autumn leaves

Autumn is a lovely time of year in the garden. The sun is lower in the sky, casting shadows that hint of winter and the deciduous trees shrug off their coats, revealing gangly limbs ready for pruning.

1.autumn trees2.autumn trees

Only nature could paint the colours in the leaves as they turn from green to gold before relinquishing their hold to lay a carpet below.

4.autumn leaves

The blueberry leaves are a stunning shade of red prior to their partition.

7.blueberry leaf

Golden foliage of the Ginkgo slowly descends until only the frame remains.

8.ginkgo

12.ginkgo leaves13.ginkgo

Our gorgeous Ash tree protects the fern garden through summer,

14.Ash tree

relinquishing her frondescence to bathe lilies and irises in winter sunlight.

18.Ash tree

Before long, the buds of spring will appear……

Botswana Butchery

Leaving the ferry after our wonderful day on Waiheke Island we enjoyed a supplementary beverage at Viaduct Harbour before exploring further.

1.Viaduct Harbour

With evening meal time still a couple of hours away, we scouted the restaurant menus along Princes Wharf. There were some definite possibilities but the doof-doof music emanating from the establishments wasn’t really enticing for a relaxing dining experience.

2.Princes Wharf

Returning to the old Ferry Building, we settled in the sunshine at Botswana Butchery for, you guessed it, another beverage.

3.Botswana Butchery

We were very comfortable watching the ferries come and go

4.wharf

and, after perusing the menu, we moved inside to dine as the light was fading.

5.Botswana Butchery6.Botswana Butchery

The stunning décor coupled with genial waiting staff made for a lovely, relaxing ambience.

9.Botswana Butchery

10.Botswana Butchery

Using the best local ingredients, the meals were superb. I had Crispy Half Duckling with blackberries, parsnip puree, baby vegetables, watercress & duck jus, while Michael opted for the Raukumara Venison Loin (from the Raukumara Ranges, Bay of Plenty). Steamed Seasonal Vegetables completed the main event.

There was only one element left to make my day complete – Vanilla Crème Brulee with cherry sorbet, rice flakes, pickled cherries and a meringue cigar.

14.Vanilla Creme Brulee

Grotte di Castro

On our way to Bolsena for a lakeside lunch, we stopped to explore the town of Grotte di Castro. The Etruscans lived here quite happily, even after the Romans conquered in the 3rd century BC. That all changed when the Lombards invaded in the 8th century and the inhabitants, deprived of all their possessions, were forced to live in the many caves around the cliffs. Fast forward to 1537 when the town was bought by the Farnese family and became part of the Duchy of Castro. Hence the name, meaning Caves of Castro. We parked on the outskirts and wandered along Via Vittorio Veneto

to the main square, Piazza Cavour. The colourful buildings added some brightness to the overcast day and the war memorial stands proudly as a centrepiece.

5.Piazza Cavour6.Piazza Cavour

We caught glimpses of Lake Bolsena between the houses,

10.Lake Bolsena

some of which must have magnificent views.

11.Grotte di Castro12.Grotte di Castro13.Grotte di Castro

This is the best way to traverse the narrow, cobbled streets.

We continued on foot through the older part of town

20.Town Hall

21.Grotte di Castro

before returning to the car for the short drive to Bolsena.

22.Grotte di Castro

The vision of Grotte di Castro from the road as we left was stunning

23.Grotte di Castro24.Grotte di Castro25.Grotte di Castro26.Grotte di Castro27.Grotte di Castro

along with another enticing scene of Lake Bolsena.

28.Lake Bolsena

Liquid Light

While in Melbourne last year, we were fortunate to see the Liquid Light: 500 years of Venetian Glass exhibition at the NGV. The island of Murano in Venice has been home for hundreds of years to local artisans who have created the world famous Venetian glass. Evidence of glassmaking in Venice has been found as early as the 7th century but it wasn’t until the mid 15th century that Murano glassmaker Angelo Barovier produced a new glass formula, named cristallo, for its resemblance to rock crystal. The elaborate designs and vibrant colours have changed over the years but the exquisiteness is a constant.

1.installation

A new form of decoration called vetro a filigrana (filigree glass) emerged in the mid 16th century. Canes of white glass are embedded into the cristallo, the result is stunning.

4.wine glass & decanter 1880

Another process that was developed around this time produced an opaque white glass, known as lattimo. It became popular in the 18th century when it was used to imitate porcelain.

