A Short Trip to Melbourne

At the beginning of November, my family and I went down to Melbourne for the wedding of my first cousin, Carlos – my Dad’s brother’s oldest son.  It was a great opportunity for many things: for my husband to meet my incredibly large extended family, some who could not come to our wedding; for my family to go away for a holiday together for the first time in something like 20-something years and the final reason, it’s possibly the last time for a long time Hubby and I will be able to go on a holiday for a while as we’re in the process of buying some land and signing up a builder for our first home 😀

What Sydney looks like from above. Top: Port Botany. Bottom: Clovelly.

The night before the wedding we went to a pre Wedding BBQ, it was a good opportunity for Hubby to learn a little of the cultural traditions that happen in Timorese (and Chinese Timorese) weddings.  When we got married, we didn’t partake in any of the Timorese cultural traditions, so Hubby was relieved to find out he didn’t have to procure a ‘dowry’ for me.  My Uncles (well, not actual uncles ie my parents brothers, but in our culture, male relatives around the same age as my parents and the same generation) duly informed Hubby he ‘missed out’ on having to find a goat, suckling pig and cow at the right size and weight to give to my parents to ‘buy’ me.  I will now never let him forget how easy he’s got it 😀

 

Offerings to the deceased

As my Dad’s side of the family is Chinese Timorese, they still practice a lot of the cultural traditions which include participating in honouring our dead relatives with offerings of sumptuous food such as a whole roasted suckling pig and duck, wine and tea, ‘spirit money’ and the burning of joss sticks.

Offerings to the deceased

After this ceremony, it was onto the Tea Ceremony.  In this ceremony, tea is served by the Bride and Groom to their elders.

Bride and Groom serving tea

Their elders – grand parents, parents, aunties and uncles, older siblings are seated as the Bride and Groom offer them tea, they take a sip, return the cup to the tray and give the Bride and Groom a gift (money or jewellery) in the traditional red envelope.  If the gift is jewellery, it’s put on the Bride straightaway.

Parents of the Groom putting on their jewellery gift on the Bride

Once the tea ceremony finished we all moved onto the church for a traditional Catholic wedding followed by the wedding reception at a function centre.

While at the reception, I saw some gorgeous light fittings that I wanted to try my Bokeh technique on.

Bokeh Monsters!

The wedding featured a HUGE 7-tier wedding cake, biggest cake I’ve seen in a while!

Woah!

It was made by one of my Uncles and I found out later that only the bottom tier was cake, the rest was fondant covered foam as no fresh cake would last the amount of time it took him to do the decorations plus it would be very costly to transport from Sydney to Melbourne.

Sugar flowers

Love that pipe work!

 

Once the wedding festivities was over, the rest of my family members had to return to Sydney for work, but Hubby and I decided to make the most of being in Melbourne so we hired a car and planned a road trip – first down to the Mornington Peninsula then onto Phillip Island.

But before we got out of Melbourne we decided to check out Melbourne Museum.  The museum is fascinating, there was so much to see and unfortunately we didn’t get to see it all.  We were there for most of the day but only saw 3 exhibitions – the Forest Secrets; Mind: Enter the Labyrinth and Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world.  But here’s a few photos of what we did see.

Stick Insect in the Forest Secrets exhibition

One of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a long time was the Wild exhibition.  There are more than 750 taxidermied animals on display and the museum has set up these giant swivelling monitors (think huge iPads) with cameras, so you can point the camera at any of the animals, then tap on the image  of which ever animal is showing on the monitor and it’s information will load up on the screen.  It’s amazing!  Here are some of the animals on display:

I could’ve spent a whole day in the Wild exhibition alone.  We were so caught up in the exhibition that it was 3pm by the time we realised what the time was.  So we had to quickly get back to the car and join the peak hour traffic for part 1 of our road trip to the Mornington Peninsula.

First pitt stop was Frankston.  It would’ve been lovely if it had been a nice day.  But it was quite chilly and windy and not a nice day for strolling the pier.

