Tag Archives: museum

Cuckoo Clock House…Friday Fictioneers.

As soon as he walked in, Jan was at peace. The boy with the cuckoo clock heart, had finally found his tribe in this museum of intricately carved clocks. No longer an outsider, they even shared the same heartbeat.

Unable to afford a human heart, his father had found a mysterious cuckoo clock at the local market, which he prayed would save the life of his beloved son. Yet, although the operation was a success, there was a strange side-effect. Dvorak’s American Symphony played like a broken record in his head.

At last, he understood. It was all about the house.

….

Welcome to another contribution for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s photo prompt is © J Hardy Carroll and was taken at the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, Iowa. The museum building was the residence of Antonín Dvořák during the summer of 1893 where he composed his String Quartet in F (also known as the “American Quartet”) and his String Quintet in E-Flat. You can hear it Here

 

 

Oops! Tasting More Than A Little Chocolate.

While I was madly collecting brochures on board the Spirit of Tasmania, one really stood out and captured my attention. It was (drum roll)… The House of Anvers. Serendipitouslythis was only 5 minutes drive from the ferry terminal and also very close to where we were staying!!

Well, you might ask who Anvers was, and what was so good about this house. What was the big attraction?

Two words sold me on this place: “chocolate factory”.

It turns out that Anvers is another name for the Belgium city of Antwerp. Proprietor, Igor Van Gerwen,  studied at the Institute of Foodstuffs in Antwerp and was trained by Roger Geerts, the world renowned confectioner and author of “Belgian Pralines”. So, that’s the connection.

Ever since I first saw Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, let’s just say I’ve had my dreams, fantasies and most of them can’t be mentioned here. Just like cheese, chocolate can make you do all sort of things, which are completely out of character. Indeed, they can take you from being a law abiding citizen and throw you straight into the “criminal class” with no returns.

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Another place I’d like to call home. Does anyone have any shrinking solution?

Like Ashgrove Cheese, the House of Anvers has free tastings, although it’s much more limited. We were able to sample both dark and milk chocolate buttons and three types of fudge. The one which captured our attention in a rather ravenous wolf kind of way, was Fudge D’Anvers Butterscotch. Yummy!

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Our son swore blind this was one piece of Butterscotch Fudge.

Indeed, this Butterscotch heaven again stretched all my restraint beyond breaking point. Having already gone across to the dark side, this time I didn’t care if I got caught. I couldn’t stop eating that fudge.This time, however, I did notice a sign and I wish I’d photographed it. It clearly stated something about leaving some for someone else.

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Perhaps, I’ll need to put him in here when we open up our last packet of Butterscotch Fudge.

Absolutely smitten, we bought two boxes of it to take home. One’s already been eaten…a sad casualty of it’s own beauty. It didn’t even get the chance to leave Tasmania, before it was gobbled up by this gang of desperadoes.

We also bought a curious looking chocolate, which we still haven’t tried as yet. This is called Fortunato No 4 Peru. It’s a  68% Organic Pure Nacional and is genetically certified to be “Original Cacao”.  The pure Nacional Cacao was thought to be extinct in 1916.  Later on Criollo and Foresterra varieties were and are being sold as Nacional; they are not!!!  The Cacao beans were discovered 10 years ago by Brian Horsley and Dan Pearson in the Maranon Valley in Peru.  They have been genetically certified as the original cacao by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The beans are grown at 3250ft and produce purple and, unique to this variety, white beans.

Brian Horsley has set up farm and still works with the farmers to produce these exquisite unique cacao beans. The beans are shipped off to Switzerland and made into couverture chocolate using traditional roller conching methods. Anvers Confectionery has the exclusive rights to be able to introduce this chocolate into the Australian market.

“In my 30 years as a Chocolatier I have never experienced a more rewarding chocolate than the Fortunato No. 4 Peruvian Nacional. The complexity and balance of the flavour profiles satisfy my tastebuds. The social responsibilities and sustainable farm practices engaged in the making of this chocolate, satisfy my conscious.”

— Igor Van Gerwen

However, the House of Anvers also has a fascinating chocolate museum. They have an informative, beautifully displayed range of antique chocolate moulds, chocolate tins and advertisements from around the world and I think this was the first time I’d ever seen a cacao bean. They also tell the story of the discovery and development of modern chocolate, taking you on a journey from the Aztec Indians, to when chocolate was only consumed as a liquid in the 1700’s, on to Henry Nestle who mixed the chocolate with milk (in 1875), onto modern chocolate.

While touring the museum, I found out one of the distinctions between good and fine chocolate.

By the way, I stumbled across this comment on their website:

“Igor (Van Gerwen) has found the Tasmanian cream and butter to be the richest in flavour of any in the world, ideally suited for truffles and fudge. He believe the reason for this is that the pastures in Tasmania’s pure environment stay green almost all year round, eliminating the need to feed the dairy cows on grains.

I found that quite interesting because I have found Ashgrove Cheese particularly creamy and obviously their milk has these special qualities.

Being known for my weird sense of logic, I can somehow justify consuming vast amounts of chocolate and Butterscotch Fudge in the interests of gaining an education.

Besides, like the Ashgrove Cheese, this chocolate is so good, I’ll indulge now and repent at home. I think I’ll be sentenced to a diet of lettuce leaves by then.

