Monthly Archives: April 2017

V- Tasmanian Vineyards.

Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging A -Z April Challenge.

As you could imagine, finding something for the letter “V”, can be quite difficult. However, while we were in Tasmania, we actually visited a VINEYARD, Wines for Joanie, in Sidmouth. According to Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies, we’re were in good company:

“The latest tourism figures show that more than 262,000 visitors called in to a cellar door during their stay in Tasmania last year, 21% of all visitors and an increase of 22.5% on 2015.”

So, today we’re driving from Ulverstone via the Batman Bridge where we spent ANZAC Day, and heading for Sidmouth, 35 minutes from Launceston in the Tamar Valley.

While we’re getting there, I thought I’d also let you know that Tasmania has four designated wine trails:

However, I should warn you that if you’re any kind of wine connoisseur or expert, I’m not the most appropriate tour guide. I don’t really drink wine. Indeed, I don’t like most wines, unless they’re really sweet and I used to be known to add Diet Coke to port in my university days. While Geoff does enjoy a bit of wine and has been nurtured by my father who is an absolute wine connoisseur with a very well-developed palate, his mother was a card-carrying member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. So, our expertise on the wine front is exceptionally limited.

“I can certainly see that you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret.”

― Basil Fawlty, “Fawlty Towers”

However, I do have my uses and, therefore, make a great designated driver. Well, somewhat good, because I still want to have a taste.

Strangely, I enjoy all the pomp and ceremony of a wine tasting. Moreover, being a lover of history and people, I am also interested in what possessed someone to turn an apple orchard into a vineyard and pin all their hopes and dreams in what to me, seems like a very risky venture. Why not become an accountant? (not that I followed that “guaranteed path” either!!)

I thought this, blurb from another Tasmanian vineyard, Sinapius, summed this up pretty well:

“Sinapius is about being; one of a kind, butting the trend, forging our own path, and not conforming. So who would be crazy enough to plant vines at 7700 to 11110 vines per hectare, with a fruiting wire at 40cm above the ground, and in a cold challenging climate such as Tasmania…..

We are!

With a true passion and respect for the environment, our wines are aimed to reflect the ancient soils from the region, each season, and the uniqueness of our special site in Piper Brook, Tasmania. We are not winemakers at Sinapius – we are wine growers as for us, there is no separation between vineyard and winery. Each vine is treated with the individual attention it deserves and provides us in return with a small yield, but with maximum intensity. With minimalist winemaking intervention, each wine represents a true expression of our terroir.”

Another thing I love about vineyards, is the relaxed, beautiful scenery where you could have a couple of glasses of wine, cheese and bickies, and simply fall asleep basking in the muted sun.

That’s if I wasn’t darting all over the place taking photos. You know me. My eye rarely falls asleep, especially travelling. We have more stop-starts than a learner driver.

Anyway, as I said, today we’re off to Wines For Joanie. However, out of all of Tasmania’s vineyards why  are we going there?

Well, the answer is simple. My mother’s name is Joan and when she was younger, she was known as “Joanie”. So, when we spotted the sign while driving from Devonport to Scottsdale via the Batman Bridge, we had to stop and buy her a bottle. To be perfectly honest, we were going buy a bottle no matter what, but, we enjoyed our tasting and bought a bottle for Mum and for Dad. Don’t ask me what we bought. My Dad’s the wine connoisseur, not me. Indeed, he considers my wine education an epic fail and he now refuses to even pour me a glass of wine, because I never finish it. I can have “some of Geoff’s”. I was much more interested in photographing the tasting, the former apple packing shed and their cottages. Wow! I’d love to stay there.

As an aside, have you ever wondered who writes wine reviews? It seems to me that most, if not all of them, are written by experts with very refined palates. That’s all very well for their own. But what you’re average Joe or Joan who doesn’t know riesling from chardonnay?

Moreover, why do wine reviewers always have to use such ridiculous language? Surely, their English teachers must’ve castigated them for regurgitating the thesaurus, just like mine did?

Whatever happened to the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)?

Why don’t you ever read: “This is vinegar. Best drizzled over hot chips. Stop being such a cheap skate and buy something decent next time”. “More floral than a bunch of roses”. “Contains the ashes of my mother-in-law. Strain before use.” “More oak than an oak tree.” “Worse the cough syrup”? “The best thing since rocket fuel”.

Or, perhaps I’ve just tasted some funny wines.