5.bottle & bowl

The earlier wine glasses weren’t a lot different to those we use today,

8.goblet 1880

except for the goblets with the ornately embellished stems. I would be very nervous drinking my wine from one of these.

The Venetian glass industry suffered a decline in the 17th century in the wake of a financial crisis following the Italian plague of 1629-1631. A less expensive version of Venetian-style glass emerged and undercut the market for the authentic cristallo. Things went from bad to worse with the Napoleonic Wars and the industry all but collapsed by the mid 19th century. Fortunately, in 1866, The Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company Ltd. was established and the glass making techniques of the 16th and 17th centuries were revived. It seemed that vases and jugs took on a simpler form

16.ewer 1880

although the same can’t be said for this candelabrum.

17.Candelabrum 1880

Moving into the 20th century, the same techniques were used to produce some beautiful, elegant pieces. Designed by Swedish Tyra Lundgren in 1938, this leaf dish is made with very fine vetro a fili decoration (white glass threads).

18.Venini & Co leaf dish 1950

In the 1960s, Dale Chihuly was one of the first Americans to study glassmaking in Venice and in 1969, established the Pilchuk Glass School in Washington where he worked with Toots Zynsky and Richard Marquis. Chihuly began his Macchia series in the 1980s, named for the speckled effect of colours in the shell-like forms (macchia is Italian for spot).

19.Macchia series 198220.Macchia, Dale Chihuly 1993

The vivid colours of the fine glass canes in this fascinating piece by Toots Zynsky were inspired by the plumage of exotic African birds.

21.Toots Zynsky 1990

The name of the Marquiscarpa series is a combination of Richard’s surname and that of Carlo Scarpa to pay homage to the Italian architect. The footed platters have an intriguing mosaic appearance, created using glass canes sliced into cross sections.

22.Marquiscarpa #9, 1991

In the 21st century, the Venetian glass industry has to compete with the incursion of cheaper imports. Hopefully, ongoing collaborations between Muranese workshops and outside artists will secure its future.

avian interlopers

Our garden has no shortage of birdlife. The wrens bob around happily keeping the insect population down and the honeyeaters commingle with the bumble bees around the flowering plants. Sometimes, all is not so peaceful. In summer the swallows appear, desperately seeking out their ideal position for the new seasons arrivals. This year, they built a cosy nest under the eaves at the southwestern end of house, not anticipating the unseasonal gale force winds that ensued. Plan B was in the more sheltered northeastern corner but they must have found a Plan C because there was no evidence of them using the nest. I’m sure they will be back next summer.

3.swallow

Kookaburras are one of my favourites, they are so handsome and their distinctive calls that sound like anything from a chainsaw starting to a raucous belly laugh always make me smile.

4.kookaburra

Our relationship was tested when our goldfish started disappearing and one day, Michael observed the kookie culprit. We really didn’t want to put a net over the pond and, knowing kookaburras are territorial, installed a metal facsimile to guard the pond.

5.metalbird

It seemed to work for a while but, long story short, there is now a net over the pond and our new fish are safe.

6.pond

We often have visits from the yellow-tailed black cockatoos, usually for water from the stock troughs. I like their mournful, wailing call and they work together as a team with one keeping lookout while the others have a drink. They, too, have recently tested our hospitality. We have a beautiful banksia that has finally reached the perfect dimensions to disguise a rainwater tank – the very reason it was planted.

7.banksia

One afternoon, the cockatoos decided to bring the family and feast on the seed pods.

8.yellow tailed black cockatoo

About a dozen birds created havoc, breaking branchlets and flinging debris in all directions. They have returned numerous times, hopefully the tree will survive the onslaught.

11.yellow tailed black cockatoo

The lounge window has always attracted birdlife, the double-glazing provides a flawless reflection. Most of them just look at themselves, some will tap and flutter against the glass while others will stand there and call incessantly. Tasmania is the only place you will find the Yellow Wattlebird, Australia’s largest honeyeater. It has a range of distinctive calls, all of which are very loud and not of the soothing variety, more like a soprano cough. One recently became completely enamoured with his own reflection, I took a closer look.

12.yellow wattlebird

He retreated to the safety of the nearby birdbath and scanned the area

before returning to his mirror. In the meantime, I had adjusted my perch for a bird’s eye view.

17.yellow wattlebird

Back to the bath for a quick dip

and he seemed satisfied with the result.

20.yellow wattlebird

It is lovely to have so many birds around. Despite my grumbling, I wouldn’t want it any other way.