Some art for a change

Photo by Michele Reid

Art by Jackson Pollock

We have been very lucky here in Perth. The Art Gallery of Western Australia has teamed up with MoMA and we’ve had some spectacular exhibitions. Now I’m not an artist but have a brother and mother who are incredibly talented.  When hubby’s family came to visit end of last year, we decided to take the opportunity to see some of the world famous artists at the Picasso to Warhol art exhibition. I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you.

Photo by Michele Reid

My mom and brother loves Mondrian

Photo by Michele Reid

More Jackson Pollock

Photo by Michele Reid

Yep, you guessed it, Jackson Pollock!

Photo by Michele Reid

One of my all time favourites, Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Photo by Michele Reid

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Photo by Michele Reid

Self portrait – Andy Warhol

A new exhibition has opened at the gallery and I’m hoping to attend sometime soon. The museum is also having an interesting exhibition called Secrets of the Afterlife at the moment. I’m desperate to go see it. It’s the only way I can indulge my interest in ancient history at the moment. So hopefully there’ll be a few more arty / museum blog posts coming in the future.

Winter time

Photo by Michele Reid

Autumn leaves early in the morning.

Well it’s definitely winter in Perth. Icy mornings and my washing refuses to dry. My friends in the northern hemisphere are enjoying sending me photos and emails about how they’re enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather.  But winter isn’t all bad, the tree in our street put on an amazing display as the leaves changed.

It’s also a great time to indulge in some treats I won’t normally do in the warmer months. Hubby baked these delicious scones from scratch! I’m a terrible baker so I’m quite lucky to have a husband who can bake.

Photo by Michele Reid

Yummy scones with cream!

The weather really started to get cold earlier last month when we were down in Busselton for the Half Ironman. I took a few photos while we were down there.

Photo by Michele Reid

Rain coming in over the ocean at the Busselton jetty.

Photo by Michele Reid

Rain on the car window – I was taking shelter from the icy cold wind.

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautiful winter sunrise the day of the Busselton Half Ironman event. Pity it was absolutely freezing.

Happy Solstice!

Solstice

Photo by Danilo Pivato

It’s Friday and it’s Solstice! Down Under it’s Winter Solstice…mentally I’m already feeling much happier thinking that days will slowly start to get longer and hopefully warmer!

I greeted the icy morning with some yoga to get the limbs warmed up. Mia decided she was far more comfortable in front of the heater than joining me on my mat as usual.

Just wanted to wish everyone a wonderful weekend and Solstice, which ever one you’ll be celebrating!

Best bookshop in the world…is in Perth?

Photo by Michele Reid

Sign at the entrance of Kaleido Books. Love it!

I am so excited I just can’t help myself. As an avid reader and book nerd, I was so excited when I realised Perth has the best bookshop probably in the world. Perth is slowly but surely casting aside it’s sleepy mining town reputation and becoming a vibrant, multicultural city. I’m so lucky to be living here as things are changing.

Photo by Michele Reid

The horror section

Photo by Michele Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

One of my favourite signs

The bookstore is called Kaleido Books is located at the train station as you walk from Myer in the city towards the National Art Gallery and the WA Museum. I had a quick browse around and they stock a wide variety of books. If there’s anything you can’t find, the friendly staff will try their best to track it down.

Photo by Michele Reid

The history section

Photo by Michele Reid

Exactly what most of us are thinking

Photo by Michele Reid

The Penguin Classics section

Photo by Michele Reid

I love the policeman

While snapping away at their brilliant signs, I met the incredibly friendly Sarah who told me that the signs are just the beginning. Already a talented Western Australian artist have painted some beautiful signs in the store based on Alice in Wonderland and Terry Pratchett. More artworks are to come which will make this bookstore an even bigger feast for the eyes.  They also have some unique and adorable gifts for the art lover and book nerd in your life.

Photo by Michele Reid

Alice in Wonderland inspired art

Photo by Michele Reid

Terry Pratchett inspired art – I like the kitty

In a world of chain stores, it’s so nice to come across something so unique and quirky like Kaleido Books. So if you’re ever in Perth, pop round to see the latest signs, say hi to the lovely staff and who knows, maybe you’ll find that book you’ve been looking for.

