My 11 year old self’s bucket list
This post was inspired by Nathaniel Boyle’s interview with Robert Reid, episode 152 on Nathaniel’s travel podcast, The Travelers. Robert Reid is currently National Geographic’s Digital Nomad and during his interview he talks about travel, why and how people travel, what they’re naturally drawn to and what his bucket list might have looked like as an 11 year old. The interview caused me to ponder the things that would have been on my 11 year old self’s bucket list and whether they have influenced my interests and travel preferences.
A tent for Christmas! My brother and I set for camping in the backyard.
Sam’s 11 year old self’s bucket list
I wanted to be a vet or a flight attendant, sadly I was not academically suited to being a vet and being a flight attendant required at least one language in the eighties and a more outgoing personality. Although I achieved neither of these career goals, volunteering at a shelter and working with dogs feeds my soul and provides me with great joy and satisfaction. What I loved about the idea of working as a flight attendant was the travel, seeing and exploring the world. As children my brother and I were always exploring the countryside with friends, on foot or on horse back. When I got a tent for Christmas we camped in the backyard, except for the lack of proper toilet facilities I used to love camping. As an adult travel is still important to me, even though I don’t travel overseas as often as I would like. Taking a day or a weekend to visit local areas of interest, travelling interstate for a long weekend and taking the occasional overseas trip helps to satiate my hunger (just) for travel and adventure.
At school and at home we watched historical dramas and documentaries on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) many of which focused on British history, the unearthing of the ancient ruins of Pompeii and mysterious deaths of explorers. To this day I still love to watch programs that dig deep into the history of Roman and British history. Visiting Europe and the UK in 1999 was my first opportunity to wander the ruins of Pompeii and it was mind blowing. To be standing in a forum that was bustling with activity almost 2000 years ago and look up to see Mt Vesuvius, the volcano that ended it all, was a dream come true. Wandering ancient streets, imagining how people lived and what the cities looked like fascinates me. When I travel, I like to explore and understand what it is I am seeing and experiencing. Hubby loves to sit at a cafe and people watch or wander aimlessly but for me, the excitement is in discovering the places and things that I have seen in art books and documentaries or read about (a long time ago) in history class.
Save the whales! Save our koalas! Save the baby fur seals! They were things I was passionate about as a child and nothing much has changed. My childhood was spent in the country, living on dairy farms, visiting stables, riding my horse Rio through the bush and herding sheep on horseback in New Zealand. I cried every time one of my pets died and watching movies like Lassie Come Home and the Yearling always brought tears to my eyes. Now I choose not to watch those movies, and I will stop to help an animal in distress or seemingly lost. During a recent heatwave I left containers of water out for the birds and wildlife and made sure the bird bath was always full. I don’t understand how our government can ignore the plight of our native wildlife and I cannot support politicians that believe climate change to be a furphy. On my adult bucket list are trips to Antartica, Patagonia and Alaska, I want to stand and stare in awe of those places before they are destroyed and before we lose the beautiful creatures that inhabit that environment. Funnily enough, I am not a vegetarian even though I probably should be given my love for animals of all shapes and sizes.
Art and photography, drawing and taking pictures. I cannot remember a time when I did not want do either. A collapse in confidence saw me take a break in drawing and painting for a couple of years yet the desire still burned within. My sketch books were full of horses and princesses, I loved drawing beautiful things and still do. The photos I took were numerous, my Mum was horrified at paying for a roll of film to be developed only to find that there were umpteen photos of my friend’s kittens. Very few of them were in focus. My camera always goes with me when I travel, capturing colour and light is what appeals to me most and as with my drawing, beautiful subjects always get my attention. Once I am home my photos provide me with an extensive source of inspiration for my art, pastel illustrations of Venice, Tuscany and Sorrento are stacked in my office and this year Scotland will feature as I recreate the memories of my 2016 holiday in Fife and the Highlands.
For the most part, I have stayed true to my passions with the exception of my current career path. Whilst I am not working in an area that is related to any of my interests, my job does enable and afford me the luxury of pursuing them in my spare time. Would my 11 year old self be happy with my life choices? For the most part I think yes, but she would probably be disappointed that I don’t go camping anymore.
Wordless Wednesday: Happy
Keep your dog safe at Christmas
Our dogs have always been part of the fun at Christmas, presents from Santa and a special meal on Christmas Day. Everything from a chunky bone to roast chicken or beef, not to mention a few treats such as pigs ears or kangaroo chews. There are however, many ‘people foods’ that dogs shouldn’t be given at Christmas time and if you’ve got a puppy then there are also inedible objects that should be kept out of reach like Christmas tree decorations and pine cones. Below is a handy checklist from PuppySpot and it provides basic advice on how to keep your safe pet although I would add ham or ham bones to the list of things you shouldn’t feed your dog.
Merry Christmas and stay safe!
Out on the farm
My brother recently bought 100 acres of bushland in the Hunter Valley, he and his partner want to build a house there and raise their beautiful daughter in the country. He refers to the land as ‘the farm’ although it is far from it at this point in time. Much of land cannot be cleared for environmental reasons however this isn’t a huge deal because my brother doesn’t have any plans to raise cattle, sheep or grow crops. Obviously the previous owners have done some work on the property, farm equipment has been left to rust and there is a gate growing out of a tree. The land is in the middle of wine country in the Hunter Valley which aligns nicely with our desire for a winter retreat where we can alternate between visiting vineyards and enjoying local produce while sitting by an open fire.
