Posted in Artistic Midwife, Czech Republic, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Prague 2018, Prague Markets, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Romancing the Creative Spirit, Travelling Solo, Wild Play

The Art of Overseas Gift Shopping

1950’s Bohemian Crystal Beads and Brooch

Wiki How, which claims to explain how to do almost anything, actually has an interesting page about how to buy Souveniers and Gifts Overseas! Needless to say, I only found this page as I prepared to write this post.

Happily, I only intended to buy a couple of gifts while away, but I must admit that, as I walked up along the streets towards the Old Town Square in Prague, I felt despondent! I was not impressed with the tacky tourist offerings. I was looking for posters but instead saw cheap teatowels, postcards, magnets and assorted junk that I wouldn’t even buy for our ‘who can choose the tackiest, ugliest Christmas present’ contest.

Map of Zizkov

As my day for departure drew closer and I had no more success in the villages we visited,  I had all but given up! Then, as if by magic, (well Google actually) I found out about Bohemian Retro. Even with a map in hand, I had trouble navigating my way to this small vintage store which turned out to be only a few streets away from my Airbnb! Believe it or not, when I staggered into Palac Acropolis Retro (which includes a bar and restaurant) to ask for directions, I found the owners of Bohemian Retro having their lunch. I decided that lunch was actually a very good idea and enjoyed an authentic Czech meal served with the most amazing mashed potato of all things – all for little more than five Australian dollars.

On their web page, Bohemian Retro include snippets from the press that they have clearly enjoyed. One fan writes that

If you want to be cheered up, feel welcomed, find something unique and totally in your price range, and walk out feeling better than you did when you arrived – then definitely come here and visit Becky

In fact I don’t even know why I’m raving about this place because it just means you might go and buy something that I’ve been eyeing .. But there are always some surprises waiting so be sure to visit and take a look!

As a Buy Nothing New, vintage shop, charity shop fan, I was certainly cheered up as I rummaged through the piles of goodies. Bohemian Retro is the kind of place I take people on mystery writing tours because the goods have so many stories to tell.

Ultimately it was the 1950’s  Bohemian Crystal bead necklaces that were affordable and not from the heavily branded company with stores up and down the alleyways of popular tourist villages, which caught my eye – along with some delightful brooches.

Completely satisfied with my selections, carefully placed into lovely old jewellery boxes at no extra expense, I treated myself to a tiny hand-stitched wall hanging to pin with a host of other things I have on pinboards, located, believe it or not, in my toilet. Ask my friends! Complete with fairy lights it is quite a gallery there now!

On my final day in Prague, inspired by my success at Bohemian Retro, I intended to visit a charity store I discovered was within walking distance from my apartment.  Alas, it was closed, as was the Poster studio I had found out about. But back at the market, I managed to pick up some cool second-hand books! Another time I will be better prepared and I will have researched and identified precisely where to go.

Posted in Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Artistic Almshouse, Bohemia, Czech Republic, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Interpreting Spaces, Kuta Hora Sedlec Ossuary, Prague 2018, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Romancing the Creative Spirit, Travelling Solo

Solo Traveller – iPhone Story Starters

During my seven days in the Czech Republic, to quote Thoreau, I chose to ‘live deliberately’, mindfully and with intention. For most of the time in Prague, I stayed clear of the primary tourist haunts. However, I took the advice dispensed by sites like Solo Traveller and booked two tours that took me out to villages in the Bohemian countryside.

I stepped on to the tour buses with an open mind, prepared to relinquish my abhorrence of guided tours for two single day trips. Needless to say, I found kindred spirits on board and we shared many laughs, sat over lunch and had fascinating conversations that I will not forget. One of my companions was with a group of architects who had been given a ‘Victoria and Albert’ style ticket to Prague to enrich their understanding of architecture. Martha, like me, was taking photographs of details rather than broad sweeping vistas!

Each photograph here tells a story, brings back memories of day trips I will never forget, largely because I mindfully planned and navigated them by myself.