Photo by Michele Reid

The language section

Photo by Michele Reid

You’re bound to find the perfect recipe book here

On a side note, Find Bliss on Earth is now on Facebook!

Visiting Sydney

As mentioned in my previous post, we had some family come and visit us late last year and took advantage of the situation and headed off to explore Sydney for the first time.

We left very early on a Monday morning. In Perth that means long lines as you book your luggage in as all the FIFO (Fly-in Fly-out) workers on the mine head back to work today. The airport was full of people in high visibility vests getting ready for their next stint on the mines. I was feeling a bit worse for wear as I managed to pick up a tummy bug the previous night. I had some serious flashbacks of India! I suspect my stomach didn’t like the cider I tried earlier the night.

The flight was relatively uneventful if not somewhat long. Luckily I had the window seat so I could look down at the beautiful patterns and landscape down below.

Photo by Michele Reid

Clouds from above

Photo by Michele Reid

Farm land with pockets of indigenous bush

Photo by Michele Reid

Patterns

Instead of writing a long post about all the things we did, I thought I’d just share some photos as our main reason for visiting Sydney was seeing family.

Photo by Stephen Reid

One of the beaches in Manly

Photo by Michele Reid

At the Manly Ferry Terminal

Photo by Stephen Reid

View from our bedroom at the B&B we were staying at. A navy ship going through The Heads.

Manly is really a nice suburb. It has great beaches and the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been too (sadly I forgot the name of the restaurant!)

Photo by Michele Reid

Iconic Bondi Beach

Photo by Michele Reid

Kitty graffiti at Bondi Beach

Photo by Michele Reid

A cute fox sculpture – part of Sculpture by the Sea

Photo by Stephen Reid

Aptly named sculpture

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sculpture on Tamarama Beach

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ferry that goes from Manly into Sydney

Photo by Michele Reid

First proper view of the Sydney Opera House

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sydney Opera House

Photo by Michele Reid

Delicious chocolate ganache cake at La Renaissance Patisserie at The Rocks in Sydney

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge

Now is a good time to mention I have a slight obsession with cats (crazy cat lady!) So when I saw the following in the mall in the beautiful Queen Victoria Building, I had to take photos.

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable cat containers

Photo by Michele Reid

More cute kitties

Photo by Michele Reid

I so want this cute tea set

Photo by Stephen Reid

Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney

Photo by Stephen Reid

Part of the new Wolverine film was shot here

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautifully carved detail

It was quite a hot, muggy day when we went exploring in Sydney. We decided to have a rest at the Museum of Contemporary Art. They have a great cafe right on the top floor and it has a beautiful view of the Sydney Opera House. While we were sipping our coffee, the sun came out and shone directly on the Opera House, allowing me to take quite a nice photo (even if I say so myself!)

Photo by Michele Reid

The Sydney Opera House lit up by late afternoon sun

We met up with a varsity friend and his girlfriend for dinner. It had been a long day enjoying Starbucks (we don’t have even one branch in WA!), shopping at Zara, visiting museums and sightseeing. We took the ferry back to Manly that night and saw the Opera House all lit up. The full moon really made it all the more magical. Our visit to Sydney was brief but wonderful!

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sydney Opera House at night with the full moon

Exploring surrounding Perth

Last year we were lucky enough to have my mother-in-law and brother-in-law come for a short visit. They were here for two weeks. The first week we showed them in and around Perth and the second week we all flew to Sydney to visit family there. I thought I’d share some of the photo’s I took while we were exploring around Perth.

Photo by Michele Reid

Pretty cherry chocolates

Photo by Michele Reid

Don’t they just look delicious?

No visit to Perth is complete without a stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. As time was limited, we visited the one in the Swan Valley. They make beautiful little individual chocolates but I usually buy their chocolate buttons. They’re divine!

Photo by Michele Reid

More yummy chocolates

Photo by Michele Reid

Giant freckle chocolates

We also visited Caversham Wildlife Park. We have visited some of the other wildlife parks but not this one and we really enjoyed it. They breed white kangaroos and we even saw a mommy with a joey in her pouch. You just saw long legs sticking out! They had a wide variety of bird species found not only in WA but around Australia. Naturally my favourite were the koalas. They are just too adorable!

