Thursday, May 22, 2014

'Foggy Morning on the Lake' 2014 edition.

I love mornings that are still foggy when I'm driving to work. I don't leave the house til it's time for school so there isn't  many a morning where that is the case. We had one just this week though so despite making me a little late for work I just had to drop past the lake and snap a few pics on my phone. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alex + Kaija's Wedding

Golly gosh, we just had the most fantastic weekend! Footloose and child-free, we headed down to the south coast for our friends Alex & Kaija's wedding. I was there as 'official photographer',  a role I don't play much these days but it's conditions like we had Saturday that remind why I love photography so much. It was an honour to be able to record such special memories for good friends. Combine perfect blue skies, a stunning beach scape and a perfectly chilled out couple surrounded by their closest peeps and you have a wedding photographers ideal day.

Here's just a small handful of my favourites. There are many more! Hope you like them as much as I do A + K.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Bali Wish List

Things in Bali I would really like to buy but won't...

Damn funky boots BUT they don't come in my size.

Hand carved teak bear for my lounge room BUT too big to carry home.

Hand woven ikat fabric to make curtains BUT they don't have the metres as I need.

Vintage Vespa with sidecar BUT...

Beautiful handmade Balinese lace dress from Uluwatu Lace BUT it's $185 and looked a lot more stylish on the mannequin than on me.

Every baked good in this store BUT no friends to share with!

Tiny fluffy rabbit BUT... rabies.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bali Safari Park

Took the little tacker to one of Bali’s many big tourist attractions today. Of course she loved it and surprisingly so did I! Mr T stayed at the villa having a rest day so it was just the two of us. A girl’s day out you might call it.

The main attraction of this park is a ‘safari tour’ through the grounds, getting up close and personal with the inhabitants. The bus is fully enclosed (and air-conditioned which is a pleasant bonus) so no fear of being eaten by a lion. First on the journey is the collection of Indonesian animals, followed by the Indian and then finally the African animals. Elephants, crocs, lions, zebras, tigers, giraffes etc. All the usual zoo fare but still pretty exciting for a 4 year old. She was extra chuffed when the bus stopped and there was a zebra’s butt right outside her window.

Those things still amaze me… zebras, not butts. The stripes are such high contrast and so intricately patterned it doesn’t seem real. Here’s an interesting tidbit I learned about Z’s – no two zebra’s stripes are the same, much like our fingerprints, and apparently this is how a baby finds its mother in a crowd. The pattern of their mum is imprinted into their memory from birth.

Following on from our little bus trip we headed to the elephants. We watched a mother and baby for a little while as other tourists fed them carrots. I didn’t ask IJ if she wanted to have a go, just assumed she would be too scared but she surprised me and asked if she could. Well, $3 for a bunch of carrots, I thought ok, who cares if I end up feeding the whole bunch to the elephant while she cowers behind me? But she didn’t. She walked straight up to it with her arm outstretched and fed it one carrot at a time. I stood quietly beside her and clicked away with the camera. What a proud parenting moment it was. My child can feed an elephant!

Next stop was to feed ourselves while two very lazy lions napped just outside the restaurant window. Tis not the cheapest place to eat in Bali but I still can’t complain about an $8 club sandwich. A zoo in Aus would likely charge twice that.

The afternoon was spent at what I think is a genius addition to the place – a water park. Small in the grand scheme of things but with slides, water jets and all that jazz - it was the perfect end to the day.

There are also several animal shows and traditional dances performed at different times throughout the day. We caught the Animal Variety show in the morning, a short, sharp and super cute little performance that starred cats, dogs, guinea pigs and orangutans to name a few.

The combination of seeing the majority of the park in the bus and then relaxing in the water afterward saved us from the usual cries of ‘my legs are hurting Mum’ and ‘I’m too hot to walk any further’.

Our little day out was a big success!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mt Batur According to Ben

Walking up Mount Batur, or was it Mt Agung? No Mount Batur it was.

I was expecting an arduous trek up the 3000m Mt Agung with glorious views over the oceanic sunrise. Unfortunately I couldn’t explain that in Bahasa and instead got a 1700m trek to an “active volcano” which was equivalent to watching someone cook snags at a backyard BBQ.

Mt Agung looking smug in the far distance.... 

Who in their right mind wants to walk up the 3rd highest mountain in Bali when you could walk up the highest? Or at a stretch, the second highest?  Answer - quite a few people actually.  The turnout for a sunrise on top of Batur was equivalent to a mid-season Raiders game; a few hundred decorating the stands, mostly overweight and wheezing through the gap in their front teeth, wishing they’d gone and seen a better game.

