Category Archives: Humour

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.

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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

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

 

 

Yummy Marshmallow Mud Toastie.

Easter is the perfect time for experimenting with marshmallows and chocolate. The oozier the better.

While I’m not sure whether Isaac Newton would agree, that placing marshmallows and chocolate in between two slices of brioche and applying heat and pressure constitutes a scientific experiment.

However, although he’s obviously not around to ask, I’m sure he’d be licking his fingers and declaring the results: “scrumidillyumptious”!

As for myself, I concluded that further experimentation is required.

marshmallow mud toastie

Ingredients

2 slices of brioche loaf (I get mine from Aldi)

Chocolate (I chose Cadbury Dairy Milk)

Marshmallows (I chose pink).

Here are the Basic Directions:

Place a single slice of brioche in the sandwich press for each person.

Arrange pink marshmallows and your choice of chocolate as desired on top of the brioche. You will observe in the photo below that I prefer a rather oozy, messy outcome. On the other hand, our daughter wanted to minimise the ooze and even placed hers in the fridge for a bit to firm it up a bit.

Cover with a second slice of Brioche (the lid) and close the sandwich press.

Remove toastie using lifter when golden brown and contents have melted. Watch out for hot melted contents  and the risk of burns.

I started out by simply melting Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate in between two slices of brioche.

That was just begging for a few marshmallows.

Finding that combination rather sweet, I added a few blueberries for a bit of tang.

I’m now planning to try a rocky road version with nuts and glace cherries to balance out the very sweet chocolate and marshmallows.

Personally, I can see the Marshmallow Mud Toastie satisfying those late night chocolate cravings without creating a huge mess.

Well, let’s just say the mess is contained to your face and fingers.

Of course, I understand that these innocent  Marshmallow Mud Toasties will have their critics. That puritanical do-gooder wowsers, will shoot them down. Slam their insane sugar and calorie content and the evils of “food therapy”.

However, personally I believe scoffing one of these oozy treats, is a hell of a lot better for you than some other cures for depression or a rough trot.

Therefore, I don’t believe I’m stretching the truth too far, to say these scrummy treats are actually “healthy”.

What do you think?

xx Rowena

 

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“Healthy” is all a matter of perspective and while they have their critics, retail and food therapy can be a lot better for you than some of the alternatives.

G-Gordon River Cruise, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day Seven of the A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we we’re leaving Ferndene in Penguin on Tasmania’s North Coast, and heading South-West to go on a scenic Gordon River Cruise, which will be departing from Strahan on the West Coast.  Strahan is 197.5 KM from Penguin and a 2.3 hour drive.

Map Penguin to Gordon River

“THE mighty Gordon River flows pure and clear from its source in Lake Richmond, a deep glacial basin way up on the precipitous eastern slopes of the brooding Mt King William.

It plunges down from the high country in a brawling, tumbling torrent, scouring dark tannins from the boggy buttongrass plains to emerge as black as billy tea.

It plummets in foaming cataracts through limestone gorges so impenetrably deep and dark that the river was once thought to vanish into an abyss of underground tunnels and ferocious chasms no man had ever seen.

In its 172km length, the Gordon is swollen by 25 tributary creeks and rivers as it descends almost 600m through a magnificent uninhabited wilderness of towering forests, ferns and emerald mosses.

On the gently sloping lower ground it becomes a sinuous serpent of a river, broad and ponderous yet powerful enough to carry enormous loads of honey-blonde shingle downstream to form the shallow beds of roaring rapids.

The Gordon has a higher catchment yield than any other Tasmanian river and by the time it reaches the sea at Macquarie Harbour it has drained an area of about 5000 sq km.

Unlike lesser rivers that take the course of least resistance and flow around the massive mountain ranges that block their path, the Gordon rips its way through the Permian rocks of the King William Range, literally splitting them apart.