Sweet Dreams!

xx Rowena

Even the garden is magic!

Postcard from the Workshops Rail Museum, Ipswich, Queensland.

If you haven’t been to the Workshops Rail Museum, then perhaps you’ll have trouble grasping the magic… especially if you’re not a “train person”.

Year after year, we faithfully go back. We can’t stay away…even though we actually live more than 1000 kilometres away! Perhaps, that gives you some idea of just how special this place actually is!

Mister has found a few signs.

2013 Mister has found a few signs.

Whether you are a train person or not, steam trains have a magic appeal. For some strange reason, we still fall in love with that old chugga chugga toot toot and that puff of smoke rising from the boiler. Yet, I still don’t know why they call it the “romance” of steam. There’s actually nothing romantic about the stench of burning coal. Coal dust isn’t very pretty either. It’s actually filthy, stinky stuff which does terrible things to your lungs and the environment.

And always light, aerial, underneath

Goes the elate metre of her wheels.
Steaming through metal landscape on her lines…
Of phosphorus on the tossing hills is white.
Ah, like a comet through flame she moves entranced
Wrapt in her music no bird song, no, nor bough
Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal.

An excerpt from The Express, by  Stephen Spender

Yet,  our love affair with steam trains lives on.  When any little kid pretends to be a train, they still pretend to be a steam train, not a modern locomotive and the great popularity of the Thomas the Tank Engine series also testifies to the continued popularity of steam.

The train,
A rage of smoke, a laugh of fire,
A lighted anguish of desire,
A dream
Of gold and iron, of sound and flight,
Tumultuous roars across the night.

An excerpt from The Bridge,  John Redwood Anderson.

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But the Workshops Railway Museum isn’t only about steam trains and aside from special days, you can’t actually ride on one. The museum covers the history of Queensland railways from its beginnings to the present and includes a number of diesel and electric engines as well as historic memorabilia.

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The Workshops Rail Museum http://www.theworkshops.qm.qld.gov.au/   is located in North Street, North Ipswich and is just 40 minutes by car from the centre of Brisbane and 70 minutes from the Gold Coast. It is open from 9.30AM to 5.00PM daily and is closed Christmas Day, ANZAC Day and Good Friday.

Taken on the Workshop Tour

Taken on the Workshop Tour

The original railway workshops were built at Ipswich in 1864, close to the location of the first railway in Queensland. They soon became overcrowded and between 1884 and1888, new buildings were constructed about 1 km north of the original workshops. In 1900, construction of new railway workshops began on the current site. The original site ceased operation in 1907. In its heyday the workshop employed 3,000 people.

The  Workshops were also an important part of the Australian war effort during WWII, when it employed over 3,000 people on site. Some of the windows are still blackened out to protect these top secret operations.

The museum itself opened in 2002.

Miss checking out Sir Topham Hat

Miss checking out Sir Topham Hat

On this visit, there was a special Thomas the Tank Engine theme for the school holidays. Engines were dressed up as characters from the series and there was story telling with Sir Topham Hat (AKA the Fat Controller) as well as colouring-in and other activities. Our kids had outgrown Thomas this visit but have enjoyed it in the past.

There is a children’s play area at the back of the museum called the Nippers’ Railway. A “Nipper” was the youngest member of a railway gang. The nipper did odd jobs around the camp to help the men who built and maintained the railway line. The Nipper’s Railway has a play train track set up and the kids can sit in a wagon and an adult can push them around the track. There is also a train station, a railway crossing and signals. The kids can ride trikes around the track and wear safety vests and very much look the part of a railway ganger. There seems to be something new every time we visit but I have very fond memories of the kids dressing up as police and fire people. They have always had a wonderful time and it’s also been a chance for Geoff and I to relax while the kids wear themselves out. The Nippers’ Railway is my sentimental favourite.

The kids in the Nippers' Railway 2007

The kids in the Nippers’ Railway 2007

Miss driving in the Nippers' Railway play area in 2007 aged 1.

Miss driving in the Nippers’ Railway play area in 2007 aged 1.

Mister’s favourite is the model trains. He says they are fun to use and likes that “it’s actually about Queensland.” The model train layout is big and impressive. Naturally, it is set in Queensland and includes palm trees and Queenslander houses. Being from NSW, that also makes it more of a novelty.

Model Railway 2007

Model Railway 2007

There are a number of opportunities where you can pretend that you are actually driving the train using computer simulation programs. They are great fun.

Mist3er "driving " a train.

Mister “driving ” a train.

You can also go on guided tours of the operating workshops. There are two different tours available: Blacksmiths Shop Tour where you see a real modern blacksmith at work and the Steam Shop Tour where you’ll see real Queensland Rail workers maintaining and restoring trains from of the Queensland Rail heritage train fleet. You need to wear enclosed footwear on these tours.

Miss driving the train 2013

Miss driving the train 2013

My only reservation about going to the Workshops Railway Museum is allowing  enough time to really experience all the exhibits. If you have read my previous post, you will understand why an hour just isn’t long enough to satisfy a 3 year old boy or any other train enthusiast. There is so much to see and experience, I would strongly recommend going for the day or if you live locally, becoming a member. It is a particularly good way to keep little people happily occupied. We have always loved it!!

Anyway, we had a wonderful time and, of course, we wished you were here LOL!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Time to go home. 2010.

Time to go home… 2010.