“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Friday 29 July 2011

Fiddler Lake, Milles Isles, Laurentains Region of Quebec, Canada.....

After my trip to New Zealand, it got me thinking about other potential trips. One of my favourite locations is Fiddler Lake, in the Valley of Saint-Sauveur in the Laurentains Region of Quebec, Canada.
Here are a few photo's from previous trips....

How tranquil does the Lake look? Apparently the shape of the plants gave Fiddler Lake its name. If you look to the right of this photo you can see them.  

You can certainly become one with Nature....

I was surprised to find both my children at different times sitting in a quiet place.
In today's world I think thats special.

There's so many beautiful walks and cycle tracks which can turn to skidoo tracks in the winter months.
So much fun!

Acres of virtually untouched forest...
But if you want an active holiday the choice of activities are endless.....depending on which season you visit. There's a clubhouse, pool and tennis courts, plus in winter obviously the skiing. 
Also in the summer you can visit any of the several championship golf courses within a 15-minute's drive.

Then of course there's all the local residents to meet....
How special....."Hello"
We also had regular visits from hummingbirds (to a feeder my daughter made following a recipe on line for the syrup), cheeky chipmunks and even night-time raids by two raccoons. Priceless.....

This one was a little shy....

This young wolf was having such fun teasing a toad.....don't worry we saw it hop away whilst the wolf remained fixated on the ripples.

It wouldn't be right not to have a photo of a Moose....unfortuately we didn't get the male with his antlers.

Where's Daddy Bear and Mummy Bear?
Canada Geese stopping for some refreshments....

Many of the chalets have a six-person Jacuzzi, private sauna, barbeque and more!

Hot tub and Sauna in Summer........ 
and then in Winter.........when it snows in Canada - it snows!

Thankfully when it snows everything is geared up to be able to cope.....

There are 86 luxury log homes featuring stone fireplaces, large screened porches, cathedral ceilings, heated floors, fully equipped kitchens and high-speed wireless internet.
Saint Sauveur is also the top night skiing destination in Canada, with eight ski centres and 89 of its 145 runs lit. Such fun....

Skidoo tracks, iceskating, snowboarding and of course skiing - even night-time skiing - with the biggest night skiing resort of Saint Sauveur in North America.
Mont-Tremblant is just 55 minutes away which is worth a visit. We went for the day and spent time visiting all the many shops, restaurants and enjoyed a live concert. We also went up the mountain which you can trek to the summit on foot but I have to confess the chair lift was my preferred route. There's also the Luge Run which was great fun. So much so we went on it a few times....

So, no matter what time of year you visit there's always so much to see and do. I haven't visited in the Fall yet but hopefully I'll get a chance to see the spectacular colours. An artists dream.
Plus Christmas is a must....roaring log fires, fresh crisp snow, beautiful scenery with zillions of Christmas Trees.....the perfect location for Santa to visit.
I could spend days preparing this post for you, but then it is the weekend....so here's a link to their website for you to check out if your interested in more details.http://fiddlerlakeresort.com/

But shhhh.....this is just between you and me.....I would really like to keep this place a secret.
Here's some further reviews just to show I'm not the only one to think Fiddler Lake is a special place.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

The Twenty Melbourne Painters Society Inc. 2011 Annual Exhibition

Last night I went to the opening preview of The Twenty Melbourne Painters Society Inc. 2011 Annual Exhibition here in Melbourne.
They are celebrating 93 years of traditional painting and as you can imagine having a venue filled with such special, talented Artists, was an absolute privilege and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

The Society has been established since 1918, the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society enjoys the distinction of being one of Australia’s oldest arts organizations and occupies a unique position in Australian art, both past and present. Many distinguished artists have been members of the group and contributed to its colourful 93 year history.

Unfortunately, I was so involved with events, that I completely forgot to take any photo's to show you, but here's a few links that you may like to see.....

My particular favourite artist is Joseph Zbukvic. Two of my girlfriends have actually bought some of his work which was very exciting. My favourite painting is the Chefs...