Frankston Pier

When Hubby and I go on road trips, our plan is to find the cheapest accommodation for a bed and own shower.  Be it above a pub, in a motel, it doesn’t matter, as long as it doesn’t cost too much over $100 per night.  And we don’t book until we drive into the town and have a look-see to see what’s around.  On this night, we were nearly got caught out because we didn’t realise it was the beginning of Victoria’s Schoolie’s week and all the kiddies were heading down to the beach-side towns for their holidays.  It was getting towards 6pm and all the rooms available were ‘spa suites’ costing anywhere between $140 upwards a night.  But luckily, thank God for iPhones & Google, we were able to find a motel for $100 a night.  FTW!

The next day we jumped in the car and headed further south to Sorrento and Portsea.

The Sorrento – Queenscliff Ferry

When we got to Portsea, we weren’t too sure what to do, so we just went for a little drive around and we came across the national park – Point Nepean National Park.  This park contains an old quarantine station and a fort containing gun pits  that housed 2 retreating guns.  They’ve done a really good job at preserving and restoring the forts and the quarantine station.  Here are a few pics:

This little lookout is positioned on the point so that it looks out to the Bass Strait from one side and out to Port Phillip Bay on the other.   That’s Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads in the background.

Another lookout, right on the waters edge.  I’d hate to imagine what it’s like being down there on look-out duties during the winter time with the full force of the Bass Strait coming straight at you. Love the all the different blues and greens in that photo.

Another thing I’d hate to image, having to climb those stairs.  Thankfully, there was another way to get to where the top of those stairs are, it was much more scenic (read: took longer), but at least it wasn’t so steep.

This photo is taken from inside one of the many tunnels that connect some of the lookouts together.  There are plenty of little rooms coming off these tunnels, once probably store rooms or control rooms and the National Park as gone to some trouble to install display boxes with information about the history of the tunnels and the fort itself.

One other area of the National Park that has been preserved pretty well is the Quarantine station (yes, I know, work nerd).  They still have the hospital buildings, the accommodation buildings and the sanitation vaults.

These are the sanitation chambers that were used to steam and disinfect all the luggage personal effect of people entering the state (as it was created before Federation and so each state had their own quarantine regime).  The station was put to the test when in 1852 a ship called the Ticonderoga arrived from England at Point Nepean after 90 days of voyage with 795 passengers on board.  During the trip, the ship was rife with disease resulting in 100 deaths and 300+ sick passengers on arrival.  Overall, 170 people died and their names feature on a memorial granite stone on the site.

Once we finished up looking around the National Park, we had to do the same mad Google search for accommodation as it was nearing 5pm.  Again we found another motel for $100.  Win!
Another win – while we were looking through the tourist brochures, Hubby saw an ad for a hot springs bathhouse located in Rye, which wasn’t too far from where we were anyway.  Peninsula Hot Springs has about 20 thermal mineral baths ranging from about 36 deg Celsius to a hot 43 deg C.  They also have a dayspa centre, but as we were only in the area for a day we opted for the public baths.  We paid $15 each for a twilight bath session which was from 7pm till close at 10pm.  Even though it was a chilly night, sitting in the hot baths meant we didn’t feel the chill.  We even needed a quick dip in the cold plunge pool every now and then.  The soak was definitely what we needed after a long day in the National Park.  Needless to say, we slept well that night 😀

The next day we began our long drive/day from the Mornington Peninsula over to Phillip Island then onto Melbourne airport for our flight home in the evening.  We thought it would take a lot longer as we were leaving our accommodation during peak hour, but surprisingly it only took about 2 hours.

I wonder how many motorcyclist have been booked for speeding on this road?

When we got onto Phillip Island, we had a quick morning tea at a local bakery then continued further on towards Seal Rocks.

Apparently you should be able to see the seals frolicking on the rocks – but we didn’t have any $2 coins on us that was needed to use the telescopes.

The area is quite breathtaking.  I could’ve stayed down here for the whole day.

But we couldn’t as we had to move onto the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

Hubby is a keen motorcyclist and we couldn’t come all the way to this neck of the woods and not visit the Grand Prix track.

Being the big kid that he is, we booked in to do 2 laps of the go-kart track which is an exact 1:5 replica of the actual track.  I felt like a little ol’ nanna driving around the track with Hubby and a bunch of 16-year-old teenage boys whizzing by and lapping me.  Actually, ‘little’ is quite apt, as I just (read: wouldn’t have been allowed if I stood against the height requirement line) made the height requirement to drive the go-karts.  When I actually sat in the karts, I had to sit on and against piles of thick foam so I could reach the pedals properly.  Lulz.  But the nice attendant guy just kept shoving foam behind me so I could drive.  After our go-kart drive, we went on a tour of the actual Grand Prix track having a look at all the control rooms, the pitt lane and the view from the corporate boxes.


