Category Archives: Quotes

Dog, that is NOT your bed!

You provide your dog with a comfy dog bed and blankets in the house, the choice of two kennels outside, not to mention a possie lying on the grass in the midday sun and what does she do, she sets up residence on my son’s bed as if she owns the place.

As you’re probably aware, our dog is called Lady. Being a dog, she doesn’t have Google access to nut out the difference between being a “Lady” and being a “Princess” or even, (heaven help us) “THE Queen”. However, there’s no doubt that she firmly believes she’s holds prime real estate in Burke’s Peerage.

Or, maybe, she’s just dyslexic and thinks she’s God.

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Lady is “simply irresistable”.

Knowing the presumptiousness of that dog, I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s definitely working towards world domination. Or, at least, domination of our world.

So, it was that I caught her sleeping on my son’s bed yesterday, and not for the first time either. However, this time I managed to secure photographic proof.

Caught her in the act.

“I don’t really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I’d like to come back as my daughter’s dog.”

Leonard Cohen

Dogs are curious characters and I never tire of watching and loving them and forgiving their indiscretions in a way you’d never do for a person. No doubt, that’s the reason they have those huge puppy dog eyes. Master manipulators who fly under the radar, they know it only takes one look to be forgiven…or to receive a snack.

We are but putty in their paws.

Has your dog been up to any mischief or adventures lately? I’m thinking I should turn this into a regular feature…Dob in your dog. 

Hope you’re having a great week.

xx Rowena

PS In case you’re wondering, Lady is a Border Collie x Cavalier. She’s totally black aside from a little patch of white on her chest and on her paws. She has floppy cavalier ears and very silky cavalier fur. She’s a very pretty dog.

PPS: Lady has requested an upgrade after seeing this French mansion: https://wikr.com/rsyt-auyt-man-stumbled-upon-abandoned-mansion-countryside-blown-away-saw-inside/?utm_source=desc&utm_medium=bestbot1

Out of the Goldfish Bowl.

“We have all been hypnotized into thinking that we are smaller than we are. Just as an undersized flowerpot keeps a mighty tree root-bound or a little fishbowl keeps goldfish tiny, we have adapted, adjusted, and accommodated to a Lilliputian life. But place the same tree in an open field or the fish in a lake, and they will grow to hundreds of times their size. Unlike the tree or goldfish, you are not dependent on someone else to move you. You have the power to move yourself. You can step into a broader domain and grow to your full potential.”

Alan Cohen

It’s hard enough to get my kids to smile for the camera. So, I was really stoked when this Japanese carp stared right into the lens, and almost magically, I even managed to capture the ripples in the pond.

Have you ever heard that the size of  goldfish, depends on the size of the environment.

“Most times a person grows up gradually, but I found myself in a hurry… Hoping to find an answer, I uncovered an article about the common goldfish. “Kept in a small bowl, the goldfish will remain small. With more space, the fish will double, triple, or quadruple in size.” It occurred to me then that I was intended for larger things. After all, a giant man can’t have an ordinary-sized life.”

John August

A pinch of food for thought.

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

Searching for “O” – A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 14 of the Blogging A-Z Challenge.

No matter what your theme might be, almost all of us have a letter we find difficult, challenging or outright impossible during the challenge. For me, “O” has proven quite difficult.

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Breathtakingly beautiful…Mt  Ossa.

Looking at the map, Mt Ossa would make an obvious choice. With an elevation of 1,617 metres (5,305 ft) above sea level,  Mt Ossa is Tasmania’s tallest peak. From the summit, it offers a 360-degree view of Tasmania’s north-west, with visibility of nearly 30km on a clear day. Mt Ossa is located in the famed Cradle Mountain National Park and may be reached via a week-long hike on the Overland Track, or via the shorter 36 km Arm River Track.

However, unlike our last stop at The Nut in Stanley , there is no magical chairlift to the summit. Nor is it an easy stroll. Rather, you have to HIKE and it’s one of those most dreadful of hikes too, where you have to take everything in and everything out. Indeed, it makes camping seem pure luxury.

So, as much as I might enjoy roughing it and communing with nature, this is way beyond my capabilities and so we’ll be reading about Mt Ossa in  Australian Geographic  instead. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and being airlifted from remote areas couldn’t be cheap.

Now, that Mt Ossa’s been scratched, I thought we’d head over to Orford on the East Coast to watch the sunset. Orford is a village 73 kilometres north-east of Hobart and centred on the mouth of the Prosser River, with stunning views across to Maria Island.

Black Swan Lake

Black Swan Lake, near Orford.

After stopping at Orford, we headed up to Swansea where we saw the most stunningly serene sunset, that I just had to share.

