Beauty and the heat

With temperatures being approximately 5-10 degrees (celsius) higher than average for November we’ve had an early start to summer. It is storm season so the potential for rain is good although much of the heavy rain that has fallen already this month has failed to appear over our suburban block. Despite the extreme heat the plants and trees in our garden continue to bloom, the magnolia flowers don’t last long though and my gardenias have all but disappeared, leaving only crispy and brown remnants among the foliage.

Each year I wait for our Poinciana tree to flower, the foliage is beautiful but I have been wanting to see red flowers flooding the tree since seeing how other trees in the neighbourhood look at this time of year. We came close last year however a hail storm shredded everything and we were left with very little of anything on the tree. Poinciana trees in flower scream summer to me, the red blossoms provide spectacular contrast to the garden and it is the perfect colour scheme for the festive season.

Here are just a few of the beautiful things in our garden, I’m so happy that the heat hasn’t destroyed them.

What bird is that?

Lately I’ve been seeing this little fellow wading through the mud at a nearby lake, so today I took my camera with me on our afternoon walk and was lucky enough to get a couple of photographs. Thanks to Google images I’ve been able to identify the bird as a Black-fronted Dotterel (Elseyornis melanops)The afternoon light and a ‘shady’ white balance setting makes the bird’s plumage appear more golden, but I think it is a good match :-)

47 sleeps ’til Christmas

Hard to believe that the year is almost over and that Christmas is looming. It has been such a busy year and so far the forecast for next year is not alot different, plenty to do and plenty of change. I love Christmas, I hate all of the rushing around and stress that it brings however all the worry tends to dissipate on Christmas Day when family and friends are together. My cousin N also loves Christmas, while I tend to be a bit of a minimalist N goes all out decorating her home and tree so when she came to stay recently a visit to the local Christmas Shop was a must.

The Christmas Shop is more like a warehouse, baubles, trees and lights adorn every inch of space and if you’re after santa suits or elf costumes there are plenty to choose from as well. Being the crazy dog lady that I am, the reindeer antlers for Maxi and Bundy were the first things that landed in my shopping basket. You have to admit, as embarrassed as our two black dogs appear, they really do look cute and the photos will look great on our family Christmas card :-). Our two black dogs always get presents from Santa, I even bought them stockings to put the presents in although Maxi won’t be getting any delicious treats this year, the last thing we want is for her to end up in hospital again.

It is too early to set up the Christmas tree, we always put it up on December 1st and then spend a weekend hanging up Christmas lights in our backyard. At the moment it is hard to imagine our yard decorated with lights, the heat and dry winds has turned our lawn brown and there are a few odd jobs around the house that are best done in the cool of the evening. I’ve always wondered what a white Christmas would be like, it certainly seems more festive when you see images of the Christmas markets in Europe and watch Christmas movies that are set in cooler climates.

How do you prepare for the festive season? Do you inflict costumes on your pets and buy them presents?

Snapshots of a quick trip to Sydney

Flying into Sydney felt like coming home. Fourteen years have passed by since my time in Sydney but everything is still so familiar. I was in Sydney for two nights for work reasons yet lucky enough to score some extra time in the city for shopping and catching up with a dear friend. Sydney Harbour is a fabulous spot for people watching, the many cafes and bars provide the perfect reason to stop awhile and enjoy the view.

Pitt Street mall is shopping heaven, new shoes and perfectly fitting black pants are easy to come by as is delicious Thai food at Assamm under the Queen Victoria Building. Many shops have Christmas decorations on display, the most wonderful of them all vein the Swarovski Christmas tree decorated with beautiful, sparkling crystals.

Leaving Sydney makes me a little sad, it has been so much fun shopping and sightseeing with my dear friend J and I love being in the city. An electrical storm hit Sydney airport on the way home, delaying the flight somewhat and giving me time to share these snapshots with you.

Have a great weekend!

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Always something to learn

Today I spent the afternoon at a Blue-Dog Photography class on Mt Tamborine, it was the second half of a workshops recently cancelled due to bad weather and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. We traipsed through the rainforest to a rock pool and waterfall, the path well worn making it reasonably easy to spot snakes sleeping in the sun. Mt Tamborine has a number of national parks that are perfect for short or long walks, it is an area of the Gold Coast that I never tire of although if you visit the main street on a weekend you might wonder why. The main street is known as Gallery Walk and it is extremely popular with tourists, lots of shops and lots of cafes.

Surrounding the waterfall is an environment that is home to glow worms, you can’t see them during the day which fools people into thinking that nowhere is out of bounds as they clamber over the rocks towards the waterfall. Glow worms are extremely sensitive and their environment easily made uninhabitable by hapless humans, our teacher Danielle lets visitors know that it is a ‘no-go zone’ because it is obvious that they cannot read the signs.

Waterfall, Mt Tamborine

Waterfall, Mt Tamborine Waterfall, Mt Tamborine

After struggling with my tripod, my shaking hands and my camera settings I finally succeed in getting some shots that I am happy with. Learning how to use the manual settings on my DSLR is a slow process, but the class has helped immensely and actually having the time to practice is even more important. Today we played with white balance to create a different mood with our images and a slower shutter speed helped get that dreamy effect I love to see with waterfalls, using a remote shutter release helped with the shaky hands. Local wildlife showed up for a brief period, this really tested the brain and gave me the chance to see if I could capture a creature without resorting to the P setting on my camera. I’m pretty happy with the result :-)

Water Monitor, Mt Tamborine