The year that was.

January

A relatively quiet month punctuated by time spent cuddling gorgeous shelter dogs waiting for their forever homes. Bundy celebrated his 9th birthday and unbeknown to us Australia Day was the last time we took Maxi to the beach, she loved splashing around in the surf and afterwards would sleep for hours.

February

A python and lots of cute puppies plus a lunch date with friends by the water. A short, sweet in stinking hot month.

March

Maxi’s 15th birthday is celebrated, Easter fun and games with the fur kids and a new car.

April

Sadly, we said goodbye to my father in-law who had been unwell for a couple of years. Even though he had been married to my mother in-law for a few years he was entrenched in our family and is greatly missed.

May

A much anticipated trip to Scotland. Traveling with a group of artists on a paint-along with my art teacher for two weeks was an amazing experience and provided me with lots of inspiration for my art and further travel in the UK.

June

Always lots of dogs waiting at the Animal Welfare League, I love my Sundays with them and it is hard not to fall in love with all of them.

July

Commissioned to do a portrait of Rumpole the chocolate lab in pastel, stalked by a pigeon on our morning walk and an art class focused on drawing birds. Finally winter seems to have arrived bringing with it some spectacular sunrises and the fur kids are loving their new blankets.

August

The weather starts getting warmer and Hubby celebrates his birthday with traditional fire making and drinks with family and friends. Walks with Maxi are getting shorter and she happily shares the rug with Bundy.

September

Losing Maxi broke my heart, such a vibrant and happy girl. Gone but never forgotten.

October

After losing our dear old girl, time with friends was especially important.

November

The festive season started early at work, our team heading to a winery for a long lunch to celebrate a good year with good people. There are always dogs waiting to be adopted and every Sunday I take photos of them to raise awareness on social media in the hope that it will assist in finding them a family faster. I also finished another commission, Honey the cat, sibling to Rumpole.

December

A quick trip to Newcastle to visit my brother and his family as well as meeting my new niece. So nice that the two families live in the same city, makes it easy to fit in quality time with all of them. Christmas was perfect, good company and good food. Now I am in need of a break, some quiet time at home after a busy and emotional year.

Happy Easter from two black dogs

Tomorrow is Easter Saturday, our little home will be overflowing with guests and the bowl of chocolate Easter eggs on the sideboard will diminish rapidly. It has been pouring down with rain since Wednesday afternoon but it didn’t stop me from trying to get the obligatory shot of our two black dog wearing bunny ears. Bundy will gladly follow a treat and sit on wet grass, posing for the camera, Maxi was not so obliging.

Wishing you and those you love a very Happy Easter, from me, Maxi and Bundy 🙂

Maxi the black dog wearing bunny ears.
Maxi the reluctant easter doggy
Bundy the black dog wearing bunny ears
Bundy the serious easter doggy

Wishful thinking

Another hot and humid day is looming, summer is definitely making her presence felt after several years of wet summers and lower temperatures. In an effort to cool down I am thinking of colder climates and wishing I could click my heels and transport myself and the doggies to the beautiful Lucerne in Switzerland. We were in Lucerne prior to Easter in 2011, the days were lovely and mild allowing us to fully enjoy all the delights that the old town had to offer.

Maxi on the mend

Maxi recovering on her bed
Maxi recovering on her bed
After spending two nights in hospital Maxi is now at home with us, she seems quite bright and her appetite has returned. Although the initial diagnosis was unclear, a second ultrasound revealed that Maxi does indeed have pancreatitis. It is worrying, but at least we know what it is and how to look after her, it also makes me feel better knowing that she hasn’t eaten something she shouldn’t. Maxi has a pain patch to make her comfortable and is only allowed bland, low fat food in small batches for the next few days and for the long term she will remain on a low fat diet. Bundy will be eating similar food, he has a tendency to be a chunky dog and being 7 he is more at risk of developing pancreatitis as he gets older. Most of the time our dogs get fed healthy meals of lean mince and dry biscuits but we have indulged them a litte with juicy treats on occasion, no more of that and it probably wouldn’t hurt us to reduce our intake of fatty foods as well 🙂

Thank you so much for all the good wishes and virtual hugs, it means alot to me and if Maxi could read I know she would be really chuffed.