The actual crater and mountain were reasonably unimpressive in stature. I did get a little giggle out of the el natural setting in which a yoga troupe had decided to set up for a photo shoot.

The highlight of the trip for me was my guide.  He ‘speech very good England’ and we conversed mostly through the universal language of heartbreak. He told me of his beloved who had married another man a week after he left for a tertiary education, despite her mother’s promises she would wait for him to return.

His best line was when he said ‘Maybe it’s karma, you know, cause I was a bit of a player when I was young.’ Yeah... that’s probably what it was.

He then told me his new dream was to marry a foreign wife, a tall foreign wife, so his children wouldn’t be short like him. I told him of my mother-in-law. Tall, foreign, female... 3 from 3!

I should probably wrap this up with something about the universal language of love (or heart break) being able to cross boundries; be it cultural, language or even height. But ultimately it was all probably just a far-fetched fable that got him an extra 20,000 Rupiah on my original stingy tip.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Life without an SLR… and I’m still alive!

Read the title above out loud and you’ll probably feel compelled to scold me with ‘pfft-first-world-problem’ remarks. You’d be justified too. I am a brat.

BUT! Hear me out.

I have been lugging an SLR, usually two lenses and a flash unit around with me on most trips I’ve taken over the last 15 odd years. I’d like to think all the effort has produced an archive of travel photographs that any Nat Geo photographer would be envious of, but sadly it probably hasn’t. Let’s face it, I’m no Steve McCurry. Add to that the number of countries I’ve actually visited and you would only just need your second hand. That’s including my own sunburnt country.
What I do have though is a brain full of good memories and a handful of images I’m really proud of. I like to tell people I was continually left behind by my group on the Inca Trail because I was too busy snapping glorious mountain vistas… we all really know the truth though don’t we?

So, in the lead up to this current trip, 6 weeks in idyllic Bali, I debated over and over with myself what ‘equipment’ I should take. My trusty DSLR, brand new last time I went OS, is now relegated to a drawer in my desk and rarely sees the light of day thanks to my recent laziness and the advent of iPhone apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram.

Yes… gasp! I’m a hopeless iPhoneographer. Any time recently that I’ve needed a ‘proper camera’ for a wedding or similar momentous occasion I have been able to borrow the DSLR from work.

In 2010 I bought a nice little point-&-shoot with a generous 10x zoom and the flexibility of manual settings. It was initially for Benny to take on his trip to Nepal. It did an excellent job in the hands of a self-confessed 'couldn’t-care-less' photographer and we were both quite impressed. I have since used it regularly with more than satisfactory results. Much of Ivy’s toddler years have been documented with it.

So, these were the items on my debate list.

  • Dated DSLR with dodgy old film lens (the good lens I got with it now houses a few small grains of sand in the zoom ring) but still a ‘proper camera’.
  • Pretty good point-&-shoot (although not without limitations)
  • My iPhone (incidentally I have not long ago updated to the iPhone 5 which has more pixels than my old DSLR!)
  • Now travelling with a 4 year old - Can I be arsed lugging around a camera bag as well as water bottle, snacks, wipes, colouring in, snacks, Angelina the pink teddy bear, hat, snacks, sunscreen, Polly Pockets, cardi, snacks etc etc etc?
  • But… now travelling with a 4 year old - Won’t I need to document the trip meticulously and ‘proper’ for us to relive over and over til she’s 16?

I know right! What a disastrous dilemma set before me. Well, to put you all out of your misery let me announce that I DID NOT BRING MY DLSR. But maybe you already figured that after reading the title of this post? You clever thing.

I do miss it at times but my phone and point-&-shoot are working hard to take up the slack. Either that or my laziness has also affected my standards — a natural evolution I guess but I'm quite OK with my results so far.

Scroll down now and you be the judge. Selamat Jalan!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hello Bali Belly

We've been here a week and it was no surprise when Little Miss threw up her guts this morning. She's ok now. Thank goodness for episodes of Peppa Pig on the iphone, not sure how I would have convinced her to lay down and rest otherwise. Ben and myself have thus far avoided the same fate.

The rest of the week has been fabulous of course.

We had a lovely local lady named Agung come on Friday to babysit Ivy. Ben and I stayed for about an hour or so to see how they went and they were giggling and playing together in no time. Across the road from our villa there is a very randomly, but conveniently, placed Bird Museum which has a kids play room so they both wandered up there before too long and Ben and I took the chance to go 'adventuring' alone.

Our type of 'adventuring' is quite lazy compared to most. It consisted of being driven in airconditioned comfort to a couple of market places then to our favourite Italian restaurant and deli for lunch. From the deli we picked up some fresh bread, ham, cheese and tomato to take home for dinner, costing us a whopping $5. Good Bali.