Posted in A Donkey and A Raven, Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Heather Blakey, Pencil Drawings, Wild Play

We Were Not Made for the Same Road

A Donkey and A Raven: Ignoring Piper’s Call: Heather Blakey 2018

Estragon: Wait! (He moves away from Vladamir). I wonder if we wouldn’t have been better off alone, each one for himself. (He crosses the stage and sits down on the mould). We weren’t made for the same road.

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Akari Write Your Own Adventure, Apothecary for the Creative Spirit, Art and Healing, Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Aussie Birds and Animal Wisdom, Aussie Birds and Animals, Dog Rocks Mount Alexander, Expressive Arts, Heather Blakey, Interpreting Spaces, Just Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Resilience, Rock Art, Stone People, Wild Play

Dog Rocks – Still-observing

 

Today I was called upon to drive up to Dog Rocks on nearby Mount Alexander to still-observe. The call was quite insistent! I considered finding a space closer to home but the voice calling me would not be silenced.

Dog Rocks are near the peak of Mt Alexander. They comprise of huge, picturesque granite outcrops. Over the years, they’ve become a favourite stopover landmark for bushwalkers and a popular spot for climbers and artists. Rock climbers were working the main area so I clambered into a quieter space, hoping that a ‘significant’ creature would make its presence felt. However, only the Australian Blowflies buzzed noisily around me as I examined a vulva like a passageway leading through an outcrop.

I quickly decided that blowflies are far from insignificant. They do make their presence felt! Blowflies have been deemed to be vehicles of death, decay and destruction; envoys of evil, sin and pestilence by the Christians. However, some African tribes celebrate a Fly-god, with the fly revered as an embodiment of the soul. As such flies are never killed.

I have been guilty of being homicidal with blowflies but I was rehabilitated after vomiting repeatedly when cleaning up a mass of dead flies seven years ago. Now I quietly encourage them to leave the premises; refrain from having toxic sprays in the house.

As I contemplated the blowflies I thought of the small house fly who has quite literally been the ‘fly on the wall’over recent days! This small creature has been persistently invading my space, eavesdropping, circling around my fingers as I type, soaking up knowledge, urging me to develop my senses and become more observant.

Let’s face it! It is almost impossible to dissuade flies from persistently swarming about us when we are outdoors. The presence of flies affirms the quick and abrupt changes in my thoughts, emotions and endeavours. Rapid changes in all aspects of my life are currently taking place and the ever-persistent fly is reminding me not to give up. It is persistence which will enable me to reach goals and bear fruit sooner than later.

Even if it means annoying others or being selfish for a while I do have the ability to accomplish my goals. My current goals are to trust the process and complete the final year of my Masters of Social Work; spend 52 weeks learning from Australian birds and animals. Still hunting is a part of the 52 week process! I am carefully recording my observations.

As I sat at Dog Rocks I noted the call of the Kookaburra and the footfall of rock climbers clambering to find places to test their skills. But it was the brown butterflies who danced around me and who led me to find a small magic circle, formed by ancient granite.

Butterfly seemed to be asking me to go on with the clearance I have been facing, embrace changes in my environment and to work with my emotional body. The energy supporting a physical transformation of energy was all about me. It is time to release any expectations and simply allow change to flow through and around me.

Posted in Art and Healing, Artistic Midwife, Heather Blakey, Wild Play

Wild Play – Who Will I Be Today?

I have it on good authority that 12 Fairy Penguins are coming on the twelfth day of Christmas to invite everyone to play.

It is important to remember that we are here to work at living not, as some do, live to work. I sometimes think there is another life I might have lived!

After spending a month, thinking up creative activities as a part of the While Waiting for Godot Advent-ure calendar, I am thinking that perhaps I will take the radical step of doing some of the activities I have suggested.

I am thinking that, while I go on waiting for Godot to reveal what I am supposed to be doing, I will ask the creative force how we should play. We might just find some wild, playful activities!  Anita  Marie Moscoso engaged in some wild play with her family and they all appear to have had a lot of fun!

One day at a time! To begin, all I need to do is decide who I will be today! How will the creative spirit and I play today?