Maxi waiting patiently for breakfast.
Maxi waiting patiently for breakfast.

As you can see Bundy is really excited to have Maxi at home
As you can see Bundy is really excited to have Maxi at home

A really sucky start to Easter

Maxi the dog out for a casual stroll on the beach

Easter has not started well for us, what was going to be a weekend of gardening and family has now turned into a waiting game. Our dear old Maxi girl has a pain in the tummy, not the normal gastro bug she gets from a change in diet or swimming in dubious water but the kind that requires strong pain relief, ultrasounds, a night (or two) in hospital and possibly x-rays. Needless to say we’re very worried and so is the vet. It isn’t pancreatitis and nor does she have growths or tumour, but her intestines, bladder and bowel are full and there isn’t a poo in sight. Maxi isn’t the type of dog to eat just any old thing, however we’ve had some disturbing incidents of late whereby the dogs have discovered both cooked and raw bones in the yard. Our dogs aren’t allowed bones because Bundy guards them ferociously so someone we don’t know is either throwing bones over the fence deliberately or our neighbours are putting too much oomph into their throws when they give their dogs bones. I prefer to think that it is the latter, whatever the cause, we remove them as soon as we find them.

At 13 years of age, surgery to remove an obstruction is not something we want to put Maxi through. Apart from this incident she is in such good health that to consider the alternative breaks my heart, it is not somewhere I want to go.

As you can guess, I’m not the happiest of campers at the moment so please forgive the melancholic nature of my blogging of late and thank you for the love and support you’ve shown me so far.

I wish you all a Happy Easter xo

Easter by candlelight
Easter by candlelight

A quiet, relaxing Easter this year

Easter 2011 was celebrated in Varenna on Lake Como with a large bag of chocolates purchased in Lucerne, Switzerland, the weather was perfect and we spent our time in this beautiful little village cruising the lake and wandering through narrow streets and well tended gardens.

 

In 2012 my husband’s little sister and boyfriend came to visit and we drove inland to participate in an early morning Easter egg hunt at the family home of my other sister-in-law. With three little boys and three slightly larger ones there was plenty of action in the form of backyard soccer, water fights using Nerf guns and wrestling. Later in the afternoon we played poker under the shade of a huge tree and enjoyed a glass or two of bubbles, a fire was lit as the sun set and the little boys were hypnotised by the flames. It was a beautiful time spent with our family, lots of laughter, good conversation and tasty home cooked food.

 

This year we’re staying home, hanging out with the dogs, doing a bit of gardening, some cooking, hopefully take a few photos and there is a huge list of chores to complete, but I’m not complaining. Since November last year I have been acting Director for our unit during a period of uncertainty and change, although the experience has been mainly positive and relatively problem free, my head was starting to hurt and I was desperately in need of a good chunk of downtime. My acting role ended yesterday, next week I start a slightly different job and I’m looking forward to the challenge but most of all, I’m ecstatic to have a few days off to do the things I love and to have the time and energy to get my hands dirty.

What are you doing to celebrate Easter this year?

