Williamstown Garden revival

Work is underway to return my formerly ‘aircraft-hanger’ covered garden back into a nearly wild native space for our local birds and wildlife.  I’m very excited that I’ve managed to find a local gardener who sees the same vision as me and we’re hoping to get started next week.

It’s a funny thing creating a garden.  For a while I looked out on what was just a barren patch of dry dirt which was uncovered when we removed part of our timber deck.  It looked very unloved.

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Over the past weeks, due to considerable rain and blazing sun in equal measure, weeds have established a foot hold.  Now initially, I wasn’t happy with the weeds as all I saw was the painful job ahead of removing them.  They go from a few green plants to fully- blown giant invaders seemingly overnight.  They nearly cover the bare ground now.

Strangely, now when I look out of my lounge window and I see their seeded, bobbing heads, I don’t feel annoyed in fact the opposite because the weeds have brought life back to my embryonic garden.

Already, butterflies have returned. Mostly Cabbage Whites but also lovely Dainty Swallowtails who until now only frequented the Melaleuca tree on my nature strip. I see at least one now every day and they always lift my mood as only a large, colourful butterfly can.

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Dainty Swallowtail in Melaleuca Tree

Wattlebirds and Blackbirds visit (probably after the caterpillars I am sure are being left behind!); enormous Dragonflies zip about on the hunt and Rainbow Lorikeets have visited to eat berries from my neighbours’ tree which has only been revealed due to the demolition.

A neighbour who knew about my garden renovation offered me four of her most treasured plants that she no longer had space for, now that she was moving house.  So I was gifted a large, thorn-less Lemon Tree full of fruit; a beautiful pink and white

flowering Pelargonium, a scented Yellow Rose and an Agapanthus, all potted and happy to sit on my deck until a space can be found for them in the garden (although the 42 degree days did challenge all of them).

Next stage is to bring in at least 7 cubic meters of earth and start adding structure to the garden.  The weeds will have to go but I’m sure some of them will find there way back. Along with the butterflies.

 

 

Share with your community for 2018

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Australian Black Swans Jawbone Reserve Williamstown

So a few things that will keep me busy in 2018 and may be of interest to you or a local community group! I’ve recently joined the board of Seddon Community Bank which is a part of the Bendigo Bank Group and also BirdLife Australia.
Seddon Community Bank provides sponsorship and small grants to local groups so if you know of a group looking for financial or in-kind support  around the Seddon area, please apply for assistance for 2018.
Every Bendigo community bank distributes the majority of its profits (in some cases more than 80%) back to their community so if you are not in this area, please look for your local community bank.
With this in mind, Bendigo Bank has created a family and friends offer to anyone looking for a loan or banking advice.
As it’s nearing Christmas, you may be thinking of making a donation to a worthwhile charity. If so, I can recommend to you, as a dedicated birdwatcher, BirdLife Australia.  I recently joined the board of BirdLife after many years of support and know that Australian birds and their habitats need all the assistance they can get.
You may know (how could you avoid it!) that as an avid birdwatcher, I take a lot of photos and post them on Facebook and Instagram.  Love to hear your comments 🙂
Thanks for taking time out to read my update. I wish you, your family and friends a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas and hope to meet up with you in the New Year.
PS: Please do share these links with friends and family.  Merry Christmas!

Fire destroys offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation in Footscray

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A fire today in Footscray  at Little Saigon Market has destroyed the offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation destroying hundreds of Christmas gifts, including 6,000 donated school books, intended for children of poor families.

The Foundation has been a part of the Western suburbs of Melbourne for over 30 years and Les Twentyman has been the major driver.

Donations can be made at www.ltfoundation.com.au and material donations can be made by phoning the organisation on 9689 480 or visiting Replenish for Health in Douglas Parade, Williamstown.