Photo by Michele Reid

Wallabies relaxing

Photo by Michele Reid

Super cute baby kangaroo, known as a joey

Photo by Michele Reid

One of the white kangaroos

Photo by Michele Reid

White mommy kangaroo with her joey’s legs sticking out from the pouch

Photo by Michele Reid

A Kookaburra. I love the sound they make!

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautiful Dingo

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable koala. How can you not love them?

Photo by Michele Reid

Close up of the koala

Another stop was at The Pinnacles.  There is no agreed theory on how these were formed, but it makes for a very strange landscape. We spotted a bobtail lizards and some Galahs flying about and making a noise.

Photo by Michele Reid

The Pinnacles with dunes in the background

Photo by Michele Reid

The Pinnacles

Photo by Michele Reid

Me trying to get creative

Photo by Michele Reid

Galahs in flight

As my mother-in-law is a micro biologist, she really wanted to see the stromatolites at Lake Thetis. They’re living fossils and the ones found in this lake are about 3370 years old! It was quite windy but the view over the ocean was still beautiful.

Photo by Michele Reid

Stromatolites (the rock-like formations) in Lake Thetis

Photo by Michele Reid

Aqua water at Cervantes

I’ll be sharing some photos of our trip to Sydney soon! Stay tuned.

What was I thinking?

Made with the keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Hubby recently completed an Ironman 70.3. It’s a triathlon event of crazy distances (and this is only the half distance one!) He did extremely well and is already planning to better his time in the next Half Ironman. So all this got me thinking that it’s about time I participate in an event. I’m always on the side lines encouraging, but secretly I always wanted to in the event.

Last year I walked the Chevron City to Surf 12km and it felt really good to be part of the event (Hubby ran the half marathon). Well, this year I entered to run the 12km. It sounded like a good idea at the time…the weather was really nice, not too hot, not too cold…the sun was still rising nice and early. There’d be plenty of time to train for the event come August.

What I failed to take into consideration is that the weather is turning and it’s now pretty much the beginning of winter. The sun is no longer up when I wake up and I have to dress in several layers to go run…and I use the term ‘run’ loosely…it’s more walking with bursts of stumbling and hyperventilation in between.

Hubby, ever supportive, worked out a training plan for me last night and programmed it into his old heart rate monitor. So this morning I left the house, armed with the monitor, ready to get running. I switched the watch on and it immediately started to beep at me. How can my heart rate be too high already? I haven’t even started yet! Initially I thought it was just counting down the warm up, but it kept beeping the whole 30 minutes.

I tried to look professional by ‘casually’ pressing buttons in the hope to shut it up, but no luck. Maybe people thought it was some kind of warning beacon. ‘Watch out! Crazy lady huffing and puffing up ahead!’

Despite this, I actually managed to do something which resemble running for a few minutes, so perhaps all isn’t lost. During those few seconds I was ‘running’, I actually enjoyed it! Perhaps there’s hope for me yet and I might still finish the 12kms. Tomorrow is a yoga day, so I can stretch out those hips. I’ll definitely keep you posted with how things progress. Wish me luck!

Rishikesh, Delhi and home

We drove past Rishikesh up into the valley and stopped at a bend in the road. Apparently our guest house was down a steep, dirt pathway. Luckily some guys working at the guest house came up to help us with our luggage. Rainforest House in Rishikesh is an absolute gem. It’s so peaceful, there are only a few rooms, no tv’s and there’s a waterfall next to the building. We had a beautiful view of the Ganga, which I’m happy to say is clean and fast flowing this high up.

Photo by Michele Reid

The path leading down to Rainforest House

Photo by Michele Reid

Dining area at the Rainforest House

After some rice with bananas for supper (Pradeep insists it’s the best thing to eat when you’re sick), Hubby and I had the best night’s sleep. We had our doors open as it was nice and cool and we could listen to the waterfall as we fell asleep.

I managed to get some washing done and hung it out on the balcony, but some monkeys came chasing each other and left lots of tiny monkey paw prints all over our clothes.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cheeky Monkey

I was feeling much better and had some yummy banana and honey pancakes for breakfast along with freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. We hiked up the hill to meet Pradeep to do some sightseeing in Rishikesh. We walked across Lakshman Jhula, a suspension bridge that crosses the beautiful Ganga at the spot where Lord Vishnu’s brother, Lakshman, supposed crossed the river. Lord Vishu came to Rishikesh to do penance after killing the demon Ravana. A cheeky monkey stole a cooldrink bottle which he was enjoying at the top of the bridge.