Easter in Varenna

Sun setting over Lake Como
Sun setting over Lake Como

Summer is coming to an end, in about 6 weeks we will be celebrating Easter and it will have been 12 months since we were in the small, serene town of Varenna on the banks of Italy’s Lake Como. I am still processing all the photos I took and attempting to collate them into appealing, memorable photobooks using Blurb’s BookSmart software, it is taking forever because I am easily distracted by looking at destination websites that relate to the photos I am working on. At the moment the photos we took in Varenna are on my screen, pictures of the lake and the towns that reside on its shores and it got me thinking, I haven’t really posted many photos of our stay in Varenna and now is as good a time as ever. See, easily distracted 🙂

Varenna and the Hotel Eremo Gaudio was our home for 5 nights, we wanted to avoid larger cities during Easter and it was a good excuse for taking a relaxing break from the constant moving and sightseeing. Varenna is a small town, the shops still shut in the afternoon and the majority of visitors at this time of year appear to be Germans and Italians. Our hotel is on the edge of town, it has spectacular views of the lake and next door is a cemetery, from our balcony we can also see the gardens of the Villa Monastero. Breakfast is provided, it is a feast of cereal, bread, boiled eggs, cheese, meat spreads, fruit, yoghurt and pastries, you can dine outside on the terrace or in the breakfast room where most guests ate on cooler mornings.

During the day we would walk along the esplanade, eat gelati and enjoy a glass of wine with lunch – usually a panini with salami and cheese. We did venture to other towns, catching the ferry across to Bellagio and Menaggio where we could do some more walking, eating and drinking, it was very relaxing. One day we caught the train to Milan, we walked from the station to the Duomo, it was a long walk and we didn’t realise that in order to see all the designer shopping we should have turned left long before we reached the main piazza. Milan is probably a really great city to explore, but with limited time we only caught a glimpse and we were happy to get back to our quiet little village.

While in Varenna we dined at the Albergo del Sole Restaurant and the Victoria Grill when we had tired of picnics of salad, sausage, cheese and crackers. The food was good and simple: veal, steak or lamb and a side of grilled vegetables which was greatly appreciated plus half a litre of wine for 6 euros and it was very drinkable. The town seems empty at night, that is until you head out for dinner or a drink and you see other tourists and hear the different accents and languages, I think we were the only Aussies though. The nicest coffee we had was at the Villa Cipressi, the restaurant was closed but they were happy to serve us coffee, sitting outdoors we were able to watch as a storm rolled in over the lake, thankfully missing us completely.

Enjoy the photos 🙂

Easter decorations at the at the restaurant in Villa Cipressi
Easter decorations at the at the restaurant in Villa Cipressi
Lake Como ferry
Lake Como ferry
Varenna
Varenna
Varenna at night
Varenna as the sun sets
The cemetery on the hillside
The cemetery on the hillside
Varenna by lamplight
Varenna by lamplight

Lucerne and Mt Pilatus

I want to share a few of my photos taken during our short stay in Lucerne, Switzerland during Spring 2011. All of my photographs can be found on my smugmug gallery but not everyone can be bothered looking through hundreds of images.

One of the most photographed sites in Lucerne (or Luzern) and possibly Switzerland, is the old wooden Chapel Bridge, a covered wooden footbridge across the Reuss River.

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
Chapel Bridge with Mt Pilatus in background, Lucerne

The markets are a real treat to see on a sunny day, the river is lined with market stalls and at Easter time there are many stalls selling gifts and decorations to celebrate the upcoming event.

The markets, Lucerne
The markets, Lucerne
Chocolate Easter Eggs
Chocolate Easter Eggs
Tulips on market day
Tulips on market day

In addition to wandering around Lucerne’s old town, we took a trip up to Mt Pilatus via the bus and cable car, the views are spectacular on a clear day or so I am told, it was cloudy most of the time with temperatures of minus 3 and 4 degrees Celsius.

Cable Cars to Mt Pilatus
Cable Cars to Mt Pilatus
Church on mountain top
Church on mountain top

Every now and then the sun would come out, blue skies would appear and the temperature would rise making our day on the mountain even more spectacular.

Hotel on Mt Pilatus
Hotel on Mt Pilatus
View from Pilatus
View from Pilatus

At night the city was just as beautiful, the streets were crowded with people looking for somewhere to eat and tourists with cameras took prime position on the bridges to capture the reflection of the lights on the river and lake.

Chapel Bridge at night
Chapel Bridge at night