By the time we finished the tour it was 3:30 and we had 2.5 hours to drive to Melbourne airport in time to return the hire car and check-in for our flight home.

Scenery on the way to the airport

The drive back into the city was quite smooth, only slowing down once we got right in the city and had to go from the Monash Freeway onto the Citylink Tollway.  We got to the airport with just enough time to have an early dinner and a drink in the Irish bar before boarding our flight home.

Depending on how our fortunes go, if it was our last holiday for a while, it was a really good holiday to end it on 🙂


 

Some graffiti in Union Lane

 

Point Nepean National Park

Union Lane, Melbourne

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A much needed update…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

But I’ve been a bad, bad blogger! *slaps non-typing hands*

Forgive me bloggesphere for I have not blogged in over 2 and a bit months.  Terrible, terrible me.   I generally write my blog when I’m on night shift at work during the down time but the last few months have been pretty very busy.  As Christmas has been getting closer and the Aussie dollar continues to be nice and strong against the US dollar, people have increased their overseas buying which means less down time for me at work.   Oh well, such is life.
And now while I have a few days grace whilst it’s a touch quiet over the new year period, I thought I should update my blog.

So this is what I have been doing in the last few weeks:

Hope you’ve all had a very lovely Christmas and best wishes for the New Year! xx

Thank you for reading!

I can make butter!!!

One of my favourite blogs at the moment is Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Celia’s blog is filled with lots of wonderful posts about all the food things she makes from scratch such as breads, jams and biscuits.  While trawling through her extensive blog, I found a post on  how to make butter.  I never knew it was so super easy peasy!  All you needed was some pure cream (a few days expired is better) and some salt.  Oh and a mixer that can take a whisk and paddle attachment helps as well.  It seriously only took about 10 mins all up to do.  Here’s some photos of my butter making experience, but go to Celia’s blog post for some detailed instructions.

Add cream to a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment

Previously I used to throw out so much cream.  I’d buy it to make ganache and only ever needed a small amount – less than 100ml from a 300ml carton.  I always kept it with good intentions to use for something else, but the only thing I could always think of doing was whipping it up to add to a dessert.  And that would mean having to the then bake something to go with it.  Then the expiry date would come and go and I hadn’t got my act together to use the cream and out it went.  So now, no more thrown out cream!

Add some salt.  I’m not sure how much.  I didn’t measure how much cream I had before I poured it into the bowl, then I added a pinch of salt and it turned out slightly salty which is ok for cooking/baking, but I’d prefer it saltier for toast.  Then whisk and whisk and whisk until it get’s thick and turns from this:

To this:

Then this:

Once you get to this stage, if you have a splatter attachment, best to put it on, cause it get’s a touch messy!

I also draped a tea towel over the mixer at the back of the splatter attachment as it was going everywhere.  Keep mixing with the whisk attachment until the cream begins to separate into butter and buttermilk. 

I found a good Wikipedia article that explains the churning  process in a bit more detail.  When the butter ‘bits’ (yes, I don’t think that’s the technical term…) come together and form recognisable lumps of butter, switch to the paddle attachment and mix a bit more so that it separates further.

When most of the butter formed a clump, I used a spatula to gather the rest of it together.  I’ve never really used buttermilk, so I didn’t really have any use for it, but if you use buttermilk often, you can sieve the buttermilk at this stage and keep it for something else.

Rinse off the butter to get rid of any more of the buttermilk, then slap it down on a wooden board to get rid of the excess water and to shape it. 

Celia said the butter is less likely to stick to wood surfaces so she used a wooden board slanted over the sink (so the water drains away) and gnocchi paddles to do the slapping, but I don’t have any gnocchi boards, so I improvised with two wooden spoons, using the back of the spoons against the butter so it didn’t leave the spoon imprint and my wooden chopping board.  But if you have the gnocchi boards, use those because it leave some great looking lines imprinted in the butter (see the photo on Celia’s post).
Then after a bit of slapping and shaping, et voilà you should have your own block or stick of butter 😀

Wrap it up in parchment paper (I used baking paper) then I wrapped it up in cling wrap.  I’m not sure how long it keeps for.  I made mine, then went to Melbourne for a week before I could use it then used it over a period of about 6 weeks and it was still good.  But if it doesn’t smell or look good, I wouldn’t use it.

