Photo101 Day 1 Home

Today is day one of Photo 101, and this is our assignment:

Home is elusive. When we think about this word, we might picture different physical locations. And while home is often found on a map, it can also be less tangible: a loved one, a state of mind.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for some time knows what home means to me. It is Australia, and for some reason, the first thing I think of is the gum trees.

Gum Tree

Gum Tree

They come in many varieties and I love them all. Some have stunning blooms, some have flowers that infuse the surrounding air with the scent of honey, some have thin leaves, some have fat leaves. Generally, they are messy and drop twigs, bark, and branches often, but still, I love them.



The gum tree that frames most of my sunset photos.

The gum tree that frames most of my sunset photos.

They provide a home to many of Australia’s unique birds and animals, species that can’t be found elsewhere in the world; cockatoos, kookaburras, rosellas, and koalas.

On the rare occurrences that I found a gum tree when I was living in Florida and Scotland, I’d always pick a leaf, scrunch it up, and hold it to my nose to inhale the eucalyptus scent. I’ve always loved it, and in my time away, it was my favourite reminder of what ‘Home’ was to me.

Gum leaves

Gum leaves

One of my goals for this year was to brush up on my photography skills before I leave on my next big adventure, so I jumped at the opportunity to do the WordPress Photo 101 course.

Since returning to Australia nineteen months ago, I’ve been reluctant to leave again. My husband loves to travel and thankfully, he likes to take me with him most of the time, which was great until we moved back home. I guess I’ve been feeling a little guilty about not travelling with him, which was why I told him I’d found the one trip that would induce me to leave the country again – an arctic cruise.

The trip is now booked, our departure date is September 2nd, and I’m excited. I’m hoping that taking a photo a day for Photo 101 will force me to learn more about my camera, perhaps become a little more creative with my photos, and help prepare me for the stunning images I hope to take on my arctic cruise.


Fire Jan 2014

Photo by Cindy Townsend

I’ve often wondered how I would react if I lost my home in some natural disaster – hurricane, tornado, or fire. It’s one of those questions which fortunately, most people will never know the answer to, but whenever I’ve watched news reports of people who have been evacuated because of a natural event, I’ve always been able to relate to how frustrating it must be for them to be unable to get to their home and discover if it is still standing.

Yesterday, I found myself in that position.

It was the first of four days of predicted high temperatures, and true to form, there were many fires scattered around the state and country. One was very close to our home, but I was not home at the time and the first I knew about it was when my brother called me to ask if it was near me.

By that stage, all access roads to the area were closed as there were multiple spot fires resulting from the main one. I was stuck at my daughter’s home, wondering how big the fire was and if I should be concerned. My niece alerted me to the Country Fire Association’s great Fire Ready App where warnings and alerts are posted. It advised that residents around the area should evacuate.

For a couple of hours, I kept checking the site, as well as Facebook where locals were updating us on what they could see of the fires, until eventually, the CFA site informed us that all the fires were contained and the roads would open within the hour.

Getting home was slower than usual, as some local roads were still blocked, but I’m very glad I had a home to get to. I knew when we moved into our lovely home, nestled on the side of a hill and backed by a national park, that the fire risk would be greater than it has been in any other home I’ve lived in. I was, and still am willing to take that risk because it is a beautiful place to live.

Unfortunately, the initial blaze sparked another large fire in the wonderful restaurant at the historic Heronswood Property a little further down the hill from us. The Thatched Cafe was destroyed, but thankfully the Homestead is okay.

I hate to think how their magnificent heritage gardens fared.

Today, I packed a bag with my old non-digital photos and a few other documents to keep in the car so I don’t have to worry about being caught off-guard like that again. I also wandered around the streets near where the main fires were and have to add that I’m incredibly impressed that the firefighters managed to save the houses that were right next to the flames. They do an incredible job and I’m very grateful for their service, along with the constant updates I received on the  CFA Fire Ready App. I’d highly recommend everyone living in a fire risk area to download it.

Today, throughout Australia, there are still many fires burning. My thoughts go out to the hardworking firemen fighting them, as well as those who have lost their homes and those who wait for news, unsure of the fate that awaits them.

I’m very aware how lucky I am.


Moving Panic

How To Stop Panic Attacks

I’m having fleeting moments of panic when I think of all the little jobs I’ve yet to do before the big M day. The only solution is to get serious about this moving business and begin working at it. In an attempt to prevent my head from imploding, I made the following list for myself more than anyone else, but it may prove handy for others planning an international move. I’m sure most people would have done a lot more by this stage, which is why I was too embarrassed to make it public until I could cross off at least a few of the items.

  1. Book move and fill out formal paperwork
  2. Complete customs forms
  3. Send Invitations to Farewell Party
  4. Prepare for Farewell Party
  5. Farewell Party – that was great fun!
  6. Notify Dentist


    notify_me (Photo credit: Inspiredhomefitness)

  7. Notify Doctor
  8. Cancel house insurance
  9. Cancel car Insurance
  10. Notify Gas and Electricity
  11. Notify water
  12. Notify telephone, television and broadband company
  13. Notify bank
  14. Notify postal service
  15. Arrange mail forwarding
  16. Notify city council
  17. Notify milkman
  18. Notify change of address with Australian companies – rates, water, taxes, MCC, insurance, shares
  19. Sorting through papers, clothes and other items we no longer need and giving them away – aaaagh!
  20. Marketing book – what book?
  21. Writing – what’s that?
  22. Blogging -struggling.
  23. Keeping up with everyday activities like cooking, eating, cleaning, washing, ironing – struggle getting bigger every day.
  24. Super clean of house after furniture gone – frightening prospect
  25. Super tidy of garden – what if I leave this to last, and it pours with rain????
  26. Notify friends and family of move.

It actually doesn’t look that bad when I list it like this. Of course, the other small disruption I have going on is that my daughter and her friend are staying with us at the moment, and they are extremely busy making a movie, The Pull. Read more about it here. Many of the scenes in the movie are set in our home, so some days are far more discombobulating than others – the days when the crew are filming in my kitchen or living spaces. It sounds like the worst of possible times for this to be happening, but in reality, I think it is providing me with a wonderful distraction. Watching how low budget movies are made is fascinating, chatting to the crew and cast is fun, and overall it’s exciting. Far better than stressing or losing my head!