 

 

Writer in Transit: Castlemaine

It’s been raining up here in Castlemaine. Full on flooding plains type of rain. First time I’ve been up this way when it wasn’t hot enough to crisp your eyelashes.  It seems to be raining quite a bit when I go travelling at the moment – I’m sure it’s not true that I bring rain wherever I go. It’s just a coincidence.

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I’m here for the Fryerstown Antiques Fair (22-24 Jan) located in a now muddy field surrounded by giant gums raising money for the Fryerstown historic hall. There’s often a fundraising angle to much of the things I’m doing. I’m in search of good 1930’s Australian pottery and whatever treasures I can find (I’ve developed a bit of a button fetish but let’s not go there yet).

If you’re wondering about the writer in transit tag it’s an idea I can up with when I was listening to someone on the ABC talk about their time as a writer in residence at the V&A in London.  I was feeling a bit green-eyed that they’d probably get unprecedented access to all the lovely things held there. I got to wondering what really was a Writer in Residence and thought perhaps I could be one and how you apply and so on.   It then occurred to me   (I was doing the washing up at the time and looking out the window admiring the rainbow lorikeets which just goes to prove that, seriously, women really can multi-task but that’s another post)  that one could just turn up at the V&A (or the NGV or Castlemaine) and start writing what occurred to you there as you passed through it without needing anyone’s permission.  So. possibly I would be a writer in transit?

As I transit, I am actually staying up here in a wonderful bed and breakfast ‘Clevedon Manor‘ which is on the main road in Castlemaine.  It’s a Victorian mansion filled with period- appropriate furniture, lots of horse pictures and a cuckoo clock.  They’ve given me a lovely room with a bay window overlooking the hedge-enclosed garden. The bedroom has a great big silver-grey coloured metal bed with crisp white cotton sheets facing the tiled fireplace over which a gilded mirror hangs. There is a massive 2 meter tall wardrobe with a full length oval mirror in the door. My very clean private bathroom is just down the hall.

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a wistful Vivien Leigh in silk bed- jacket drinking her tea

Last night as I sat up in bed reading, I felt it would be appropriate to be wearing a pink silk, feather-trimmed bed jacket with my matching slippers at the side of my bed on the small rug, having just been served warm tea in a china cup by my personal maid. Beautiful rooms have this kind of Vivien Leigh effect on me. It is so reassuring to visit a new place and feel, well, at home.  Just at the right moment, 1st Dibs released this collection of beautiful images of gorgeous bedrooms.  Lust on these as I continue my journey through the gold-mining towns around Castlemaine.

New Year Resolves…Good New Things

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Sacred Kingfisher

It’s another January 1 and the New Year sits before us.. untouched waiting for us to decide what to do with it.

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Cheeky Currawong

A Good Thing

You can choose to make no resolutions about the NY. Many do (or is that don’t).  While I understand it feels like a waste of time if you don’t follow through, at least you had a goal to aim for.  Is it better to have no goals at all and take what comes?

So this year my resolution is specifically vague.  I’ve resolved to do something new (and positive) every day. That is, something I’ve never done before.  So that’s specific. And the vagueness is that I’m not going to plan what that ‘new good thing‘ is. I’m just making a commitment to do something new every day.  It doesn’t have to be incredibly dangerous, exciting or mind-bending, it just needs to be new.

So. January 1.  I kayaked down the Goulburn River to birdwatch and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.  Well not all of the GR but a nice, friendly non-rapid bit with my husband and a friend who showed us the way, let us use his kayaks and drove us back and forth! That is friendship, I’m sure.  In return, I pointed out the birds I recognised… a few Darters, lots of Little Corellas, 2 wonderful, delighting Kingfishers, lots of ducks, a Currawong singing in the trees, lots of noisy Cockatoos.

As we were visiting friends in a beautiful part of the Victorian farming region, perhaps it was easier to find something to do that I’d never done before. The more difficult thing will be to discover something different just as part of my normal everyday routine when I’m at home with the cat and wondering why I can’t watch foxtel for another hour.  Let’s see.

