Tuesday, November 22, 2016

tasting beauty

It seems surreal to step into the pictures of instagram.

That's what it was like to walk in the door and be enveloped by the warm welcome and tangible atmosphere of Tamsin Carvan's home.

To be seated at that table. 
Tamsin's Table. 
With that glorious view.

Experiencing Tamsin & Melanie's Field & Flourish workshop not only whet the appetite, but it was food for the soul.
The afternoon at the long table lunch were hours to be savoured.

 Melanie Stapleton,from Melbourne's Cecelia Fox floral studio and her lovely assistant Morgana coached each of us in the art of arranging flowers, while Tamsin pottered away in the background, rolling, kneading, chopping, stirring ...and smiling.

Tamsin's cooking was a work of art. So simple and so delicious.

A sip of rose syrup in champagne to tingle the tastebuds before we roamed the rose paddock, gathering armfuls of flowery abundance from Tamsin's rambling old fashioned scented rose bushes, garden and even the veggie patch!

The rooms were filled with flowers!

It was an honor to participate in Field & Flourish 2016.

Dreams were nourished and ideas blossomed in such an inspiring atmosphere with the company of new friends.


Australian Country Style Magazine has been a constant source of inspiration over decades.
My bookshelves are groaning under the weight of so many back issues, but I cannot bear to part with a single one.
The stories have become part of my own history.

I have dogeared quite a few articles and tucked them aside in the hope of following up on ideas and destinations.
I highly recommend it as a travel guide! Seriously. The places I have discovered off the highway have been some of the best times of my life.
My husband & I had a wonderful trip to Tasmania five years ago and the highlight was staying in a beautiful stone cottage on the coast near the Freycinet Peninsula all because of an article I had spotted and tucked away.

I have dreamed of horseriding in the high country of Victoria or the snowy mountains ever since I was a teenager.
A few years down the track now and I wondered if I would actually be able to walk for a week if I hopped on horseback!
I am chuffed to say, not only did my bones hold up, but my muscles didn't ache after half a day in the saddle. I am sure it had something to do with the horses. They were a dream to ride.

When I booked in for a special workshop this month, I also made it a priority to book a special experience for my children & I to share together. Horseriding in the high country of Mt Bogong.
We drove 12 hours to make it to the property Spring Spur for our Bogong Horseback Adventures in time to stay the night. We jumped out of bed early to hop on our horses and ride before we had a hightail it to the next destination later that afternoon.

I read about the Baird family a few years ago. It was a pleasure to meet them and to experience their beautiful property, the horses born and bred and trained in natural horsemanship and see what they have poured their lives into these past 30 years. It was inspirational what a family can do together! What a team. We were made to feel very welcome.

Clay Baird, above, saddled up and ready to lead.

It was the most perfect clear spring day. You could just glimpse snow on Mt Feathertop through the picture windows. Below is our lovely accommodation on the property.

I loved meandering through the smaller towns off the main highways and showing my children some of my favourites. Kyneton, Daylesford and Trentham are so interesting I just want to wander and gaze and absorb the lovely details.

Even though it was after hours, I wanted to show our aspiring chef the famous bakery we had heard about. We shall have to taste the sourdough another day! Clay Baird is actually quite a cook. He shared some stories of his travels with Daniel over dinner which was a bonus for my young son.

Next up will be....the workshop!

new vistas beckon

Now I know where Poowong is.
It is one thing to see the jot of a spot on a map and another to immerse yourself in the locality.
Poowong, a pretty little place in the Gippsland, now has a place in my heart.

We stopped and stayed and meandered in the Gippsland area for three days on a recent jaunt to Victoria. 
The vibrant green grass was soothing to our parched eyes. Where we come from is shaping up to be the driest season in 60 years!

Our Air B&B bolthole

It is so refreshing to change the scenery. I get a bit restless at this time of year...keen to replenish my own soul to prepare to be hospitable over the holiday season. 

After visiting the UK three years ago, I came home with a hankering to explore the beautiful areas of my own country. We have our own green rolling hills in the right season and some lovely gardens to appreciate. Especially in Spring.

The excuse to go south hinged on a wonderful workshop I signed up to do for my own interest. The bonus was deciding to make it a road trip and take my children along for the ride.

I wanted to give my youngest three homeschooled students an overview of Victoria and southern NSW.  A geography excursion to experience the beauty of our country and a taste for the history in a tangible way. To walk the streets of Ballarat, not just look at photos and read dates in a one dimensional lesson. To feel the blustery wind as they looked out over the bay where the whalers kept watch in Eden. To be awed by the scope of the wild coastline along the Great Ocean Road and to dip their toes in the Snowy River. 
I must admit I am still reeling after a whirlwind 4865 kms in two weeks flat, but I hope it whet their appetites to go back and explore at a later date. I am already looking forward to returning to some favourite areas and slowing down enough to meander more.

                 Contemplating the education of a garden. Food for the soul - 11 year olds included.

                             Red Cow Farm in the Southern Highlands was exquisite. My children enjoyed it as much as I did. Truly! 

 The roses! Oh the roses. The fragrance of these old fashioned beauties enveloped us as we wandered.

There was a wonderful mixture of structure and cottagy blowsy beauty.. A plant collectors treasure trove.
This exquisitie rhododendron and the weigela below were species variations I had never seen before.

I love getting off the beaten track. The road less travelled. Especially by trucks!
This treasure of a spot was where we camped in a state forest on the banks of the Snowy River near Orbost.