Photo by Stephen Reid

View from the bridge

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cow traffic on the bridge

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sneaky monkey

Photo by Stephen Reid

Hmmm, refreshing!

I was so happy to see the Ganga flowing very strongly (thanks to all the snow melting a little higher up) and a school of huge fish congregating below the bridge. Pilgrims were feeding them on their way to temple.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ma Ganga flowing strongly in Rishikesh

We strolled through the town, sidestepping the odd cow. The pace in Rishikesh is much slower and it was quite relaxing going for a walk.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Statue of Lord Shiva on the banks of the Ganga

Photo by Stephen Reid

Statue of Hanuman

Photo by Stephen Reid

Another statue of Lord Shiva

Photo by Stephen Reid

Food stall in Rishikesh

I was feeling much better, the food at Rainforest House was just delicious and quite healthy and they really did take very good care of me. We spent our last day just relaxing and walked down to the river. My plan was to take a dip in the Ganga. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I can remember. Unfortunately as I dipped my feet into the water I realised even though it was a hot and humid day, the river was absolutely freezing. The roads to the pilgrimage sites further up the valley were still closed thanks to some late season snow falls and the river was being nicely cooled by all the melting ice. I had to make do with a ‘granny bath’, which meant pouring the water over my head instead.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ganga at Rainforest House

With all the really healthy and delicious vegetarian food we were being served (and they’re not shy with portions), I was feeling like my old self again. Reluctantly we left the tranquillity of Rainforest House to take our last journey in India, back to Delhi. The staff helped carry our bags up the steep hill where we were greeted by the ever smiling Pradeep. He’d been taking daily dips in the Ganga. As he swerved to avoid hitting another car driving up the wrong side of traffic, I heard a sploosh noise coming from the back of the car. A quick glance confirmed he was taking containers of Ganga water back home. I just prayed the noise won’t make we want to go to the bathroom soon.

We passed a huge statue of Lord Shiva in Haridwar (somehow Hubby didn’t spot it). As we travelled further the roads became more congested. Even Pradeep was getting stressed. Apparently lots of people were setting out on pilgrimages, but most people don’t drive often and don’t know the rules (yes, it looks chaotic but there are rules) and so places everyone’s lives at risk. We had a few near misses and it was probably the most stressful and unpleasant drive we had during our time in India.

Photo by Michele Reid

Huge statue of Lord Shiva in Haridwar

Photo by Michele Reid

A girl protecting herself from the dust in one of the cities we drove through

Photo by Michele Reid

Green countryside on our way back to Delhi

We eventually arrived back in Delhi safely. I really am a small town girl, while Delhi has spectacular monuments and amazing people, I’m just not keen on cities. After getting a bit lost, Pradeep dropped us off at a mall (I know, we’re in India and we’re going to a mall). The reason behind this was so I could add a Hard Rock guitar pin from Delhi to my collection.

We then made our way to our hotel close to the airport. The first room was horrible and stank of cigarette smoke, but thankfully the electricity wouldn’t work and we were given a much better alternative room.

Our view was the highway, but we were only going to be here one night so it didn’t matter. I managed to pick up a nasty cold on the drive back to Delhi so I collapsed on the bed to catch up with my daily dose of Bollywood which I was unable to do while in Rishikesh.

After a short night’s sleep it was time to bid India farewell. We arrived at the airport (at least this time I’m not sprawled out on the floor wishing I was dead like last time), booked in our luggage and got ready to go home.

As we took off, the sun was rising over Delhi and while I was glad to be going back to my bed and Mia, I would definitely miss India.

We had a stop over again at Changi Airport. This time we visited the butterfly garden. There really is so much to do there, definitely the best airport I’ve been at.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful blue butterfly

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

We arrived within the early hours of the morning back at home. Mia was very excited to see us. As we collapsed into bed to get a few hours sleep I realised that it’s dead quiet. No cars hooting. I actually struggled to fall asleep, I’ve gotten used to the noise that’s part of every Indian city.