Happy New Year. And may many unexpected, happy, healthy and magical experiences come to you whether you resolved it that way or not!  PS Thanks BirdLife for the photos … I was too busy trying to stay in the Kayak to take photos! 🙂

Birdlife – all sorted for Christmas

A little addendum to my last post. BirdLife has just put out their formal Christmas campaign and given how much I like birds and want to protect them, I’m giving them an extra plug.   They have some really lovely bird-related products in their online store.  And who can resist a baby bird in a santa hat?!

‘Chairity’ starts at home…

Each year the sudden festooning of lampposts with Christmas decorations, mince pies in the supermarket and Christmas carols at my local cafe take me by surprise! “It’s Christmas!”, they yell! “Already?” I want to yell back!

This year is no exception .. perhaps because while I was visiting Sydney I was amazed to see – before Halloween was even over  –  some bright spark had already installed a 6.5 tonne Swarovski crystal-decorated tree in the Queen Victoria Buildings ! Now I think that’s really a bit early! It was very beautiful though.

It may sound it, but I’m not a cynic and I actually really like celebrating the end of the year, cooking Christmas cake, eating Christmas cake…

This prompted me to consider the various fundraising appeals and campaigns that are attempting to encourage us each to think about someone or something that needs the gift even more.

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Here are a few that caught my attention:

Chairity begins at home

Habitus Living – this glorious, glossy, envy-inspiring design magazine features the ‘Chairity Project‘ which, while not strictly for Christmas is happening around this time.

Chairity-Project-2015_Tracey-Deep_4-915x587Each beautifully designed chair will be auctioned off for chairity… sorry, charity… a great idea and a wonderful way to combine art, creativity and heartfelt innovation.  For more info visit Cult Design.

Very Berry Christmas!

jessicaIf you’ve already started shopping and perhaps like me you have a ‘gift drawer’ where you put things you’ve taken a fancy to but you’re not sure who they’re for (ok, that might just be me), how about buying a toy for a boy or girl you’ll probably never meet.    Berry Street is a wonderful children’s organisation which since 1877 has focused on the rights of children to have a safe and happy home. With their Christmas appeal, you can buy a gift on line, make a donation or get gift tags for your own choice of gift.  They only accept new toys and really need gifts for children aged 11-16+

Raining Cats and Dogs!

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If you have a cat, budgie, fish or a dog, give them an extra squeeze of affection (maybe not the fish) this festive season when so many cats and dogs are abandoned. Hard to believe I know but some owners find the cost of kennels or catteries to onerous and just leave their pets to fend for themselves.  And definitely please DO NOT give pets as gifts – these are often the unfortunate creatures that end up at lost dogs and cat shelters when their new owners find they cannot look after them. Consider this story in the Daily Telegraph last year but this sad story is the same every year.   If you’d like to support your favourite animal shelter, they often need blankets and financial donations are usually well received. Lort Smith had a great event ‘Pause for a cause‘ to raise money for the hospital, walking around Melbourne’s ‘Tan’ at the Botanical Gardens with over 100 dogs! What a great sight that would have been! Woof!

Cockatoos need you too!

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Let’s not forget our feathered friends this Christmas.  As a bird-lover I’m biased but it is easy to forget that we have so many beautiful native birds on the edge of extinction.  Visit BirdLife.org.au and see what you can do to help. You can become a BirdLife member for just $1.50 a week! Seems a small amount to help save beautiful birds like our waders, or the amazing Red Tailed Black Cockatoos.  What’s your favourite bird? Perhaps make a donation instead of a bought present for a friend.  I know they’d love it 🙂 (And keep your cat in at night, also a good gift to our feathered friends!)

Someone to watch over you

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Finally, this time of year can bring up a range of different and conflicting emotions. If you need someone to talk to, consider the Samaritans.  They have a help line for anyone needing a bit of support. Reach out if you need to. Or consider Lifeline who are there to help with many difficult situations.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Festive Season. And if you think it’s too early to be saying this, blame Swarovski! 🙂