I like how Paul Coelo put it:

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”

What about you? Have you sampled any Tasmanian wines? Or, perhaps you’re from the industry and could add something useful to my mumbo jumbo? You’re more than welcome to add even lengthy comments as I am well and truly out of my depth.

xx Rowena

PS: I was literally about to click on “post” when I had another look at the Wines for Joanie’s web site and read their story. They have actually posted a lovely “video” about their story, telling why they bought the vineyard and I chuckled to read that Prue is actually an accountant by trade. Anyway, I know you’ll love seeing this and my kids who love vlogging and have been telling me to post video, will think I’ve actually listened! The Story Behind Wines for Joanie. This really should go at the beginning but this was when I found it.

References

http://winetasmania.com.au/

https://www.winesforjoanie.com.au/

http://sinapius.com.au/

U – Ulverstone: Tasmanian Light Horse Memorial.


Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. As you may already know, we’re Travelling Alphabetically around Tasmania. Much of the details and the photographs in this series, came from trip to Tasmania in January. This was a family holiday to show their kids where Daddy came from, but it also came to connect us with Geoff’s late father and his family ties throughout Northern Tasmania. Due to the alphabetical nature of this challenge, we have skipped some of Tasmania’s better known places and landmarks, and gone where the alphabet takes us.

Map Ulverstone to Devonport

That is how we’ve ended up in U for Ulverstone today.  Ulverstone is on the mouth of the Leven River, on Bass Strait 21 kilometres (13 mi) west of Devonport and 12 kilometres (7 mi) east of Penguin. Penguin, by the way, is where Geoff’s Dad was born and raised and it’s also where his mother died when he was only nine years old.

For those of you who might not be aware, being the 25th of April, today is ANZAC Day.  Rather than explaining what ANZAC Day here, defer to the Australian War Memorial: https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/

So, we will be attending the dawn service in Ulverstone at the Cenotaph.

light_horsemen

It is quite apt that we’ve come to Ulverstone on ANZAC Day, as it is the site of the Tasmanian Light Horse Memorial. This acknowledges Ulverstone’s pivotal role in the formation of the Light Horse in Tasmania.

In 1899, Colonel Legge, the Commander of the Tasmanian Colonial Military Forces requested that the Tasmanian Government should raise a Reconnaissance Regiment to support two Tasmanian Ranger Infantry Units. The Tasmanian Government  granted the request and Colonel Legge selected the district of Ulverstone to form the mounted unit. This district was selected because Colonel Legge noted that the farmers were prosperous and there were many fine young men in the area and the horses were of a high standard. http://www.lighthorse.org.au/resources/units-in-service/22nd-light-horse

With the advent of World War One the 12 LHR was renamed the 26th Australian Light Horse Regiment (26 LHR). This unit provided officers, men and equipment to form a Tasmanian Squadron for service in World War One.”C” Squadron was posted to the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment (3LHR) that was being raised in South Australia. This first AIF unit served for seven months at Gallipoli before joining the Australian Mounted Division in Palestine where they served with honour until 1918. The 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, including the Tasmanian “C” Squadron cleared and held the hills to the right of the line during the last great cavalry charge at Beersheba.

Major James Norbert Griffin

Uncle Jim

Geoff’s Great Uncle, Major James Griffin, served in this C Squadron  3rd Regiment Light Horse, enlisting on the18th August, 1914. He was 24 years and 9 months old and a farmer from Dunorlan, near Deloraine. Later, his brother Daniel also joined the Light Horse. Both of these men returned, but so many did not. Such as Gunner Robert Ralph French, his Great Uncle of his Mum’s side, but still known throughout the family as “Nanna’s brother”. In WWII, two of Nanna’s sons served, thankfully both returned home but her nephew was Killed in Action.

Lest we forget.

My thoughts and prayers today are for those who have lost someone close to them through war. Or, have also survived the aftermath of these horrors, after service people returned home with severe PTSD. Geoff’s aunt talked to me about how women were encouraged to help the men settle in back home and in a sense “re-civilise” them, which was mighty unfair leaving women and children at serious risk of emotional and physical harm, something which really has been swept under the carpet and is only starting to be addressed with our current generation of service people and much more needs to be done.

Lest we forget!

Blessings,

Rowena

A link to a previous ANZAC Day post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/our-anzac-pilgrimage/

The Villains of Lower Crackpot.

Read this first: Visiting T- Tazmazia & Lower Crackpot.

Then, the photos speak for themselves!

We  should’ve headed the warnings:

And then we got caught!

Yes, we definitely got so much more than we bargained for visiting Lower Crackpot, but at least the food is good.

xx Rowena

T- Tazmazia & Lower Crackpot.

