Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some nostalgia

Spurred on by her great-grandson Ollie's success on the ski fields this year Mum's been talking about her amazing ski holiday in the Snowy Mountains, many years ago (before the war, around 1937-38 we think).

That's Mum, second from the right, in her early to mid-twenties, lined up with her posse of girlfriends, and that tall, dark and handsome ski instructor - "a good sort", according to Mum. The girls are all dressed rather stylishly for the times in their wool jersey baggy pants and fairly light weight button up tops. The ski gear must have been supplied by the hotel as none of these Brisbane girls would have owned any gear of their own.

The girls had a fabulous holiday in the old Hotel Kosciuzsko, built in 1909 by the NSW government but sadly destroyed by fire in 1951. Only the skeleton of the old staff quarters survived the fire which then formed the shell of the new Sponor's Chalet which still exists today on the site of the old Hotel. We spent some time around the lovely water reservoir near Sponor's Chalet in January this year on our Summer alpine adventure.

Over their 10 day stay the girls would have spent hours on the Grand Slam and Percy Pearson ski runs perfecting their early snow moves to the accompaniment of the instructors' orders to "bend ze knees"!

Knowing my mother she would also have enjoyed the stately charms of the Hotel - being "accommodated in style, the exquisite food and refreshments and winter activities"!

It must have been a huge adventure: travelling down from Brisbane to Sydney by train (that would have taken more than a day), then catching a bus from Sydney to the snow fields, via Canberra (and that would have taken most of another day).

She collected this picture of a very new Canberra on the way through. Those of us who know the city well will have no trouble in working out where this is, although the intersection looks very different these days, especially at peak hour.

I always remember Mum saying that she and her girlfriends started saving up after this to go to England for their next holiday, but the war soon put an end to those ideas.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Week Birthday

We were lucky enough to be invited to the Jerra PS Book Week Parade this week. The drive over was marked by Ella announcing we were going by way of Claire's place - pronouncing all consonants and blends perfectly.

Around 3-4 months ago she would have said we were going by way of Tare's pace. Ella's been putting in some very targeted practice with the support of her Mummy and the Speech Pathologist and all her words are sounding very CLEAR and grown up now!

Ella LOVED seeing all the Jerra kids in their Book Week costumes. I was not surprised when she singled out the various interpretations of Snow White costumes as her favourites!

But Ollie in his Ninja costume was our hands down favourite.

It's Angus's fifth birthday this week, so it was lovely to spend some extra time with him and just appreciate the lovely space he's in at the moment.... dancer / performer extraordinaire, passionate lego and Star Wars player and an all round lovely, fun loving, thoughtful person.

Ella loves him (and Ollie) to bits!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sister time

We've all enjoyed a four day visit from sister Ros from Sandy Beach. It's been very special to have some quality time in her company, sharing happy family meals together, checking out the local markets, appreciating the brilliant Fred Williams retrospective at the NGA, catching a movie, and a whole day together shopping at the Canberra Centre!

Ella has always thought Ros is quite special - and with faultless taste in Oobi dresses! She loved showing off all her clever tricks, most athletic moves, and best jokes, so Ros would be impressed.

We spent some time on "our" hill and Ella was able to point out how to sidestep the kangaroo poo, which Ros found impressive.

Ella helped teach Ros what it might be like for her when she's a Grandma: taking time to smell the roses and admire discarded sapphire streaked feathers...........

and blow and catch bubbles for hours in the sunshine..............

Ros spotted this rich velvet and brocade number at the Bus Depot Markets. in a previous life it was possibly a flowergirl outfit for a big fat Mediterranean wedding, but it EXACTLY fits the bill now as the ideal princess dress for Ella. She was dressed up for the ball in this picture and fluffy dog was all geared up to go with her.

It was time for the grownups on Tuesday after Ella went home. An afternoon movie session to see the wonderful Jane Eyre, followed by a glass of champagne at the Hyatt and then a beautiful meal after at Taze in Civic's North Quarter.

Time together for us three "girls" is rare these days. Thank you Ros for this gift. See you soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

FORM Studio and Gallery

The beautiful Form Studio and Gallery at 1/30 Aurora Avenue Queanbeyan was officially opened on Saturday afternoon by the Mayor of Queanbeyan, Mr Tim Overall. I had not seen the interior space before so I was blown away when I walked in and saw Maxie and Claire's spectacular opening exhibition "Setting the Scene". Maxie's large expressive portrait sculptures really captured attention in the front centre of this beautifully lit gallery space.