After trawling my Flickr file I am reminded that I have many aspects! I have been many people! Will I be a pirate, a belly dancer, a traveller arriving at the City of Ladies or a Ferry Woman preparing to take people to the Isle of Ancestors? Will I read my tarot or slip through a portal, travel the Dak road and find a secret cottage to stay in?

Decisions! Decisions! Ellen Uma Bard who goes Wherever the Wind Takes Her offers 99 suggestions about how to play. How will you play today? Who will your be?

Posted in Artistic Almshouse, Artistic Midwife, Dak Bungalows, Heather Blakey, Purveyor of Creative Stimuli, Self Portraiture

Towards a New Shore

Turtle symbolizes both new beginnings and endings. It is the ending of something that allows space for something new to arise. This ending may be an outer circumstance or a change or shift that occurs within ourselves. There may be a sense of loss or even grief over what has passed and yet it is through the energy of Turtle who is very long-lived and thus very wise, that we can come to understand why something did need to leave our lives. Turtle can help lead us to that space where we can finally move on, to let go of what has been, celebrate it for the gifts it gave us and finally to turn and head for a new shore.

I found it no surprise that as 2018 dawned Green Turtles swam into my life to affirm that a shift has taken place and it is time to leave the past behind.

These drawings depict some aspects of who I have been. I have been an Enchantress, Sibyl Riversleigh and Ebony Wilder, the Riversleigh housekeeper who comes out as a pirate, and leads adventures around the Lemurian Archipelago. I have been the spirit of a volcano, an Abbess presiding over the Lemurian Abbey and the keeper of the alluvial mine.

Now I am simply Heather, artistic midwife, purveyor of creative stimuli! I am happy to travel alone but delighted to find companions as I travel. It is not particularly important where I finally come ashore.

I am reminded of the much-loved poem, Ithaka! It is the journey that is important. For now, I am looking at where I am right now. From a creative point of view, right now I have established a virtual base in an Artistic Almshouse and I am doing some Dak Bungalow hopping.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Posted in Lemurian Adventures, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Self Portraiture

An Inner World Revealed

This is a collection of drawings I did while I was travelling, with a host of companions,   in Lemuria. Many of these are self-portraits!  Over a five year period,  while my late husband was battling cancer, and often confined to bed, I spent my nights drawing, Looking at these drawing now I can see that I managed to capture the inner world that sustained me during those long years. After walking away from my life in the city, and reinventing myself, my pencils have lain idle! They served me well! Today I give thanks to them, and to all those who fearlessly travelled those Lemurian roads with my multiple personalities!
Heather Blakey
Pencil Drawings – Enhanced in Photoshop! 2005 – 2010

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Cemetery Explorers, Contemplative Practice, Elphingstone Cemetery, Nature Fix

Idyllic Bush Resting Place

Bush songs devised by ordinary, everyday people are a record of the people’s experiences of living, surviving and dying in the bush, as well as the colourful slang of bush life.

 

Today, on my way back from meeting a friend at Malmsbury for lunch, I saw a sign, that I had never noticed before, pointing to the Elphinstone Cemetery. It was quite a trek, along an unsealed road, to find this well maintained old cemetery. At the time when it was established in Elphinstone, there would have been more bush to be seen. Today you pass by properties on acreage!

What is it about ‘the bush’ that is so special to Australians? The bush has an iconic status in Australian life and features strongly in any debate about national identity, especially as expressed in Australian literature, painting, popular music, films and foods.

The bush was something that was uniquely Australian and very different to the European landscapes familiar to many new immigrants. The bush was revered as a source of national ideals by the likes of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. Romanticising the bush in this way was a big step forward for Australians in their steps towards self-identity. The legacy is a folklore rich in the spirit of the bush.