Welcome to Day 17 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. Today, we’re driving from Salamanca Place in Hobart via Sheffield to reach Tazmazia, intriguingly located in the town of Promised Land. Tazmazia is not only home to a giant hedge maze filled with all sorts of signs, jokes, the proverbial fork in the road and the “throne”, it also houses the Village of Lower Crackpot and the Embassy Gardens.

DSC_9125

To be perfectly honest, I feel quite speechless when it comes to describing Tazmazia. I know there’s a hidden message in there somewhere. Something beyond the multifarious messages you’ll read as you traverse the maze. A je ne sais quoi beyond humour in the miniature village, which reawakens all your childhood dreams of waking up in fairyland.

Yet, there’s also a shiver, multitudinous question marks and recognition of the very clever works of satire which poke at our political and social entities. Along way from art for art’s sake or a pure escape into fantasy, if you open yourself up to these deeper messages, you’ll be encouraged not only to think but perhaps also to act. Respond. Make a difference…or even build a new world.

The Maze

The Village of Lower Crackpot

“There is such a place as fairyland – but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”
L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

“First, however, she waited for a few minutes to see if she was going to shrink any further: she felt a little nervous about this; ‘for it might end, you know,’ said Alice to herself; ‘in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I should be like then?’

Alice in Wonderland

The Embassy Gardens

After being dazzled by Tazmania itself, I noticed its creator, the Laird of Lower Crackpot simply sitting on a bench outside the shop. This could be one of the advantages to reaching places on closing. You can get a few insights behind the scenes as the place unwinds, starts to go to sleep.

DSC_9471Me being me and having the opportunity to meet Tazmazia’s creator, I had to ask him the inevitable: “Why did you built it?” He explained how he liked building things and using his hands and one thing lead to another. He also told us about how he had this guy come through who said he really envied what he’d done. How he’d been able to create his own town from scratch. He asked him what he did for a crust and the man replied: “Town Planner”. Ah! I could just imagine his frustration!

That reminds me of another bonus about travelling around Tasmania, most of the businesses and tourist attractions are owner and family run. This means that you have a good chance of meeting up with the brains and personality behind it all, which for me makes for a much more intimate and meaningful holiday experience.

How did you find our trip to Tazmazia? Have you ever been there yourself or perhaps to somewhere like it, although I sincerely believe this place has to be a one off and absolutely inimitable!

xx Rowena

Driving to Promised Land.

Welcome to Day 17 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

 

Today, we’re driving from Hobart to Tazmazia, which is located in Promised Land, a town located on Lake Barrington (Tasmania), Promised Land is 200km from Hobart, and about 80 km south of Launceston. The postcode is 7306.

DSC_9064

When the car heard us mention all the driving we’ve been doing,she went crackers. You sods with all  your “are we there yets?”Get real! You’ll just sit there, while I do all the work!

As you know, we’ve been doing a crazy amount of driving around Tasmania. However, we’ve been rushing so much, that I’ve barely had time to share scenery along the way.

So, before we head off to Tasmazia today, we’re having a horse stop beside the road and taking a look at Mt Roland.

Horses are in my husband’s blood. Both sets of great Grandparents bred horses and his Great Great Uncle, Daniel Griffin was a journalist who not only wrote a lot about horse-racing, he knew the horses and their pedigrees inside out. Another Great Great Uncle, James Newton was very involved in horse racing and cousins upon cousins were involved pacing, breeding, racing…you name it.

That said, it’s can be easy to forget that not so long ago, horses were commonplace before advent of the car. It wasn’t just his family.

Anyway, we had to stop when we spotted these horses beside the road. They were so lovely and friendly.

On that note, we’d better get back in the car and head up the hill to Tazmazia and the Promised Land.

xx Rowena

Art: When the Creator Becomes the Created…

Last week at the Royal Sydney Easter Show, my daughter and I crossed to the dark side and had our caricatures done.

For anyone else, this would simply be  a bit of fun, a memory to take home and it wouldn’t also turn into a soul searching analysis of what it’s like to be created, not creating. Of course, yours truly had to analyze the whole experience. Pull it apart and put it back together again…give or take a missing piece or two.

Obviously, you’ve experienced my photography. However, you might not be aware that I did the photography and publicity for my kids’ school for 6 years and gained a lot of experience photographing people.  I know what it’s like to peer into a face, observing details, responding to a smile, a twinkle or even the withdrawal of acute shyness to draw someone out. I know how to work with all these personalities to create a story in 6 x 4 and hopefully bring out their best.