My friend purchased this at last years exhibition and it now hangs in her kitchen....the perfect location...well, maybe not? I think it would be much better hanging in my kitchen!
Here's a link to his website and there's also a few video's which are fascinating.

There's some amazing paintings on display at the Exhibition, so if you are in the Melbourne area, you really should try to visit...

Daily from July 27th - August 7th, 2011, Hours:10:00am - 5:00pm

Glen Eira City Art Gallery - Cnr Glen Eira and Hawthorn Rds, Caulfield, Melbourne.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

New Zealand trip comes to a close.....

I thought I'd just post some of my remaining photo's today....

The dramatic Te Rewa Rewa bridge

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is a pedestrian and cycleway bridge across the Waiwhakaiho River.
The bridge is part of the northern extension to the Coastal Walkway, connecting New Plymouth with Bell Block. The extension was made possible by a special agreement between Ngāti Tawhirikura hapu and the New Plymouth District Council. An historic pā is located on the north river bank and this was the site of a battle during the Musket Wars; the site is a burial ground (Rewa Rewa). The bridge is located in a rural area.The designer, Peter Mulqueen, is quoted as saying he understood that the bridge should "touch lightly" on the Rewa Rewa side of the river, in order to honour the deceased. This ruled out heavier designs like cable stays and angular truss structures. Mulqueen wanted to achieve a bridge with a "harmonious and dignified character.

I wish I could take the credit for this second photo, but as you've probably guessed already its sadly not mine. Andrew Smith takes the credit  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Te_Rewa_Rewa.jpg

With the ribs yielding to the prevailing wind, the bridge is aligned to Mount Taranaki. The sacred mountain is framed within the skewed arch when viewed while leaving the sacred ground – promising what is eternal.
The 83m long Te Rewa Rewa bridge is reminiscent of a breaking wave or a whale skeleton. It was designed and built by a consortium led by local company Whitaker Civil Engineering Limited and included Novare Design, CPG and Fitzroy Engineering.
Apparently the bridge was transported in one piece to its current location. No mean feat.

Just across from  the Nice Hotel is the Taranaki Cathedral....
dedicated as a Church in 1864 and as a Cathedral in 2010.

The notice above has some facinating facts. I hope you can read it.....
I've always loved church bells...
Paritutu and the Sugar Loaf Islands are remnants a large volcano that were active nearly two million years ago. If you look closely you can see the pathway to the top....sadly I didn't get time to do that.....
Here's a better shot....

See Muffin, I know you had a better time staying with Zac!
I hope to get back to some baking next week....but I can't promise.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

The 'Nice' Hotel.....New Plymouth. New Zealand

I'd like to describe the Hotel we stayed at, whilst in New Plymouth, as a nice hotel....which in fact it was in more ways than one.
Its literally called the 'Nice' Hotel.
We had a great time staying there and the staff were so pleasant and friendly. It had a special atmosphere that made you feel welcome and at home straight away.
The award winning restaurant 'Table' proved very popular too. 
But there are also plenty of other restaurants in the local area, if you want to get out and about.

Here's the Hotels website....
I was fascinated by the blue prints of the buildings previous life, hanging in the hallway.
They show that it used to be a Doctors surgery.
This cosy little reading area at the end of the first floor corridor, just outside our room, certainly appealed to me....but then you know what I'm like for books. I immediately felt comfortable. If you look at the top right hand corner,at the black and white photo, you'll see its a signed photo from Tom Cruise.

he starred in the film 'The Last Samurai' which was filmed in 2003, in the local area.....but I'm not sure if he stayed at the hotel or not, sorry.
This is the other side of the reading area with lots of old photographs. Unfortunately the owner was away from the hotel so I couldn't check if they were family photo's. I imagine they were .....but I could be wrong.  

 Peter Jackson's Autobiography was sitting on my bedside table, when we checked into the room, which I thought was a great idea. I couldn't resist starting it, although I didn't get very far into reading it. Its on my Kindle now, so that I can continue reading. 
Peter Jackson was born as an only child in Pukerua Bay in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8mm movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies...the rest as they say is history...Heavenly Creatures, Meet the Feebles, and Bad Taste....
Lord of the Ring Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Lord of the Rings - Two Towers (2002), Lord of the Rings - Return of the King (2003), and King Kong (2005), plus The Lovely Bones (2009) to name but a few.