Many Australian myths and legends have emanated from the bush. Early bushranging – ranging or living off the land – was sometimes seen as a preferred option to the harsh conditions experienced by convicts in chains. Later bushrangers such as Jack Donohue, Ben Hall and Ned Kelly were seen as rebellious figures associated with bush life. Their bushmanship was legendary as well as necessary. Source: The Australian Bush

Posted in Advent Calendar 2017, Cemetery Explorers, Cemetery Exploring, Georgetown Penang, Headstone History

Penang’s First Lady – Martina Rozells

A Eurasian of Siamese and Portuguese descent, Martina Rozells, is said to be have been born in Thaland, Phuket and later became an adopted child of the Sultan of Kedah in what is today Malaysia – just south of Satun province in Thailand. She has variously been depicted as the a Siamese Princess, the Princess of Kedah

Much has been written about Francis Light, the founder of Penang, but little has been written about his beautiful Thai-Eurasian, common in law wife, Martina Rozells.

“Martina Rozells co-habited with Francis Light, the founder of Penang, for at least 22 years before his death from malaria in 1794. She bore him five (or possibly six) children, one of whom later became the founder of Adelaide in Australia. Founding a city must have been written into the genetic code of both father and son.

Over the years many romantic legends have been constructed about Martina, and the truth may never be fully known. One of the most exotic stories is that she was a princess of the royal house of Kedah and that the island of Penang was presented to her (and her husband) by the Sultan as her dowry. However, as the Sultan demanded tribute from Penang as recompense for revenue lost, this cannot be true. Along with this story is the notion that Light and Martina were actually married according to Malay customs; but they were not recognised by the East India Company.

Other versions of the Martina story dress her as a Catholic Eurasian of mixed Thai and Portuguese descent. One of the reasons for Light not marrying her might have been the fact that she was a Roman Catholic and he was a Protestant. The other is that she was almost certainly a Eurasian. It is hard for us to realise how much race counted for in the past. Being of mixed race was especially tricky because you belonged to neither side. Despite these prejudices, the Eurasian community has made a rich contribution in the field of Penang’s musical history, with artists like Jimmy Boyle, Joe Rozells, Larry Rodrigues, the Baum brothers, the Jeremiahs, Colleen Read and Leo Aeria. An equally important Eurasian heritage piece is in the field of food with such delights as Beef Semur, Chicken Devil Curry and Salted fish pickles – all Malaysian favourites even today. It is thought that Francis Light himself invited the first wave of Eurasian migrants to come to Penang in 1786, the year of the Colony’s founding and that subsequent migrants came from Phuket as well as Kedah.

Light died fairly young, but he had made exceptionally detailed provision for Martina in his will, which perhaps gives us an indication of the value placed upon common household objects in those days: “I give and bequeath unto the said Martina Rozells my bungalow in George Town with one set of mahogany tables, two card cables, two couches, two bedstead large and two small with bedding…. a dressing table and 18 chairs, two silver candle sticks, one silver teapot, two sugar dishes, twelve table spoons, twelve tea spoons, one soup spoon and all the utensils not under the stewards charge to be disposed of as she thinks proper without any limitation. I also give Martina Rozells four of my best cows and one bull….” (Quoted in Streets of George Town).

It is rather shameful that after Light’s death, his business partners tried to cheat Martina out of her inheritance by transferring his properties into their names. She struggled in the courts for many years perhaps hampered by being illiterate, as so many women were in those days. She did finally win justice in 1812 but by then, she had married John Timmins. Even the street which once bore her name, Martina’s Lane, has been renamed Leith Street Ghaut”.

taken from Expat Go

Wall and doorway between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Cemeteries. Photo from http://malaysianmeanders.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/penangs-colonial-past-at-old-protestant.html

It is not clear where Martina Rozells was buried but, given that she died in 1822 in Penang, it is quite possible that, as a Catholic, she was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, divided from the Protestant Cemetery by a wall.

Posted in Cemetery Exploring, Georgetown Penang, Headstone History, Protestant Cemetery Georgetown Penang

Georgetown Headstone History

For years it was known as the Pearl of the Orient. Then Penang lost its lustre, at least to the outside world as its importance on the globe’s trade routes lessened. But now, thanks to its unique architecture, fabulous cuisine and heady mix of tourist attractions, the famed city is bouncing back big time.

The Protestant Cemetery in Georgetown is the oldest Christian cemetery in Penang. Not far from the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, it is also called Northam Road Cemetery and was set up in the 18th-century for British colonial administrators, traders and missionaries that arrived after Penang’s establishment in 1786.

