Monday, 13 March 2017

A day at the Ballarat Begonia Festival

This weekend was a long weekend in the state of Victoria because today was Labour Day. I'm not sure what that is but to whoever Mr or Mrs Labour is that we have a day off work named after them, I thank you.
Yesterday afternoon whilst perusing the Instagram, I came across a photo of beautiful flowers labeled #ballaratbegoniafestival.
Ballarat is only an hour west-ish from Melbourne. I googled this thing and hurriedly smashed a text message off to the Bear declaring, "How is it there is a huge flower festival near Melbourne this weekend and I didn't go!"  Then followed by at least 5 emoticons of a crying face. And maybe a flower.
Bless his furry little heart because just as I had written off the weekend and thought I was going to spend to day doing laundry, he said we should go the next day. Today!
I took a million photos. This blog post has approximately half a million. 
The Bear drove, I crocheted. A match made in heaven! *yes, this is one of my hands. it does not belong to a man, just a former horticulturist.
We arrived!

The Ballarat Begonia Festival is held in the Ballarat Botancial Gardens on the banks of Lake Wendouree. In the era known affectionately as my 'yoof' (youth), I trained as a horticulturist.

I walked away from working in that industry as the income was little more than that of a supermarket checkout chick and years of sun exposure rendered many of my female work colleagues looking older than their grandmothers. Being the vain little thing I was in my mid twenties, I desired a decent income and a life of skin cancer avoidance.  However I will still completely Geek Out In botanical gardens, floriades, florists, garden festivals and anywhere near large trees. Like this one...

Sequioadendron giganteum. AKA The Sienna Redwood.  Isn't she beautiful?  I have had that Woody Guthrie tune buzzing around in my head all day!
  There was an avenue with bronze busts of all the former Australian prime ministers. Adorned with floral wreaths for the festival!
Kevin Rudd aka Kevin 07, aka smiles for the camera and acts super friendly but was known to be a raging cranky Napoleon to his staffers behind closed doors. Also known for dropping loads of F-bombs....
Lovely Julia. The abuse she copped has possibly guaranteed no female will want to be prime minister for at least another 200 years.
Good Old Bob Menzies. I used to use the Menzies library a lot when I studied at the Australian National University in Canberra. It was haunted. Maybe by Menzies.
Dear Harold Holt. He walked into the sea and never walked out. Then they named a swimming pool after him. Because #australiahasasicksenseofhumour
Another PM who has a suburb somewhere named after him....
And little Johnny Howard...
The great Cunning Linguist (he would appreciate that), Paul Keating.
The garden beds were filled with the most amazing dahlias. This one is as big as my head!
A bed of Fragrant Plum roses.
So if this is a Begonia Festival, where are the begonias????
See that big glasshouse past the statue of Wallis?
Let's go inside!


The Bear and I. This was just after our arrival. After 3 hours of trudging around the gardens, getting hungry, constantly yelling at Sonofagun No.2 to stop trying to walk on the garden beds, telling a hangry (hungry/ angry) SOG No.2 that yes, we were getting food soon, sorry we can't get food soon because the lines at the food trucks were a mile long etc, the smiles were wiped off our faces....
A lego umbrella!


A beautiful mermaid in the very very large sandpit play area.
Because in Australia, kangaroos are everywhere.
There was exactly 10 lego sculptures hidden around the gardens as a part of a treasure hunt/ competition to win a cruise. It was actually quite fun.
After we left, finally fed ourselves and the hangry Sonofagun No.2 and the Bears cub, we decided it was time to go home.

BUT just on the outskirts of Ballarat we saw the signs to the Ballarat Mill Market. I have already visited the one in Daylesford and Geelong. These markets are huge antique and old wares emporiums...

Be still my beating heart! A copy of Desolation Boulevard by 70s glam rock band Sweet! I would have happily slapped down 35 bucks EXCEPT it was an Australian release which does not include one of my favourite songs Ballroom Blitz. Apparently only US releases of the album have it. Sad face.

This place is so huge and has so much stuff, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Just as well theres a café inside to rest your overwhelmed eyeballs!

Um, excuse me Sir. Have you seen a US version of Desolation Boulevard by Sweet around here anywhere? Or a budgie vase?

All of the anodized bickies tins and ALL of the pyrex.
Phew!  And would you believe I walked out of there and only purchased a small pokemon badge for Sonofagun No.2? True!

What a fun day! Thanks for visiting!

What did you get up to this weekend?

The Red Haired Amazona

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Holy Morgan Freeman I'm Old! and Figs.

Summer has apparently finished.

Fortunately the seasons don't just stop dead in their tracks, tip their hat and say, "See ya losers!"  The change from one to another is a gradual process that takes weeks and sometimes months.