The Maori Warrior by the way, is a postcard that's hopefully on its way to the UK.
I was rather disappointed that I wasn't met at the airport with a nose rub greeting, but looking at this chap maybe that's just as well.

Our room was called 'Wind Wand' which intrigued me, but upon researching  I found this.....
One of the most visible art pieces in New Plymouth, is the 45m-high kinetic sculpture Wind Wand, designed by the late internationally renowned New Zealand artist Len Lye, which takes pride of place on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway.

Installed next to the walkway's central deck on 31 December 1999 by the Len Lye Foundation as the city's millennium project, the artwork's sphere broke apart in stormy weather about a month later and the Wind Wand was removed for repairs. It returned to the Coastal Walkway on 5 July 2001 for the centenary celebrations of Len Lye's birth.
This dramatic artwork is fascinating to watch during both calm weather and storms. Its coastal location maximises its kinetic characteristics and its impact is enhanced by its highly visible location and the backdrop of the Tasman Sea.
Wind Wand is strong enough to stand upright but flexible enough to gently bend and sway in the breeze. By night, the globe on top emits a soft, red glow. We could actually see it from our room.

If you note the logo for the 'Nice Hotel' it incorporates the wand in the design. Very clever.
And last but by no means least....here's Sparky the resident pooch.
He wasn't allowed in the dining area but sometimes snook in to meet the guests.
This is just to show how thoughtful the staff were....after having a late check out, we still had a little wait before we needed to leave, so I decided to send a post. They suggested a quiet corner and promptly arrived with a cuppa......Perfect. 

Now I think that's what makes a place special....just going that extra distance to provide everything a guest may want.....even if they don't ask!

Monday 18 July 2011

New Zealand Road Trip.....The Forgotten World Highway

Yesterday was a fun packed day.....
We had asked advice for what we should do if we hired a car, and were given numerous idea's. The one that took our fancy was driving from New Plymouth in a large circle through Egmont Village, Inglewood, Stratford, Whangamomona, Tahu, Ohura, Ahititi, and back to New Plymouth. That doesn't sound too far, but let me tell you, we were gone about seven hours....only just making it back as the sun set.
People said it would be like travelling back 300 years and in parts it was.
When we mentioned our intentions to anyone, from the taxi driver, hotel staff, car hire staff, everyone's reaction seemed to be the same...."that's quite a drive" with a twist of the mouth.
I became uneasy and suggested we'd better take supplies with us, and stopped off to obtain water, crisps (for salt), Fruit (sugar) and Chocolate - just because!
I can now understand what everyone was apprehensive about. It was a little hairy in parts but truly a spectacular route with fantastic scenery. Some unfortunately on hairpin bends, that we just couldn't stop to shoot....much to my annoyance, and no matter how much I pleaded and promised I'd be quick. So you just have to take my word for it....but if your a novice driver or not a confident one, then perhaps this route wouldn't be for you. A good part of the trip wasn't even on tarmac! Just gravel with lots of fallen rocks from the mountainside, which kept you alert.
But then the road was called 'The Forgotten Highway'.....

Fasten your safety belts....Off we go.....
I couldn't resist another pic of Mount Taranaki as we started our journey....

It reminded me a little of Table Mountain...ever changing with the clouds rolling in and out.
No two minutes giving the same view.

There she is in the distance....
I suddenly became aware of being watched whilst taking this photo and turned to the side....
She was so well disguised, I never noticed her initially. She also had her kid with her, but didn't hang around - off they went down the mountainside.
I was astounded to see so many cattle on the mountainside too. I never thought cattle were good climbers, only ever seeing them on flat pastures.
Here's the information notices which I'm hoping you may be able to read. I know I could type the facts, but then I am away on holiday and some of their black and white historical photographs are priceless - such hard times and incredible characters.

An here's how it looks today....it weaves through the valley and you cross the tracks numerous times.