There are many things that I loved about India. Ok, so the getting sick part wasn’t great, but the positive definitely far outweighs getting sick. Some of the things I’ll cherish include the incredibly friendly people who often would go out of their way to talk to us or help us, the delicious food, the beautiful colours and the rich history the country has.

A very special thanks has to go out to our amazing driver Pradeep. I’m sure our families are very much thankful to him for keeping an eye on Hubby and myself. He was our tour guide while we were driving from one town to another, pointing out important shrines and explaining local customs. Each day he would answer Hubby’s many questions with much patience (like trying to figure out which direction we were heading in. It became part of our daily ritual as Hubby tried to figure it out, much to Pradeep’s amusement) and of course, making sure we were kept out of harm’s way while we out on the busy and often terrifying roads.

Shimla and Dehradun

The car smelt of incense, a smell I love. Pradeep performs his morning religious puja in the car. He greeted us with his usual smile as he helped to load our luggage into the car. Soon we were driving off making our way to Shimla, India’s honeymoon capital. Shimla was also the summer capital of the British raj and many of the buildings look like they would be more at home in England. While Shimla is only 145km from Mandi, due to the road condition, it took us about 5 hours to get there.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Shimla

Photo by Stephen Reid

The view from The Mall 

We stayed at Clark’s Hotel which is located on the Mall. The Mall is a road which runs along the ridge of the mountain and is closed to all motorised traffic. After a wonderful shower, we decided to head out and get some lunch.

Photo by Michele Reid

Our super comfy bed and wonderful room at Clark’s Hotel.

Newly wed couples were strolling along, eating ice cream while families were enjoying the afternoon sunshine. We passed some very British looking buildings enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. We were walking when I felt something bump my leg. I turned around to find a baby monkey jumped on me. He quickly jumped back onto the fence. You have to look out for the monkeys in Shimla (and most other cities), as they’re quite sneaky and good at stealing food, cameras and pretty much anything they can get their hands on. We got stopped by a local taking his dog for a walk. He was interested in where we were from and hoped we enjoy our stay. Once again, I just love how friendly the people in India are.

Photo by Michele Reid

Church in Shimla

Photo by Michele Reid

British influence in Shimla

Photo by Michele Reid

The tallest Hanuman statue in the world

We had a nice lunch and made our way back to the hotel. We decided to make the most of our luxurious accommodation and later that afternoon made our way to the bar where we had a drink and watched the storm coming in. Dinner was absolutely delicious and we got to enjoy a really good night’s sleep.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Storm clouds rolling in

Photo by Stephen Reid

View of the thunder storm from the bar in Clark’s Hotel

We had an early breakfast and said goodbye to the friendly staff at Clark’s in Shimla. Once again Pradeep was waiting for us, smiling as usual. We set off on the twisting roads, descending back towards the plains. I was feeling a bit off but figured it must be all the twists and turns making me car sick.

As we got closer to the plains we stopped for some petrol as they were striking in the next state and we weren’t sure if we would be able to fill up there. We seemed to attract quite a lot of attention; I don’t think many tourists go that way.

Soon we were back on our way heading for Dehradun. We were just spending the night there on our way to Rishikesh. As we entered the city we spotted about 100 army guys cycling. Pradeep told us they first get bicycles, and once they’ve mastered that, they move up to motorbikes, cars and so forth. It was quite a sight to see these tough looking guys all cycling across the road.

We arrived at our hotel late that afternoon and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Our room was tiny, dirty and had absolutely no airflow. After a dismal late lunch we retreated to watch some daily dose of Bollywood. By dinner time I wasn’t feeling too well so we got room service. All I could manage was 2 bites of briyani before I had to make a run for the bathroom. Yep, whatever bug I picked up was still apparently thriving in my stomach. I spent the rest of the night hugging the bucket next to the bed. I tried some of the medicine we still had but couldn’t keep them down long enough for them to start working.

After a sleepless night we left as soon as we could and decided to forgo our complimentary breakfast. Pradeep seemed worried that I was still not well and we stopped yet again at another pharmacy and Hubby got me my second course of antibiotics for the holiday. We drove through beautiful forests and soon saw a glimpse of the mighty Ganga. As I wasn’t feeling well we headed straight to our next guest house hoping it was better than the place we slept last night.