I had the pleasure of seeing the property a couple of weeks ago and there is plenty of work to be done in order to make the land habitable for a family. Patches of land have been cleared previously providing nice open spaces and views of neighbouring properties, my brother and a mate of his have also spent time tidying up the area where they plan to build their house. Walking through the bush takes me back to my childhood when we used to explore the countryside looking for the perfect swimming hole. On one occasion we made fishing rods out of bamboo and tried our luck in the creek, the fish were much smarter than us. As kids we never really worried about snakes or eels or getting seriously hurt, but I was very wary of coming across a snake whilst walking through the bush on my brother’s property.
Camera in hand I was fascinated by tiny purple flowers, and funny looking nuts on a native tree. My fingers were crossed in the hope that I would come across wildlife of the furry and feathered kind. With a creek running through one end of the property and a dried creek bed at the other we were guaranteed to see something and sure enough we saw a few kangaroos from the car, as well as a goanna and a couple of rabbits. One kangaroo scared the bejeezus out of my when it leapt out of the bush to the left of me and bounded away, madly scrambling to get my camera ready I thankfully secured one shot which made my day. Even as an Australian I still get excited by seeing our native wildlife.
Without rain the bush is looking dry and the grass feels crunchy underfoot. Closer to the creek there is more colour, the water providing sustenance for plants as well as a variety of creatures that we hear but not see as they scamper away and hide. I envy the life that my brother and his family will have, living away from the maddening traffic and being able to look at the window and see sights that we grew up with. I don’t envy the work or the size of the mortgage that it takes to own such a property but I admire my brother for the commitment he has made in following a dream. I hope that one day I have the courage to do the same.
Sunny afternoon in St Andrews Botanic Gardens
St Andrews, Scotland is well known for it’s golf course however there is plenty for a visitor to do if they’re not interested in chasing a little white ball around a paddock. There are castle and cathedral ruins overlooking the sea, as well as delightful little cafes and cobblestone streets. After a morning sketching a church and doing a little shopping in the centre of St Andrews we headed out of the centre to the Botanic Gardens for a picnic lunch and a few hours of quiet in the gardens.
The Botanic Gardens aren’t huge however they are full of brilliant coloured blooms in Spring, some of which I had seen before such as Rhododendrons. The sun was shining and local students appeared to be making the most of the warmth, lying on the grass studying or just ‘hanging out’. As a small group we scattered quickly after lunch, each of us going our own way and doing whatever we wanted. I chose not to sit and draw, and instead kept my camera at the ready because there were so many flowers to see and paths to explore. A couple of ducks caught my attention at one stage, the female splashing around in the water while the male seemed more content to strut around the pond. A heron also became the focus of my attention, I stalked him/her all around one pond trying to capture them in flight however I didn’t not have a fast enough shutter speed and most of the action shots are fuzzy. Big fat bumblebees are always a delight to see although the most amusing creatures in the gardens were not alive, they were carvings and sculptures dotted among the trees. The red squirrel sculpture was as close as I got to this endangered creature, I didn’t even see the more common grey squirrel during my time in Scotland.
As I wandered around the gardens I ran into several of my fellow travelling artists, most of them thoroughly enjoying the peaceful surrounds and the opportunity to draw something other than a church or castle. Hopefully the many photographs I took will serve a inspiration for my artwork in the future. In the meantime I hope you enjoy my walk through the garden.
Koalas, Kangaroos and Echidnas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
A visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland is highly recommended, for children and the young at heart it is a fabulous way to spend a day. As soon as you walk through the entry gate you will smile at the sight of koalas sitting among tree branches, munching away on eucalyptus leaves or having a nap. These beautiful creatures, like so many of our native flora and fauna are victims of progress, their natural environment destroyed by developers and their lives threatened by domestic animals and traffic. The wildlife sanctuary does a wonderful job of raising awareness of the plight of our native animals, educating children and caring for the sick and injured at their wildlife hospital.
There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the animals. For a fee you can have your photo taken cuddling a koala or you can buy food for the lorikeets and kangaroos and feed them by hand. We didn’t do any of that, however we did venture into the kangaroo enclosure and took great pleasure in patting young kangaroos while they were dozing in the sunlight. The largest and oldest of the male kangaroos was taking a nap near the gate, at 8 years old he has fathered plenty of kangaroos, the second male is 4 years old and not quite as large although one of the volunteers told us that his nickname was Fatty.
My friends and I spent a day there recently and we loved every minute. When our legs grew weary and our stomachs hungry we hopped on the people mover train and enjoyed a ride through the park and selected a lunch venue. The sanctuary’s rainforest environment is filled with the sound of birds calling and at times, howling dingoes, the train passes by the enclosures of kangaroos, wallabies, water birds and the Tasmanian Devil. Cameras and phones in hand we took hundreds of photos of creatures we don’t often get to see as well as a few that we will never see in the wild because their numbers are low and they are on the endangered list. I regretted not taking a camera with better zoom than my iPhone, the digital zoom on an iPhone really isn’t great and many of my photos look more painterly than photographic.
Wordless Wednesday: Butterfly wings
Wordless Wednesday: Beetle love
Black Wolves art installation – Turin
On our first full day in Turin we stumbled upon the Black Wolves art installation at a University building off Via Po. I’m not 100% sure what it was about so I photographed the poster onsite and hope that one of you may be able to translate it for me. It was an amazing experience to be able to wander through the artwork and to also look down upon it from a higher level of the building. Some of the wolves looked intimidating and you would think that seeing blood dripping from their teeth would frighten small children but the few we saw seemed more fascinated than scared.