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.

My first time…photographing a wedding

On Friday I spent the day photographing the wedding of a good friend, it isn’t something I normally do because I am not a wedding photography. This I did as a favour and because the couple did not expect or want formal, studio quality photographs – if it wasn’t me taking the photos it would have been my husband and he has even less experience. I have photographed a wedding once before, but it was as a second photographer – more of a sidekick really, to a much more experience photographer who was happy to have me along.

The nerves kicked in early in the morning and hung around until the ceremony, afterwards it wasn’t so bad and that has more to do with the fact that the bridal party were wonderful, they had fun, they laughed and smiled and not once did they appear to be tired of having their picture taken. It was one of the most enjoyable, relaxed weddings I have ever been to and also one of the smallest, making it easier to get a group shot at the reception and to make sure that everyone had their chance to have a photograph taken with the happy couple.

The bride and groom already have printed copies of the shots that I’m sharing with you, they’re off on their honeymoon today and will visit family overseas so I wanted them to have something to take with them. Is wedding photography something I would want to do more often, probably not, the stress would kill me however, it is wonderful to experience such a joyful occasion and to be able to capture the moment for friends.

High tea sugar rush

High tea menu of beverages

Recently I attended a High Tea birthday celebration at a lovely little place called Tea and Niceties in Eagle Heights on Mt Tamborine, I wasn’t sure what to expect having never experienced high tea before but thoughts of cucumber sandwiches and pots of Earl Grey tea crossed my mind and I don’t like either. You can imagine my delight when I walked into the tea room to see chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, silverware with vintage cups and saucers, silk flowers and decorated sugar cubes, so very pretty and girly and probably not a place that the average Aussie male would frequent. The list of teas ranged from the typical English Breakfast through to Chai, Japanese Lime and Ginger teas and for two hours we sipped tea and ate dainty treats that included cucumber sandwiches, savoury muffins, scones with jam and cream and cream filled cakes. All of the food is made on the premises and you can purchase bags of each tea to brew at home, as well as other homemade items and gifts such as preserves, rose soaps and teasets.

It was a sugar laden affair, at the end of two hours I felt as though my eyeballs were swimming in my head, experiencing a sugar rush ‘high’ that would result in me ‘crashing’ an hour or so later. Still, it was a really delightful afternoon and the affair allowed me to catch up with some lovely people whom I hadn’t seen for quite a while.

Summer wine

Sirromet Winery
Sirromet Winery

When friends come to visit it is nice to take them somewhere other than the shopping strip along the beach known as Surfers Paradise and the theme parks, two of my favourite places to go are Mt Tamborine and the Sirromet Winery. Yesterday was a little warm to be wandering around Mt Tamborine so we spent a few hours enjoying the food, wine and music at Sirromet. Queensland wines don’t have quite the same reputation as those produced down south in the Hunter Valley or Barossa Valley but don’t let that put you off, their fruity white wine and sparkling rose are nice and light for a summer afternoon of chatting with girlfriends.

The day was a typical hot and muggy Queensland summer day, thankfully the muggy didn’t eventuate into a huge storm and bucketloads of rain – we’ve had enough of that. The cellar door at Sirromet has many shaded areas, not to mention umbrellas and outdoor tables scattered around the green, we made ourselves at home near the cellar door and enjoyed a pinot gris while munching on cheese, crackers, fruit and nuts. If you’re really keen you can do a wine tour and if your budget stretches further than ours then lunch at Lurleens Restaurant is a must, the food is delicious and beautifully presented (if you’re into that sort of thing).

German style bratwurst with fries and salad
German style bratwurst with fries and salad

Every weekend the winery provides music as entertainment, it is a popular venue for hen’s parties and birthday parties and sure enough we hear a rendition of Happy Birthday sung as the band takes a break. The cheese and crackers were good, however the smell of food cooking tantalises our tastebuds and we  order lunch. My friend and I can’t go past the German style Bratwurst on a bread roll, it is a huge meal and there is no way we’re going to be able to eat it without cutting up the sausage and roll. Not caring whether the wine matches our food we share a bottle of sparkling rose, bubbles are always welcome when a group of girls get together and they match our mood which is more important at the time.

I’m driving and so cannot have more than 2 drinks during our time at the winery, by 2.30pm all of us were feeling the heat and thanks to having a full belly and a drink or two, we were also a little sleepy. Sirromet is located on a hill and to one side is a lovely shaded picnic area, for us, the trees provide  a great place to stretch out and cool down before getting into a hot car for the drive home. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday: tasty food, nice wine and great company in a peaceful location.

Sirromet Winery

Sirromet's Cellar door and outdoor area
Sirromet's Cellar door and outdoor area
The vines
The vines