You really get to experience a sense of place. Even better if you hop out and walk around the little country towns and explore. The beautiful historical architecture makes my fingers twitch to sketch all those little details. Carpenters were craftsmen in those days. The scrollwork is a work of art.
You don't need to go to Europe to find beautiful vignettes that make your fingers twitch to sketch.

It beats me how to actually make time to sketch when one travels. I popped my pad and pencils in my bag, but I don’t quite know how to stop and sit still long enough to capture it all. Perhaps the art is in the quick draw. I admire the pen and ink sketches people do on the run. I must figure that out.
Meanwhile, as a mere beginner,  taking a photo gives me a second opportunity to sit and savour the building later when I have time to dabble and draw slowly.

Friday, October 28, 2016

take a detour

When was the last time you went off the beaten track?
Took a detour and discovered the scenic route?
My husband and I have passed like ships in the night recently, interacting on everyday necessity wavelengths.
Time to whisk each other away from normal routine and leave our everyday concerns behind.
His idea was a birthday celebration for me. 
My idea was a much needed dose of TLC for him. 
So we kidnapped each other.
To be together with no agenda other than to relax and kick into neutral.
A road trip is a good way to reconnect.
To be a passenger in the hands of my steady stable husband is a comforting, secure feeling. He seems to have an amazing knowledge about the lay of the land everywhere we go. His agricultural work exploring properties searching for weeds takes him in so many different directions.
When I am in the driver’s seat, the adventure can be a little more exhilarating. 
You never know where we will end up!
I love that feeling of taking an unexpected turnoff and discovering a different route.
There is a sense of anticipation. 
What’s up ahead? What’s around the corner?
New vistas open up that take your breath away and truly refresh your perspective.
An adventure doesn’t have to be overseas and it doesn’t have to be glamorous.
We took a turnoff into White Swamp Road and meandered through a beautiful valley that opened up into a new-to-me national park with secluded camping spots near a shady creek.
Definitely one to come back to with the family.
Sometimes our whole routine needs a shift. 
To change gears and go exploring.
Summer’s coming. 
Time to dust off the camping gear!

And maybe listen to Canyon City's easy music?
"Let's go get lost on a long back road

Where the river turns to streams and the time moves slow
It's not anything you say, anywhere we go
It's just being along with you now,
Being alone with you"

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

tea time

Tea time is treasured in our home.
It is a special time to pause and savour the simple treat of sipping hot tea – real tea in a pot – and nibbling a sweet little something.
China teacups are not reserved for “special occasions. 
Every day is special!
These past four days have been busy running a (very amateur) tearoom in a beautiful display garden open to the public during Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers. We transformed an open shed with pretty bunting, flowers, pink tablecloths, classical music and more flowers.

It was very wet weather this year which put a dampener on visitors out and about.
The customers who did come were pleasantly surprised by the experience of being served “real tea” in the proper tradition with home baked scones.
Teabags? Sacrilege! Styrofoam? Never!
We borrowed beautiful vintage tea sets from a friend.
Many commented that they felt spoilt and the highest compliment was from an English lady who said it reminded her of Home.
The highlight though, was the delight to observe a mother with her three sons.
It has become tradition for them to visit the garden and then share a special teatime. The boys would have been early teens and obviously enjoyed their mother’s company and the whole experience.
They shared a pot of tea – served in a beautiful antique silver teapot with delicate china teacups.
 I think the scones and cake were a bonus!
We spoke briefly about mothers taking daughters out to “play ladies” but how important it is to train young men to be gentlemen.
This mum is doing a fine job!
My daughter, her friends and I raised $1000 for the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia from our little endeavour.

 I have written more about that over here 

If you are the mother of boys – make time for tea. 
A little civilitea goes a long way.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

wedding snippets

I had so.much.fun fiddling with flowers for a wedding this week! 

  The first wedding I have been involved with in a flowery way. 

snippets of creamy photinia buds
'bubbles' magnolia blooms and buds

                              sweet peas & stocks mixed with Irish bells and Queen Anne's Lace                              

 blushing bride & jonquils with a couple of the last of the snowdrops tucked in 

and roses - of course!
photos taken by my daughter Hannah. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

planting time

It's time to tuck in some new little babies.

Fresh seedlings. Full of promise and potential

The earth here is del-ic-ious!
Truly - it is so good. We really are blessed to live here.
I pinch myself some days.
And I am very thankful.

I'm not that flash at straight rows, but they don't mind.
I think rain is coming to settle them in tomorrow. 
Perfect timing.

I am only a tiny little humble flower farmer.
Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm lazy!
I prefer to keep things simple and down to earth.
These flowers are out in the open. Vulnerable, yes, but 
I think they smell better out in the fresh clean air here at Ravensbourne.
Grown naturally out in the garden just like flowers are meant to grow. 
I am very aware of how fragile we all are. 
I can plant the seedlings, but only God can do the rest.
It makes me realise how very vulnerable we are to the mercy of God's provision and protection.
The day after I harvested last year's beautiful bountiful crop of flowers, we had a hail storm in the neighbourhood. 
My heart goes out to farmers.
Not only does nature assail their crops, but the majority of the money made goes into everyone else's pockets.
I absolutely love being a small spasmodic part of the Toowoomba Farmer's Market
They only kicked off one year ago. Three cheers for farmers' markets!
See you in the spring :)