Down here in the bottom of Kangaroo Land we have escaped the heatwave that has affected the rest of the country and had a fairly mild summer. Not a single day over 40 degrees which I feel is an achievement. Well done Melbourne! You make my decision to move here 6 years ago feel justified!

Now we are cruising deliciously into a warm, sunny autumn.

The Rainbow Lorikeets which swept in at the beginning of February have flown home to their usual place of residence in the palm trees near our local train station. But not without first demolishing the nuts on the small conifer at the front of my driveway.

I pulled in one afternoon when I had finished work to see these guys. I immediately stopped and took this photo through the windscreen so they wouldn't get startled and fly away!

Although I have been busily crocheting and writing up patterns for my Winterlude Keyhole Scarf and Mandala, I haven't had much to report in bloggy land. I've been out enjoying the sunny days with friends and family!

It was Sister Amazonas birthday last week. She lives very close to an amazing place called the Unwind Craft Cafe.

It is located in Keilor East just slightly north of the Melbourne CBD.  You can bring your knitting or crochet along and have a coffee and Panini while crocheting away and not feel like a weirdo that everyone is staring at (like I normally do when I crochet in other non- craft cafes) because everyone else is crocheting or knitting too!  On this particular day, there seemed to be a crochet class in the back room, and down the front they were running a knitting clinic. If you are stuck with a knitting problem with one of your WIPS, you could bring it along for some help. How awesome is that?

The owners were 2 lovely ladies who must have thought I was a total fruitloop. I was so overwhelmed by all of the wonderful fibre pieces and yarns for sale that I did 3 whole circuits of the entire shop, decided to buy a whole batch of Bendigo Woollen Mill yarns, then promptly changed my mind because I couldn't decide what to buy!

An old friend Natalie drove up from Geelong for a visit on Sunday.  We have known each other for nearly 40 years as we lived in the same street back in Canberra.  I was 5 years old and she was 4. Holy Morgan Freeman I'm so damn old.

She brought over some beautiful flowers for little OLD me!

We took the kids down to the Esplanade for a walk and play.

Right in front of the Altona beach is a lovely medium sized park with playground. To the back of the park is the original Altona Homestead. On weekends it is usually open and free for people to wander in and check out the original house and there is also a little space at the back where you can have Devonshire Tea.  I had never been inside so we decided to check it out.

Photo courtesy of

Do you see the gorgeous old crochet blanket in the cot?

In the dining room was this amazing/ macabre/ sad/ fascinating glass cabinet. It was the original taxidermied hummingbird display.  Apparently back in the 'good ole days' people like to collect these beautiful little creatures, kill them, stuff their teeny carcasses and stick them in display cabinets.

Aren't you so proud of your ancestors right now?

You know, as much as we all would love to have our own collection of stuffed hummingbirds, it much nicer to have crocheted stuffed hummingbirds, don't you think?

Like this!

(Shameless self promotion 'hint hint'. Click on the link above to see my Pearly Hummingbird pattern which is available to purchase for the super amazing price of US$5!!! Yes, just US$5!!))

"I wish I was crocheted!"

I have continued to work on my bright blanket. It's not very big. I would say cot sized or lap blanket sized.  Some lovely people on my Facie page gave me excellent name suggestions such as 'Tutti Fruity', 'Skittles' and 'Fruit Salad'.

I first started working rows of single crochet all around the edge. Now I've decided to add a green leafy round, then a little flower top similar to a round I incorporated in my Happy Flower Mandala. However I am not happy with the corners. See how they're a little rounded?

I'm enjoying the fruit and flowers in my garden before they finish for the season.

This flower carpet rose is divine. It's currently in a pot but I'm hoping it can find a permanent place in the garden before next spring.

Every couple of days I check the fig bush to see if the figs are ripe. I've been a bit worried the possums or birds would get them before I did.
I have never managed to pick them in time.

So I have been waiting for them to turn purple. Because I thought all figs turned a bit purple. So I went over to have a look and a squeeze.

I squeezed gently (Gosh that sounds rude), and the 3 big ones in the photo were soft! I searched in the Google and the Google told me that you CAN get green ripe figs. So I went inside for scissors and a bowl.

Get a load of these geezers! They're so ripe, some of the fruit is starting to split. Like fruity stretch marks!

I had to eat the flesh with a spoon! It was like jam! So sweet and sugary...  
**update: the Google just told me this is a variety called 'Battaglia' which is known for it's goopy innards resembling strawberry jam. For once the google is telling the truth. Pity it didn't tell me the truth when it told me 8 years ago I was experiencing menopause. Turns out it was pregnancy...**

Battaglia Figs: so yummy!

The good old lemon tree is full as usual...

So that's what I've been up to lately. What's been happening in your part of the world?
The Red Haired Amazona