Halloween Cupcakes

I don’t really ‘celebrate’ Halloween, but this year, I was invited to a friends Halloween party and not wanting to turn up empty handed, I decided to make some cupcakes.

I made two designs – monsters and eyeballs.  The monster design is from the Planet Cakes (first) book.

Monster 1

I thought I’d give them all a bit of personality by changing their eyes a little.

Monster 2

I came across some eyeball lollies at Aldi and thought they’d make an easy design for the second batch of cupcakes.  Although I felt I should’ve put a health warning on the lollies on the eyeball cupcakes as it was just a gelatinous ball of ewwe, it almost felt like rubber.

Eyeball cupcakes sans 'blood'

At first I was going to leave them with the plain white fondant, but I thought it needed a little something else, so I added a drop of red food colouring and let it drip off the eye ball and run off the fondant.

Bloody Eyeballs!

And it was a big hit with the kids, though next time if I know there’s going to be toddlers eating it, I won’t use the black fondant again, lots of sticky black hands and faces!

 

Grroar!

Lorinda Seto Piping Course

With all my cake decorating so far, if I needed to write anything on the cake, I would just use cut outs because I just couldn’t do it properly.  I’d practice and practice with pen and paper, but when it came time to do it on the cake/cupcakes with icing and piping bag, I’d stuff up the style and spacing and it just looked really bodgy.

Look at that bodgy piping

So I decided to do a piping course.  I’ve always admired Lorinda Seto’s cakes and when I saw that she was offering a piping course, I signed up.

It was a half day course from 10am till 1:30 and we started with learning how to mix the royal icing powder with a small amount of water to get the right consistency for pipe work.  I’d always made my royal icing from scratch, but I think from now on, I’ll always get this mixed powder as there’s no need to fumble around with egg whites and it also means I can make up a small amounts as all recipes I’ve come across for royal icing have always said to use 1 egg white, 250 grams icing sugar and some lemon juice, which makes a fair bit and I usually only use half of it.

After watching Lorinda make a batch, we try mix our own at our own little stations set up with all the equipment we’ll need for the day.  Lorinda comes around to check everyone’s  icing to make sure it’s the right consistency – not too runny and thick enough to fall back on it self but still hold its peak.  And if it’s too thick and you’re close to the right consistency, all it takes is the smallest dab of water to make it perfect.

The next tip I learnt is so simple and has made my (cake decorating) life so much easier!!  When working with lots of different colours or different consistency of icing (ie thick for outlining and thinner for flooding), Lorinda said to put the icing in a plastic sandwich/freezer bag then insert that into your piping bag, cut the corner of the bag attach nozzle/tip and pipe as normal.  That way, when you need to change to a different icing, you’re just swapping the internal bag, cleaning your nozzles and don’t need to wash your piping bag.  What a fantastic idea!!

The first exercise was to practice little round balls.  Sounds easier than it is to do.  It’s all about getting squeezing the bag with the right amount of pressure then knowing when to stop squeezing so you get the right size.  After some (ie quite a bit) of practice I finally got the hang of it.

Example of small balls used as the border (though some didn’t survive the trip home)

The next exercise was ‘snails’, which is like the little round balls but with a tail.  I found these a lot easier to do, because you just flow from one snail to the next.

Once we got the hang of balls, we moved onto piping straight lines, curved lines and shapes.  Then we had another demonstration from Lorinda on how to pipe letter and words.  I always thought when piping thicker parts of the letter, you’d go back over it, but no, all you do is go a little slower so more icing is piped in that area and quicker at the thinner bits of the letter.  Hopefully you can see the different thickness in the letter in the photo above.

The border in the above photos were done freehand and the monogram letter was done by tracing the mirror-image version of the letter on baking/tracing paper from printed out fonts using a pencil then transferring the image to the iced cookie by putting the traced out letter, pencil side down, on the cookie and tracing it again, so that the pencil marks on the cookie transfer onto it.  Easy Peasy!
We then practised ‘icing writing’  on iced practice boards, practicing the more common words – ‘congratulations’ and ‘happy birthday’.