Swansea hills“And yet day and night meet fleetingly at twilight and dawn,” he said, lowering his voice again and narrowing his eyes and moving his head a quarter of an inch closer to hers. “And their merging sometimes affords the beholder the most enchanted moments of all the twenty four hours. A sunrise or sunset can be ablaze with brilliance and arouse all the passion, all the yearning, in the soul of the beholder.”
― Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember

Swansea 2

I took these photos on our trip round Tasmania in January when we were driving back from Port Arthur to Devonport. We took the coast road as far as Swansea and I’m not exactly sure where we went from there. However, it was this night drive which caused our tragic run-in with a wallaby and how we discovered Campbell Town has a 24 hour public toilet and were very thankful to have some Ashgrove Farm Cheese and crackers in the car when everything was shut. That was a late night home.

If there is one thing you take home from this tour around Tasmania, it’s the importance of taking time out from the frenetic madness of the everyday and to spread your wings into the great outdoors all around you, while being with those you love. Cherish these moments and not only take the photos, but also print them off and put them somewhere you can see them. Through this trip, we all really come to appreciate the importance of family, knowing your family’s story beyond names and dates, but try to walk in their shoes and know the stories, which have helped make you who you are.

Looking forward to seeing you back again tomorrow.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

The Inner Tree, Port Arthur.

“The Tree and the Reed”

Well, little one,” said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot, “why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your head boldly in the air as I do?””I am contented with my lot,” said the Reed. “I may not be so grand, but I think I am safer.””Safe!” sneered the Tree. “Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow my head to the ground?” But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.Obscurity often brings safety.”
Aesop

There was such a mixture of grief and intrigue when I spotted this chopped down tree at Port Arthur. After walking through the bush admiring and photographing the soaring blue gums and almost feeling one with them, I was grieved to see something so beautiful destroyed.

“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.”

Khalil Gibran

Yet, fortunately it’s not often that I get to see inside a tree. Despite loving trees, I still have that child-like fascination with counting the rings and peering inside this hidden, inner zone. Is this where trees store up all their secrets? Where they write down all the stories they hear whispered by the wind? Part of me, believes it is and I wish I could translate them all.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Up the Garden Path, Port Arthur.

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Although I’d never heard about the stunning gardens at Port Arthur before our visit, I was happily led up the garden path. Indeed, the gardens were a serious, botanical feast…especially for a brown-thumbed sod like myself unable to convert our sandy soil into a floral paradise.

It’s hard to comprehend that stunning, specialist gardens were growing in such a brutal, violent penal settlement. However, line most things, one thing led to another.

In 1849, several scientific groups joined together to form the Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany and the Advance of Science, the first Royal Society outside of Britain. Members had connections with Kew Gardens and other nurseries. This society  took responsibility for managing Hobart’s Government Gardens, later to become the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
Among Royal Society members were numerous Port Arthur administrators and officials including Commandants William Champ and James Boyd. Many plants were ordered from England. Cuttings, tubers, corms, rootstock and seeds were also collected by plant enthusiasts on the eight-month journey to Van Diemen’s Land. The genes of some of Port Arthur’s plants map the ports of call in South America, South Africa and India. Boyd alone ordered hundreds of plants, including dahlias, marjoram and fruit trees.

 

As early as the 1830s ornamental trees were planted at Port Arthur. By 1838 the avenue leading to the Church from Tarleton Street was lined with young trees provided by the Governor of the day, Sir John Franklin. In 1846-47, Commandant Champ developed Government Gardens as an ornamental garden primarily for the enjoyment of the ladies of the settlement. The gardens were much admired and reached their peak in the late 1860-70s. After the closure of Port Arthur the gardens were neglected until reconstruction began in the 1990’s.

‘The usual afternoon walk was to be Government Cottage Garden where the officers’ wives, their children and nursemaids used to assemble. They were charming gardens. Lovely green lawns and gay flower beds – even a fountain in the centre – all beautifully kept.’

E.M. Hall, 1871-7.

 

The plants at Port Arthur have been catologued and their stories reproduced in a stunning online catalogue. I found it rather intriguing to read how seeds, cuttings and bulbs from exotic species found in Britain, India, South Africa and more arrived onboard ships in Tasmania, finding their way into the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hobart as well as these gardens in Port Arthur.
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I might not know the botanic name for this rose but I did manage to photograph it. I could curl deep inside and wrap myself up in that petal swirl.

These days it is impossible to conceive the trafficking of plant materials across international borders when you can’t even bring plants, fruits and a swag of other items into Tasmania from the Australian Mainland…at least, not as your average Joe. Quarantine is very important in Australia and Tasmania in order to keep out exotic diseases and  pests.

“Port Arthur is beginning to look springlike. The oak trees are bursting into leaf and there is a profusion of bulbs in bloom in the paddocks which at one time were old gardens.”

