port Arthur is renowned for breaking many men, some gained useful skills they would take beyond this place into their life as free settlers.

The penal settlement finally closed in 1877 and, while it became the township of Carnarvon for a while, by the 1920s stories of convict days were bringing in the tourists.

Eventually,  the site was renamed Port Arthur and, over the years, the once crumbling buildings have been beautifully preserved, and the stories artfully captured.

On entry to the site, you’re given a playing card and invited to find your character, then follow ‘your convict’ through the twists and turns of their story.

This cleverly designed interpretation brings their world to life…

Copyright: Louise Creely

art of stone…

It’s a fabulous trip into the past, but don’t pass by the natural wonders of this magnificent coastline. Here’s just a taste… and if you’d like to go, it’s a short road trip north-east from Hobart or jump on a Tasman Island Cruise for the perfect day trip. Bon voyage!

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

A stunning example of tessellated pavement at Eaglehawk Neck where the rock has fractured to create a mosaic tile look

Tasmans Arch is all that's left of the roof of a large sea cave, carved out by the waves over thousands of years

Tasmans Arch is all that’s left of the roof of a large sea cave, carved out by the waves over thousands of years

 


Postcard from the Dolomites

Copyright: Louise Creely

Legends of the mountain. Apparently.

If you’re going to learn to ski, you may as well start at the top. In the fabulous Italian Dolomites, that is.

EB had never been on the slopes before (ones with snow on them anyway) so back in 2000 we took our first ski trip together – to La Villa in the valley of Alta Badia.

We went with Skiare Ski Tours and it was the best decision we made. Thomas, who owns and operates Skiare with wife Debbie, easily spotted us Aussies at the airport.

The clue: I wasn’t wearing stilettos and skin tight jeans for the flight, he said.

By the time we’d been skiing for six days under the expert instruction of Thomas, Macca and others, we were carving up the slopes… and sometimes spectacularly crashing out, usually when attempting jumps (more like bumps actually).

On our last day there, we even took on a black run. With plenty of enthusiasm and sub-zero style of course.

The following year I managed to pop my ACL in New Zealand, and haven’t been back on the slopes since.

But my sista and bro-in-law are skiing at Silver Star Mountain in Canada right now, so the itch is starting up again.

Ah yes, the call of the Dolomites (and delicious prune schnapps) is getting louder…

View from room at Gran Risa

A room with a view… at the Gran Risa, in the gorgeous village of La Villa.

Gondola at back door

…with the gondola to the ski slopes right at the back door. (Hard to take, I know)

World Cup black run behind hotel

…and a perfect view of the World Cup black run from our hotel window. Chilled bliss right there.

 


Take an art break… at Tweed Regional Gallery

Copyright: Louise Creely

Pursuit (2004) by sculptor John Petrie at the Tweed Regional Gallery

If you’re living or staying on the coast in the NSW Northern Rivers region and you’re feeling a little ‘beached out’, it might be time to head inland to Murwillumbah for a change of scenery – and to visit a simply stunning regional art gallery.

The Lonely Planet describes the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre as ‘exceptional’ and ‘an architectural delight’ – and you won’t be disappointed.

While it wouldn’t be out of place in a major city, the gallery sits with elegance and attitude in the hills overlooking the Tweed River.

Copyright: Louise Creely

View from the deck…

From Wednesday to Sunday you’ll see an amazing collection of works in a variety of media, along with touring exhibitions of national significance across six exhibition spaces.

The Yellow Room - a plaque at the gallery describes how Ollie painted in different rooms of her home studio, 'following the light around the house as the sun moved across the sky'.

The Yellow Room – a plaque at the gallery describes how Ollie painted in different rooms of her home studio, ‘following the light around the house as the sun moved across the sky’.

And then there is the incredible Margaret Ollie Art Centre.

Here, the celebrated Australian painter’s home studio has been meticulously recreated from photographs taken within 10 days of her passing in 2011.

All that art can work up an appetite, but that’s covered here too.

Step into the Gallery Cafe for some delicious food and bevs, before heading off to soak up the vintage village atmosphere in the township of Murwillumbah.

It’s a perfect way to spend a lazy summer’s day. No sunscreen required.

 

 


A fresh page to write your adventures

Copyright: Louise CreelyIt’s easy to get to the end of a year and wonder where your resolutions went. If you’re like me, you left them at the gym about mid-January.

But don’t despair. This is the perfect time to write your ‘done list’. The big, small, easy, fear-facing, clever, inspired or a little bit dull kind of stuff you actually did in 2015.

Even if it was buying that bike ready for your touring adventures or sticking at swimming when you still feel like a whale caught in a shark net…

Because if you look at what you’ve done, not the un-conquered to-do list, then you’ll feel a whole lot better about you and your life. And that has to be a good thing.

Someday soon you’re going to pack up that touring bike and head off, or have your mermaid or merman moment.

Whatever it is you’re dreaming about, start now – in a great leap or small steps.

Today you turn to a fresh page. It’s time to start writing your adventure story.

Copyright: Louise Creely


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