Last exercise for the day was the cute little bird cage cookies.  Except for the little bird, they weren’t too hard to do, just requiring a steady hand.

Pretty Bird!

The bird was a little tricky, but as there were pretty good instructions in the manual provided, it didn’t take too long to get right.

Caged bird

At this stage, I was glad it was the end of the class as my hand was starting to get quite sore from squeezing the bag and the neck ache was creeping in from leaning over the table trying to keep a steady hand.  God help me if I did this for a living! After a light lunch we were homeward bound.

A few weeks later, I decided to put my newly learnt skills to practice and made some monogram cupcakes for a friend’s birthday.  Still a little bodgy, but not too bad if I say so myself!

La Casa Risorante, Russell Lea

A few months back, when I first joined Twitter, there was a Media140 event for food bloggers and ‘foodies’.  The event featured a live cooking demonstration and lively debate on the role social media such as blogging, Twitter and 4Square have on the food industry.  Participants included said food bloggers and journalists, food suppliers, food business owners and consumers.  Mixy who is studying internet studies as part of her degree was keen on attending and I, being interested in food and the rise of social media also wanted to attend as my favourite food blogger, Lorraine, was a speaker at the event.

During the event we tweeted our thoughts and they were shown on a large monitor at the front of the room.  Afterwards, I was being followed (on Twitter, not literally :P) by @carmR, so I started following her as well and realised quickly that she’s the queen of Twitter and was a few months away from opening a restaurant – La Casa Ristorante at Russell Lea

La Casa has been open for about 5 weeks and has been getting rave reviews from both food bloggers and mainstream media.  Twitter was abuzz for La Casa.  A lot of the people I follow were posting photos and raving afterwards of the food and service.  I thought, I need to check this place out QUICKSMART!  I did a quick Google search for La Casa to see what other photos and reviews were out there and I came across Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial’s blog post about eating at La Casa and I was hooked even more.

So that brings me to last Thursday. Sitting at work, lost in the oblivion of repetetive clicking of the mouse and staring at the computer monitor, I hear a ‘Ting! Ting!’  A message from my brother’s girlfriend, A.  She starts with the usual salutations then at the end of the SMS the words “I’m Engaged”  Woo Hoo!!  After calling to congratulate her and find out all the necessary details, my next thought is: We need to celebrate and I know the perfect place! 🙂  I give the restaurant a call after work and Carm tells me there’s probably no chance of getting a table, but she’ll see.  A few minutes later and she calls back to say nothing available around 8, but I could get 8:30.  Hmm, too late for us for dinner (especially on a ‘school night’) so I have to turn the table down.  Doh!!  So close to getting what I had my heart set on, but no cigar 😦
Then then phone rings again.  Ooh, same number that called before.  I answer with a tentative “Hello?”  Carm’s excited voice replies “Guess what Toni?  There’s been a cancellation! We can fit your party in at 8!”  Yaaaay!

Hubby, Mixy and I arrive early.  We are quickly greeted by one of the wait staff then Tony (Carm’s brother) comes over to greet us.  As our table isn’t free yet, he directs us over to the bar where we can have a drink while we wait.  And there she was.  The bundle of energy I only knew as @carmR standing there with a huge grin on her face, arms outstretched as she’s recognised me from my avatar.  Carm greets me with kisses and the same warmth is extended to my husband and Mixy.  I’ve never met Carm before, but she welcomes us like long time friends and introduces us to Tony and Smiley (Carm’s husband), who works the bar.  We order some drinks – me: a Bellini, Hubby: a Stella and Mixy: a dirty martini (Smiley makes a mean martini :)) and in amongst answering the phone, ringing up the bill for tables and calling Papa to see if he can bring in some milk to restock the fridge, Carm has a chat with us and tells us there are some other Tweeps in the house.  Then she informs me, she’s been telling some of her follwers that she’s being followed by Toni Tones (AKA, me!) who is an actress and singer!!!  I nearly fell off the stool laughing!!