The Protestant church’s earliest grave is that of Captain Francis Light (one of the fathers of British colonialism in Southeast Asia). Other graves include those of James Richardson Logan (editor of the Penang Gazette) and Reverend Hutchings (early leader of St. George’s Church and founder of the Penang Free School). Movie buffs will be interested to know that Thomas Leonowens is buried here: he was 31 years-old when he passed away in 1859, leaving his widow stranded in the East. He was the husband of Anna, the self-same Anna of The King & I or Anna & the King fame.

While my daughter and I were holidaying in Georgetown this year we had a great rickshaw driver who made sure that we gained full benefit of the charm of this multi-cultural city. Before the heat engulfed us we arrived at this hauntingly beautiful cemetery. Our driver informed us that this is one of the oldest Christian cemetery of its kind, not only in Penang, but in the whole world, pre-dating even Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery, England’s Highgate Cemetery where Karl Marx is interred and even Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof, the largest cemetery on Earth. This is no Zentralfriedhof! Penang’s Old Protestant Cemetery is quite small—less than a block across. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character. A grove of gnarly frangipani trees covers the burial ground, graceful stone tombs in varying state of decay strewn across its grassy bed.

Sir Francis Light is arguably the most famous resident of the Old Protestent Cemetery, but his tomb does not stand out among others that are taller or grander than his. In 1786, he leased the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah on behalf of the British East India Company and thus ushered in centuries of British colonization in Southeast Asia. Light lived here for eight years before succumbing to malaria.

He left behind his common-law wife, Martina Rozells, and four children. Martina was Catholic, and marrying a Catholic was cause for dismissal from the British East India Company. So, he never officially declared themselves as married. Rozells ended up losing her entire inheritance to Light’s business partner since their union was not recognized by the church. Their son, Sir William Light, was the first Surveyor General of South Australia and is responsible for choosing the sight for and designing the layout of its capital, Adelaide.

Cemetery exploring is a wonderful way of learning more about a city. This slide show provides some more history of what we found to be a fabulous holiday destination.

Posted in Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Contemplative Practice, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Killing Time, Resilience

Stones Record Family Losses

In the first few years of the colony, mortality was very high, but the common childhood infections were absent until the 1830s. From the 1880s, there was a sustained decline in mortality from communicable diseases, and therefore in aggregate mortality, while maternal mortality remained high.

Some details included with photos.

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Akari Write Your Own Adventure, Cemetery Explorers, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Faded Central Victoria, Forgotten Central Victoria, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Resilience

Akari Writes Her Own Adventures

I am sure you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you’re chased by a tiger.  You can escape it by leaping into the ocean 50 feet below (go to page 48) or face the tiger with your homemade slingshot (go to page 128).

Akari (my Mazda 3) loves driving through roads with avenues of white-trunked eucalypts. Side roads beckon! It is hard for her to resist them. However, while she could be talked into some sophisticated adventuring, Akari is no risk taker. For the moment she finds it is exciting enough to explore hidden valleys and go down unmade roads that are not only reserved for four-wheel drives.

Akari and I were out messing about today and we wandered along out of the way, an unmade bush road called Providence Gully Road. When we turned off the road, along another unmade road, to head towards civilisation, we came upon this rather dramatic entrance to a property. We thought this might be just the setting to write your own adventure.

The gate is open!

You take the time talk to all the bones and heads that are decorating the gate to learn more about what really lies within.

OR

Thinking that Baba Yaga may live here and give you the creative fire you decide to ignore all the DO NOT ENTER signs and step through the portal into this private world.

OR

Because you are so imaginative you think of something else!

Melissa Pilakowski puts forward a fun version of writing your own adventure using Hamlet as a kick starter.

 

 

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Faded Central Victoria, Forgotten Central Victoria, Interpreting Spaces, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Old Roadside Stops

Faded Central Victorian Beauty

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades…. -Audrey Hepburn

I beg to differ…
there are many beauties…..
such as…

Fading Victoria