Thursday, 29 June 2017

Puffing Billy



Yesterday, toddler-boy and I went on a train trip. We wore scarves and gloves, beanies and two jackets. There are no windows on Puffing Billy and the temperatures in winter are quite chill for Australia.
Nanny and toddler boy in front of the train engine
Louis, who is now an official volunteer with the Puffing Billy team, invited us along as his guests. Thank you Louis.
Louis the volunteer

 I haven't been to Puffing Billy since I was a child so I had a child's delight in rediscovering the fun of travelling very slowly up a tree covered hill in Dandenong Ranges.
up the hill and around the bend

I mentioned to Louis that it would almost be faster to walk but getting somewhere fast is not the point of Puffing Billy. If I had been a little less svelte challenged I would have eagerly sat on the window ledge with my legs sticking out. Toddler-boy was happy to do so while the train was stationary at the platform.
Toddler boy sitting on the window ledge

 We stopped at Lakeside for an hour and a half and had lunch by the lake (yes there is one) with a few colourful companions.
Rosellas at lunch

You can look at all the professional photographs and read about the mountains and the train on the official sites if you follow the links but here on my blog I am just going to tell you I had a fabulous day.  Thank you Louis and the Puffing Billy team.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A night in Ballan

Tonight was the celebration of an idea.
 Ballan, the tiny town with a big heart, has hosted the Black Lite Black Nite festival for the past week,
 A small but dedicated group of artists, many of whom belong to the wombat regional arts group  decided to create a community event in Ballan to get people together. Many other creative organisations from quilters to writers and plenty of eager children from the local schools, made some quirky fun and beautiful pieces of art for the festival. I contributed a few pieces as an individual artist and as a member of the Moorabool Writers Craft group.

The art was created with a view of having it glow under UV light and the local businesses enthusiastically supported the display of art in their windows.

The town lit up. Many people came from far and wide to see the window displays including myself who dragged one of my sons and grandsons out into the chilly winter evening, well rugged up to go and see.

As a contributor I was invited to attend the final night celebration at the Mechanics Institute Hall in the main street of Ballan and what a lovely night I had. 
I was greeted at the door by Carmel, who I have only met once, with an enormous smile and a hug and a genuine desire to see that I was ok. She made me feel very welcome. As a stranger in town on my own it is a bit daunting to step into a hall full of people who have known each other for years but I sat at a table with a local couple who also made me feel very welcome.

The very new Ballan CWA put on free soup and cup cakes in the supper room and it was so delicious I had two cups of soup and three cup cakes. They were too good to resist.

The CWA also had a raffle to raise funds for homeless youth.Guess who won the first prize? Yes me!
I won a beautiful handcrafted huggle rug made from preloved clothing and stitched with love. I spoke to the creator of the rug, Symone Barry, and she told me she was launching herself into a new career, reinventing herself as an artisan of hand made works that hold a story for each piece of fabric she puts into them. I was so excited to win this beautiful piece and hugged it to me, however another person had had her heart set on it so as I left I gave it to her and wished her happy birthday. I hope she loves it. 

Symone Barry thank you for the beautiful rug. I had a triple dose of wonderful tonight, first speaking to you about your craft, wining the rug and then gifting it to a stranger.

As for the rest of the evening, there was plenty of toe tapping live music with a variety of bands. I found myself smiling all night with the friendliness of the locals, good food, good music and a fabulous cause to support - community.  Well done Ballan and thank you.