While we were at the bar also, I read one of the restaurant reviews on La Casa and found out that Tony use to work at Napoli on Bocca in Haberfield which used to be one of mine, my husband and a friend of our’s usual Italian.  Every monday night, we used to play tennis at Haberfield Tennis Centre, finish at 8 then head over to Napoli on Bocca for a garlic pizza to share and mains.  And boy, the pizzas were good!  Lovely thin base, fluffly light crust mmm mmm.  But sadly, cold winter nights and injuries (and me working every 3rd Monday night) put a temporary hold on the tennis nights which in turn put a hold on Napoli…
So there was no guessing that we were very excited to read that the pizza maker from Napoli had also come over to La Casa!!! F. T. W.  Well, that sorted the starters out – pizzas to share!

Our table was ready and the rest of our party arrived, which was very good timing as the smells coming from the kitchen was making me salivate.  From all the blog posts I read I had a fairly good idea what I wanted for mains, the only problem was it was half the menu!!  So I tried my best to influence everyone on what to order so I could have a bit… heh heh heh.  I definately wanted to try the slow cooked rabbit in tomato and balsamic and I knew it would be easier to order that for myself instead of trying to get someone else.  I just had to convince someone else to get the ribs, papardelle, penne…
(I have to apologise now for no photos of dishes, but have a look at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for some good photos :))

First to come out were the pizzas.  OMG.  Just burting with flavours!  We got the Bresaola and the San Daniele pizzas.  Delicious.  Definately on list again for our next visit.  The pizza bases were just like we remembered from Napoli on Bocca, but these were better – not as saucy so not as ‘sloppy’.  Perfecto!

As well as bringing a bottle of sparkling red, we ordered from the wine list – some very nice options.  I’d heard about the “Foreign Minister” which I will definately try next time, but on this night I ordered a glass of the Cab Sav and Mixy ordered a glass of the “Puglia”.  Both very good reds, but the Puglia is my kind of wine – smooth and full bodied, very easy to drink 😉

The pizzas and mains were spaced out nicely giving the happyily engaged couple a chance to fill us in on all the little details of the proposal as our mains arrive.  My rabbit smelt delicious.  Hubby’s ordered the lasagna, Mixy the John Dory, A the fettucini and J the Barramundi.  All the dishes were  very tasty and beautifully presented.  My rabbit was so tender, the meat falling off the bones.  The idea of having a dish described as ‘sweet and sour’ was a little strange, but as soon has a had my first mouthful I got it.  The tomato stew had a slight zing to it (I guess from the balsamic vinegar), but it was deliciously sweet.  I’m not usually a fan of tomatoe-y sauces (give me a creamy pasta any day!), but I couldn’t get enough of this.  And thankfully it came with a piece of bread to mop up all the lovely sauce.
Hubby was very impressed with his lasagna.  For him, lasagna is his ‘yardstick’ for Italian restaurants.  And La Casa goes to the top of the list.  Now, he usually eats fast, but this night he inhaled his food.  So quick that Carm missed out on a chance to feed him,  though she did feed J some fish 🙂

Finishing mains always gets me excited because it means it’s dessert time 😀  I’d seen photos of gorgeous looking cannoli on Fig Jam & Lime Cordial so I only had eyes (and tastebuds) for the cannoli.  Hubby ordered the frangipane tart, Mixy couldn’t go past gelato and A the tiramisu.  We were all happy customers, sitting quietly bar a few ‘mmms’ and ‘oohs’, transfixed by our desserts.  There was a bit of sharing between us to get a taste of each other’s desserts, but I think no one was really keen on sharing…

We all came away very satisfied and happy.  Me moreso because I was pretty chuffed I recommended somewhere new to go for dinner and everyone was very happy and satisfied; I met Carm and her family and they were so welcoming and hospitable and instantly made us feel like long lost friends and because my brother finally proposed to his girlfriend.

We will definately return to La Casa.

Complimentary massage from Smiley

La Casa Ristorante
271 Lyons Rd, Russell Lea
Ph 9712 3882
www.lacasarisorante.com.au

Out and About

With the arrival of spring, I’ve been making more of an effort to get out and about and put my camera to use and learn at how to make better use of it.   I’ve recently become fascinated by Bokeh photography from Mixy’s Blog and searches on Flickr have shown some fantastic photos, so I’ve been trying my hand at some Bokeh as well… (trying being the key word)

This photos below, I took whilst I was walking home from the doctors a week or so back.  It was such a bright and beautiful springs day and when I came across this tree, it was like spring personified.