However, it’s a rare moment that I’m in front of the lens. Or, as in this instance, at the mercy of the cartoonist. Sure, he might use pen, ink and crayons but he has an inbuilt lens. You have to have a good eye. Be an excellent reader of people to pull off any kind of caricature. After all, you’re not just reflecting the surface, but peering deeply into the pond needing to fish out hidden gems in a very short time.  BTW, although I’m usually behind the lens, I’m actually quite an extrovert and all the world’s my stage. I have no trouble performing for the camera, or the artist.

Surprisingly, it was actually my daughter who mentioned getting our caricatures done. I wasn’t entirely convinced.

You see, I’d been forewarned. While I was backpacking through Europe as a 22 year old, I caught up with Mum and Dad in Paris and had my portrait done outside Notre Dame. Being a serious, philosophical poet, I insisted on a more serious, reflective portrait. I did NOT want to look like an airhead. Ever since, my mother, who was standing back watching the proceedings with abject horror, has wanted to get that portrait fixed to show “my lovely smile”. I didn’t know what she was talking about until a few years ago and now I agree. “Smile, Rowie. Look at the birdie!” On the same trip, two of my friends decided to get their caricatures done in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. They were dreadful and I don’t think those sketches have even seen daylight. My two very attractive friends, had nearly been turned into trolls. Of course, I photographed their reactions in situ. What a friend?!

So, when it came to getting our caricatures done at the show, I wasn’t naive. The cartoonist was warned! Yet, I became so relaxed with him, that I forgot to take my glasses off until it was too late. That is very unusual. Indeed, I’d be surprised if any of you have actually seen photos of me wearing the glasses I wear all the time. The glasses which are all but glued to my nose. I’m terribly short sighted and now near-sighted, and am becoming somewhat thankful for the glasses I’ve always despised.

artist

That’s not to say I was entirely at ease in my new role. Not that I’m a control freak. However, I did feel more than just a little curious watching him sketch away, especially when passers-by stopped and inspected OUR portraits in detail when WE couldn’t see it. Well, as usual, I exaggerate a tad. We did get to see quite a lot of the work-in-progress and I know both my daughter and I were noting which pens he used for what. She has a good chance of doing the tools justice, while I dream. I do a much better job writing about drawing (and dancing, skiing, playing my violin and making Nigella’s Nutella Cake) than actually doing it. However, I am starting to wonder about this life as a voyeur…Isn’t life meant to be lived?

However, of course, you also learn a lot watching…including the remote possibility that I might be a control freak after all!

That’s why I wondered whether the artist would ruin it by adding colour and whether the finished product would self-destruct when it went through the laminator, even though it was meant “to protect it”.

However, the thing about control freaks is that we like control for a reason. That when we don’t have control, things can go wrong. Get destroyed. Just like our caricatures when that blasted laminating machine turned us into a piano accordion. Been there, done that myself at home. That’s why I wasn’t sure about the laminator. That’s why I become the control freak. Things conspire against me.

caricature finished with Graeme

Wow! We were so impressed with how we looked. If you’ve ever watched the quintessential Australian movie: “The Castle”, you’ll know this is “heading straight for the pool room.”

It was at this point, that being a creator myself made such a difference. As much as I was very disappointed to see our portraits seemingly destroyed when they looked SOOOO good, I knew what it meant for Graeme to watch as his creation almost met its death. From this point, we were no longer artist and client. We were united in our desperate efforts to salvage the artwork. Performing CPR, twice we fed it back through the very laminator which almost destroyed it, largely melting out the creases. He said it was his best work of the day and that he’d struck a chord with us. Got a vibe. I know what that’s like and what his creation meant to him. It was no longer just a piece of paper. He’d poured heart and soul into each and every detail and you look at our larger than life smiles, and a real sense of joie de vivre really springs from the page. To have that destroyed in front of your very eyes, was horrible. Sure, much worse things can happen, but it’s a hard thing for a creator to see their creation munched up like that. Yet, like the subject, the phoenix has largely risen from the ashes and is about to sojourn underneath  our exceptionally think Webster’s Dictionary, which is the width of two city phone books…HUGE and weighs a tonne!

By the way,I’d like to give a huge shout out to our cartoonist…Graeme Biddel at http://www.caricature.net.au

How have you felt being the subject, instead of the author? The creation instead of the creator? Or, perhaps your creation has been lost in some way? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Love & smiles,

Rowena