The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Thursday 30 August 1934 p 5.

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Anyway, I thought I’d share a few stories about the various plants at Port Arthur.

Quercus robur (English oak, common oak)

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The trees that surround Government Gardens and line the avenue up to the Church are mostly English oaks. This is the most common forest tree in Britain.

The botanic name robur means ‘strength’ in Latin, and refers to the hard timber for which the trees have been valued since prehistoric times. Sir John Franklin, the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land from 1836-43, provided the Port Arthur Penal Settlement with young oak, ash and elm trees, some of which may survive today. Deciduous European trees were some of the earliest brought to the new colony, bringing a sense of comfort and familiarity in an otherwise foreign landscape.

Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)

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A native to western and south western Europe, including the British Isles. Commandant Champ wrote a letter to his mother requesting her to collect the seeds of wild flowers when walking in the woods and send them to him.

 

Lupinus polyphyllus   (garden lupin)

This plant was discovered in the north-west of North America in the 1820s by Mr David Douglas, who also introduced the Douglas fir to Europe.

Seeds of ‘blue and yellow lupins various’ were being advertised for sale by Mrs Wood in the Hobart Town Courier by November 1829:

‘This splendid lupine is now become so common that we can hardly conceive how gardens must have looked without it, though it is not yet quite twenty years that seeds of it were first sent to this country…’

Melianthus major (honey flower)

A common plant in colonial gardens, Melianthus would have been admired for its unusual leaves and growth habit, as well as for its large red flower spikes, unlike any plant found in traditional English gardens. It is native to South Africa, and was collected by sailing vessels on their way from England to the Australian colonies and other trading ports.

Myosotis sylvatica (forget-me-not)

The forget-me-not is so common in Tasmanian gardens that many people consider it weedy and tend to pull it out. A common flower in woodlands throughout Britain and Europe, this would have been one of the early introductions to the gardens in Port Arthur.

The following poem appeared in an April edition of the Launceston Courier in 1829, and captures the sentimentality that people at this time had for the forget-me-not:

There is a flow’r I love so well

That grows within my garden plot

My willing pen its name shall tell

The lovely blue ‘forget-me-not’

‘Tis not within the rich man’s hall,

But near the honest peasant’s cot,

Where grows the lovely flow’r, we call,

The modest blue ‘forget-me-not’.

It does not boast a rich perfume,

The rose-bud’s glory ‘t has not got;

It does not want a warmer bloom,

The brilliant blue ‘forget-me-not’

Through life I’ve lov’d this simple flow’r

Nor ever be its name forgot

In prosp’rous time or adverse hour

The humble blue ‘forget-me-not’

And should I die an early doom

Let no false tear my mem’ry blot;

But let there spring around my tomb,

The azure blue ‘forget-me-not’

Salix babylonica (weeping willow)

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Weeping Willow at Port Arthur 2017.

The weeping willows that once grew in this garden, and in many other sites throughout Australia and Britain, were taken as cuttings from a tree growing on the grave of Napoleon Bonaparte on the island of St Helena. A quick growing shade tree popular  for ornamental plantings, willows have also traditionally been used medicinally and for basketry.

In 1845, the Commandant of Port Arthur investigated which Tasman Peninsula outstations had suitable conditions to plant willows for basket-making, and supplied these with cuttings from his own garden.

Rosa chinensis (China rose)

China roses were introduced into the west towards the end of the 18th century, and enabled the many cultivars of rose available today to be developed. China roses have the quality of repeat flowering, although they bloom most heavily in the spring.

The roses growing in Government Gardens include ‘La Marque’, a variety released in 1830 with large, fragrant, white flowers.

Solanum aviculare  (kangaroo apple)

Thomas Lempriere, the Commissariat Officer at Port Arthur from 1833-48, wrote in his journal about the culinary value of various native plants. He stated: ‘the Solanum…or kangaroo apple, is a very handsome plant and the fruits, when perfectly ripe, pleasant to the taste’. –1838

In 1828 the kangaroo apple was featured in an  article in the Hobart Town Courier, which commented:

‘…we have had occasion, this season particularly, to remark the great luxuriance of what is called the Kangaroo apple, or New Zealand potato, a species of Solanum common to this country and New Zealand… a beautiful evergreen shrub, with dark verdant leaves… It is covered with small round apples, which when ripe eat exactly like bananas, and a sort of yams grow at its root, it is both ornamental and useful.’

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed our meanders through the gardens at Port Arthur. Adding a few details to my photographs, has become quite a long and interesting journey, even for this serial plant killer.

If you’d like to check out the Port Arthur Gardens’ Plant Guide, please click: here.

xx Rowena