 

Cherry Blossom Tree

 

I posted these photos at the end of my previous post, but I thought they needed the justice of being featured as larger photos and not just a collage.

 

Cherry Blossom Flower

 

I love the fact that the one tree has the different coloured flowers ranging from pure white, white with pink  stripes and bright pink.

 

Cherry Blossom flower

 

The photo above is one of my faves at the moment.  It looks so pretty and delicate.

Art & About Sydney

While I was on rostered days off on my own, I decided to head into the city and partake in Art & About Sydney.  I love it when we get things happening in our city and especially when they’re free.  There were two ‘exhibits’ that I was keen to see – Laneway Art and Sydney Statues: Project! I like doing these kind of exhibits as it allows me to wander on my own through parts of the city I would not normally go and to see each thing at my own pace.  I put on my walking shoes, print out a map or use the Google Maps on my iphone, camera, backpack a bottle of water and I’m off.

Here are a few of my favourite photos from my day out.

 

Milk and The Town Went Mad – Mikala Dwyer

 

 

Rush – Nick Savas

 

The above 2 photos are from the Laneway art project.  I did the Laneway art project last year as well and will add it to my ‘things to do list’ every year along with the Sculptures by The Sea (Bondi to Tamarama Beach).

The next lot of photos are from the Sydney Statues: Project!  I was really looking forward to seeing Il Porcellino (located at Sydney Hospital, Macquarie Street) all dressed up, but he wasn’t ready!  He was butt nekkid!  I tweeted @artandaboutsyd and they said they weren’t due to finish dressing the statues till the next day 😦

Anyways, here are some of my favourite statues:

Edward VII
Love the stripy socks on the horse!

 

A Young Queen Elizabeth

 

Apparently this statue of Queen Elizabeth is one of her when she was a lot younger compared to the one at the Queen Victoria Building (below).

 

Queen Victoria

 

She looks a touch scary…

 

Prince Albert

 

Prince Albert looking very handsome with his red socks and blue cape.

 

Prince Albert’s lovely cape

 

Look how purrty his cape is!  The day was quite warm and a little humid which is why I think Centrepoint is a little hazy in the background.

 

The Captain

 

The above is a statue of Captain James Cook.  His lovely cape was made by Ken Done, but I wasn’t too keen on what he was wearing on his front, it was too daggy to warrant a photo here.  LOL.

Hyde Park

As part of Art&About Sydney, there were a few things happening in Hyde Park.  The Council has commissioned an artist to build a HUGE rabbit out of recycled bottles.  On closer inspection, I’m pretty sure the whole thing is made from the 1 brand of bottled water, manufactured by a large soft drink company…

 

Recycled Bunny

 

The bunny is due to be completed early next year in time to mark Chinese New Year in 2011 – the Year of the Rabbit.  Aww look at his blue eyes and pink nose!  I think the use of the bottles actually makes the sculpture look fluffy!

The next thing to take my interest was the Bubble making man.  I’ve seen this guy before and he’s one of the better buskers around Sydney.

 

The Bubble Man

 

He makes these huge bubbles and there’s always a kid around that wants to pop it was soon as he makes it.  Luckily there weren’t any kids around on this day so I was able to get some good shots.

 

Blowing bubbles

 

They’re so delicate, all it takes is a gentle blow to get them floating skywards.

While I was standing there taking photos, he called me over to stand next to him and then he created a bubble around me!!

 

Bubble worm!

 

 

Look Mum! I’m in a bubble!

 

 

Girl in a bubble 🙂

 

Luckily I was quick enough to switch my camera to auto/sports mode otherwise I would’ve been to slow to take these photos on the manual setting.

 

And that pretty much brings me to the end of my day.  The Art & About Sydney trail I was following actually continued from here back down through the Botanic Gardens down to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair then over to Circular Quay to finish a round trip of down town Sydney.  But by the time I got to Hyde Park, it was about 3pm, I was a touch hot and bothered and with the lure of the bus stop being so close, I decided it was home time and to leave the Botanic Gardens and Mrs Mac’s chair for another day out 🙂

For more photos on my day out, check out my photostream on Flickr.

 

Bunny in the City

 

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