After torrential rain, its awesome power develops a daunting deepthroated roar that reverberates like the thunder of great guns booming through the mist-muffled silence of the wilderness.

The World Heritage-listed South West Wilderness National Park is one of the wettest regions on earth, with an average annual rainfall in excess of 250cm.

On our journey upstream, though, during a dry spell, the river was as placid as a millpond.

Moving as if asleep, the cold, dark water slid past in majestic silence, its mirror surface broken only by the occasional splash of a startled platypus or the rippled rise of a rainbow trout.

From the moment we entered the river’s broad brown mouth, I confess I was in a state of transcendental bliss…”

http://www.themercury.com.au/lifestyle/tasweekend-ride-of-a-lifetime-on-the-magnificent-gordon-river/news-story/52011232f20952f6733bbaab0c5bcb56

My apologies.

Before you start getting too comfortable, I have a small confession to make.

We didn’t actually make it to the Gordon River Cruise, even though it was at the top of our Must See List.

Now that we’re back home, that seems like such a travesty. What went wrong? How could we possible miss it? After all, Tasmania isn’t such a big place and even if we didn’t have an itinerary as such, surely we’d at least make sure we crossed off all of the “must-sees”…prioritized.

Apparently not.

Moreover, while I’m on the subject of travel planning, I should mention that my father who is a seasoned, independent global traveller, draws his itinerary up on an excel spreadsheet and almost has the trip planned out down to the second. He has all his accommodation booked ahead…the works. He’s got it all sorted.

On the other hand, we fly by the seat of our pants.

Yet, you could also say that we “travel by feel”. That we sensed where we wanted to go, and if we wanted to linger longer, we could without being held hostage by the plan. Since we were in Tasmania for three weeks, it seemed like we had plenty of time to linger without having to rush and cram everything in. As it turned out, I don’t think you could ever spend enough time in Tassie. It might seem small but its layers run deep.

Above: Some of the places we DID experience in Tasmania.

Our plans were also governed by our budget and the fact that we could base ourselves with friends in  Devonport for the entire three weeks without paying for accommodation.  We  had packed our tents and fully intended to go camping, which also didn’t happen. With Geoff coming from Scottsdale in the North-East, we were always going to be focused on the North and East coasts and by the time we’d caught up with multiple lots of family and eaten our way as we went, we didn’t get anywhere near the West Coast.

So, I guess we’ll be spending a chunk of time exploring the West Coast the next time we go to Tassie.

Take it from us, Tasmania is never “done”.

What type of traveller are you? A planner or a pantser?

I’d love to find out more about your philosophies on how to travel.

xx Rowena

The featured image was sourced Gordon River Cruises and you can check out their website for further information: http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/

 

 

 

D- Doo Town, Tasmania.

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

Today, we are leaving Campbell Town and driving South to Doo Town, located at Eaglehawk Neck. While we could have gone to Devonport where the Spirit of Tasmania comes in or to Deloraine, I chose Doo Town due to its quirky, Australian appeal.

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A Fairly Typical Doo Town Fishing Shack: “Doo Nix”.

Located 79 km southeast of Hobart, Doo Town was established in the 1830s as an unnamed timber station which eventually developed into a shack community. In 1935 a Hobart architect, Eric Round, placed the name plate Doo I 99 on his weekend shack. A neighbor, Charles Gibson, responded with a plate reading Doo Me then Bill Eldrige with Doo Us. Eric Round later renamed his shack Xanadoo.[1][2] The trend caught on and most of the homes have a plate that includes the name Doo.

I first visited Doo Town on my first trip to Tassie in 1995.   Being a procrastinator, I’ve never forgotten “Gunnerdoo”. Indeed, it would be a very apt name for our current home, which is a renovating dreamer’s homage to an endless list of unfinished projects. Indeed, it has way too many applications to mention!

Anyway, here’s a few Doo’s…and no don’ts!

Hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Doo Town and I’ll be back to drive you to our next destination in the morning.

xx Rowena