Then look what we spotted....wild turkeys
Turkeys were introduced to New Zealand around the 1890s. In those days, until around the 1950s, most farms raised a few pigs and had a mob of turkeys along with “chooks” and ducks to give a greater self sufficiency than is apparent on most farms today.

The turkeys were half domesticated and half wild in that the mobs were allowed to roam free but were occasionally fed maize. The chore of rounding up the mob to feed them usually fell to the younger members of the family. In this way the turkeys were prevented from wandering too far and prevented a range war with neighbours who could not resist shooting turkeys that strayed over the boundary. “Shooting each other’s turkeys” has become enshrined in the local patois and now means simply fighting with one’s neighbours.
We also saw Falcon's, and Harrier's...

And here's another 'wild turkey'....
(This photo may not stay once he see's this post)
I don't condone this type of behaviour normally, but I have to admit I was rather jealous at this stage of the journey. We hadn't seen a building, car or in fact another person for hours.....needs must and all that!
Maybe a 'shewee' might be a good idea. Note to self for future reference.

Then on to Whangamomona....
The first settlers arrived in 1895 with the town proper established some 2 years later. Growth of the town was seriously affected by the loss of 51 men (including the smaller nearby settlements of Kohuratahi and Tahora) in the First World War and a major flood in 1924. The town recovered with arrival of the railway line in 1933 and electrification in 1959. However the town went into decline again and the school closed in 1979, the post office 9 years later.
Whangamomona is actually a Republic and you can obtain a passport for a few dollars, at the Passport Office....at the end of the Hotel bar!

A little more history....

Ian Kjestrup (1989-1999)
After being put on the ballot without his knowledge, he became the first elected President. Served 10 years
Billy Gumboot the Goat (1999-2001)
First elected animal. He won election by eating the other challengers ballots. He died in office after serving for 18 months.
Tai the Poodle (2003-2004)
Tai retired after an assassination attempt left him a nervous wreck.
Murt "Murtle the Turtle" Kennard (2005-present)
The local garage owner fought off strong competition from former president Kjestrup and a cross-dresser called "Miriam" to become the 4th President. He was re-elected in 2009 by one vote. He was re-elected again in 2011 by a landslide.
On the day we arrived the Mustang's had rolled into town....
Off again after a little refreshment and light relief.....especially for me!
We came across a sight of how I envisaged New Zealand.
It was facinating to watch this farmer and his faithful workers (three dogs) rounding up the sheep.

It was amazing....the dogs took turns in barking and with each bark they slowly moved the sheep towards the pens. As soon as the last sheep entered the pen, the dogs were instantly quiet and immediately sat at their masters feet, waiting for their next instruction.....Oh Muffy, you've got a lot to learn.
I did have a little laugh to myself at the Jack Russell, who's obviously above all that.... just sitting watching until the end, then he strolled off to the farm house, no doubt for a little snack.
He's to the far left of this photo.

More information.....this time about the Moki Tunnel

This tunnel below isn't the Moki Tunnel....we were in that before we knew it and taking a photo was the last thing on my mind. We suddenly realised we didn't know where the lights where for that matter....eek.
Let me throw in a safety notice here....if you're hiring a car, make sure that you check, where all the bells and whistles are located ie lights in particular. You never know, when a dark tunnel may be lurking....we were oblivious to the tunnel until we actually entered it...then I commented we really needed lights...but my O.H. then shouted back...."I don't know where they are?" ARGHHhh... he was concentrating so much on just keeping the car absolutely straight. I just held my breath. O.H. just headed towards the light at the end of the tunnel.....Thankfully we never came across another vehicle coming in the opposite direction. Not sure what we'd have done then, or who would have had to reverse.
Have a look at this youtube link to give you some idea of what the tunnel is like to travel through....

Yep, we stopped as soon as we came out and checked for the lights.  
Apparently there were supposed to be five of these tunnels, but I think after the first one the plans may have been filed in the 'too hard basket' I certainly don't blame them.
Here's a smaller one that didn't need lights.

Well, I must get on with the day....catch you later.
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