Wednesday was quite a big day at Waterbom Park in Kuta. A sure way to feel ashamed of being Australian is to sit there on a recliner and watch the deluge of your bogan countrymen and women walk by. Bintang singlets, braided hair, lobster skin, dropping f-bombs at the kids. Bad bali.

The slides and pools were heaven for Ivy. We took her on an enclosed (very dark) slide first up and she laughed and squealed her head off. Benny was so proud! Then we showed her the more tame one and it became her instant favourite. I was ok with that since it ended in the 'Lazy River', a gentle stream you can float around in your tube, totes more my style.

There's a host of other tacky touristy things to do there so we had Ivy's portrait done and I put my feet in a tank of fish that ate off all the dead skin... yes... a bit 'ew' but surprisingly a bit nice. Felt a little like light pins and needles. Strangest thing though is that it actually worked. My feet have never been so smooth. Guess I should just get my hair braided now?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I read a book!

(and my opinion of it!)

I started this book several months ago and got ten pages in before life got in the way. It sat sad and lonely on my bedside table until I packed it in my bag last Thursday night.

Now it may be the fact that this is the first book I’ve been able to read in a concentrated session since parenting became a part of my life but… I REALLY ENJOYED IT. Like, REALLY. It’s obviously a classic for a reason and although not all classics are created equal I am happy to pop it on my ‘top shelf’.

Short, sharp and wonderfully written.

Having just struggled through an Intro to Creative Writing unit this semester I could definitely appreciate the skill shown by Fitzgerald in bringing such imagery to life through his words. One of my favourite sentences, nothing pertinent to the story at all, was this ‘A dead man passed us in a hearse heaped with blooms…’

I would have just said ‘We passed a hearse.’ How dreadfully boring of me.

All the main characters were likable in their own sort of way and plenty believable too. Nick’s (the narrator) insights into what he thought of his contemporaries and the scenarios that unfolded was probably what drew me in the most. I liked his turn of phrase and his not overly biased descriptions; a rather more interesting character than Gatsby himself.

So anyway, I now have some anticipation for the movie. I can just imagine the 1920’s being played out in all that Baz Luhrmann glory.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Bali Adventure begins...

So here were are – day 2 in Bali. Only 37 more to go! We touched down Saturday night and were whisked away from the airport by our driver. After a one and a half hour drive through the usual crazy traffic, we arrived at our villa and were greeted by Trisha and Wiko, our lovely hosts. It was as expected since we had spent many an evening pouring over the photos back home. We have two bedrooms, a living area, small kitchen and bathroom. Ivy is a tiny speck in her massive king size four-poster bed.

Trisha and Wiko are next door and next to them are two small (but utterly gorgeous) one beddie ‘jonglos’. One of which says Trisha, is occupied at the moment by the Indian travel writer for National Geographic.

Our first two days have been lazy and uneventful. Our driver, Gusti, is happy to take us anywhere and we have one of Trisha’s old phones to text him when needed. Yesterday’s outing was brunch followed by a visit to the Monkey Forest. It’s one of Ubud’s main attractions and I have been there before on my first visit to Bali many moons ago. It’s nothing spectacular but is ok for a wander through on a lazy Sunday morning. Little miss was suitably impressed, mostly with the baby monkeys, who I do admit were pretty cute! We stayed a good distance from them as suggested by almost everyone you meet since they can get aggressive at times, particularly if you have food on your person.

After we’d had enough monkey business (yep, I said it!) we wandered up the street looking at the shops. It’s a noticeable difference here to Kuta with no hawkers constantly in your face. A much more pleasant shopping experience, I even bought myself a new hat.

Today we spent the morning lounging by the pool (where we have free wi-fi) and trying to convince Ivy that the ants weren’t going to kill her. She has had several screaming episodes already in regards to the ants… There’s an awful lot of them here and you can’t leave any remnant of food or packaging lying around or it will be covered in a swarm of black within minutes.

This afternoon we treated ourselves to a little pampering, as most do round here. I needed a leg wax so we went off to Milano beauty salon. When we arrived I asked if they could do something for Ivy and Ben. They promptly sat them both down next to each other and set Ben up for a foot massage. Ivy sat next to him on a little seat and had her nails done. I was taken out back for my wax but was finished before either of them. I came back to watch the tail end of the nail extravaganza. I could see she was bursting with excitement but, being Ivy, had to hide all emotion from the therapist!

The weather is a mild 30 degrees, humid but perfect. Our villa overlooks rice paddies and is surrounded by tropical garden including two avocado trees. We have the fruit of one ripening on top of our fridge right now.

Tomorrow another lazy day is planned and Wednesday we'll take a day trip to Waterbom Park in Kuta.