Claire's black and white prints and bold yet contemplative paintings lined the walls.. leading us as viewers around the various "rooms" that comprise this gallery.

It was a chance for all the family to gather in Queanbeyan, including Joel and Imogen from Brisbane and Erin from Melbourne. I captured the three of them in intense conversation as they were standing in front of Claire's Too Much on her Plate series of prints.

I soon found out what Erin was telling them...amazing, but BIG and wonderful news! The news was really the icing on the cake for members of our family on this special weekend.

This spectacular portrait of Imogen also shows one of Claire's beautifully lit paintings in the background.

..and people kept coming back to this expressive group of ceramic heads...

Maxie and Claire were kept very busy handling all the enquiries, the sales and the excitement, with the crowds milling about. It was a HUGE opening.

The seven year old was a perfect host, in between being the chief taster of all the opening show hors d'oevres.

In amongst the crowd you might see me against the white wall in the corner, introducing Mr Tim Overall before he officially opened the gallery and its first exhibition.

Two of our favourite girls, each with similarly timed BIG news, listened intently.

I was blown away by Tim Overall's opening speech: insightful, intelligent, well informed, and so supportive of the arts. Queanbeyan is fortunate to have him as its Mayor.

Our 97 year old mother enjoyed the opening very much. She is always proud of the success of family members and hates missing out on any chance for a bit of a party.

I'm glad Jeremy stood still long enough to be photographed. He is the one responsible for having the vision and commitment to develop Form Studio and Gallery. He deserves to be so proud of the outcome of that vision and the time and expense it has taken to create this beautiful space and resource for the city.

......and in the (right hand side) background you can see our favourite print: Claire's Balancing Act2.

The show continues, every day from 10.00am-3.00pm, until the end of August. Don't miss it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Our very special weekend started Friday with the arrival of Joel and Imogen from Brisbane. It was Imogen's first visit to Canberra, apart from the obligatory school excursion visit many years ago. As you do, we started with a tour of the usual suspects in the Parliamentary Triangle. This part of Canberra looked very picturesque on Friday in the warm winter sunshine reflecting off the lake. Imogen liked our visit to the National Gallery the best.

....even though it took her a while to get that the Sculpture Garden is not really a "garden" in the Brisbane sense (more of a drab, olive green bushland really).

The next big event to celebrate on Friday was Ollie's 7th birthday. He says he can always pick the present that I wrap for him.......apparently I always use striped paper!

Apart from his passion for all things scientific and snow related this gorgeous boy loves Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Ninja(?), Star Wars heroes and villains, and fantasy books.......so he's easy to please on birthdays.

Ella loves the boys' birthdays. She's happy when they're happy, there's always beautiful food and chocolate cake, lots of laughter ...and time to be with her favourite boys (apart from her Daddy).

And this was just the opening act to our very special weekend.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Through the lens

My new second lens arrived during the week: a 100mm, 2.8f Macro lens..woohoo! But I have been a bit too busy with work, fitting in some exercise into minus 8oC mornings and keeping up with family, to really get to know my new lens in any deep sense.

It is certainly capable of taking extreme close ups in relatively low light.

Our big cook up with Ella on Thursday morning gave us a chance to capture some of the fun. However there was just a bit too much pink sticky icing flying around the kitchen for me to feel comfortable about getting my camera too close to the action.

Rob used it to capture this happy portrait. There is something about overdosing on sugar that really brings out the love!

We had more family fun on Sunday celebrating Mum's 97th birthday (just as well she never looks at my blog or she would be mad at me for divulging her age!) with a glass of sparkly and more good things to eat. With the P family away at the snow, Ella was the only great grandchild in attendance. She did a great job of paying Mum extra birthday attention and putting on a great dance show for a loyal audience.

I managed to catch Ella in a quiet moment in this lovely shot, using the macro lens, which meant I could take the picture from a fair distance away in late afternoon interior light. I love the old Dutch Master tones in this shot!

...and then we couldn't resist experimenting with capturing the left overs from our "drinks" party. This is a very artistic shot of the chilli nuts!