Monday 31 October 2011

Dorrigo Bluegrass Festival 2011

In the last couple of years Scott has embraced Bluegrass music as his genre of choice. I think part of the reason behind this is it's relaxed nature and community spirit; when jamming and playing everyone is usually pretty laid back and everyone gets a chance to shine, I think they call it "taking a break".

In Sydney town he used to frequent the Annandale Bluegrass society monthly get togethers and really, really loved it, he felt welcomed and inspired, it was very cool to watch. Since that time he has purchased a banjo, fiddle and mandolin and can kind of get away with playing all of them (as is his way, damn him and his multi-instrumental talents), but continues to shine with a guitar by his side.For those out there who know not of Bluegrass and I am sure there are plenty of you out there. As far as I can gather, in Bluegrass there are banjos, guitars, fiddles, mandolins, double bass, dobros, harmonicas but NO DRUMS. Some musical examples include a lot of the "O brother where art thou" soundtrack, Alison Krauss and Union Station , Bill Monroe and then at a stretch Old Crow Medicine Show, well, they are really Americana but they are totally awesome so are definitely worth a look in.
Anywhoo, as mentioned Scott is totally into Bluegrass and usually just listens to the great stuff but sometimes.... the hoe-downs become just a bit too much and I have to hide the clogs and tell him to calm down.  He frequents Bluegrass festivals and workshops but never so close to home as The Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival, which is conveniently located just a 30 minute drive up the winding and a little treacherous road to Dorrigo (think Peruvian mountainside) and this time the whole family had a chance to get their Bluegrass on. 

pre gig rehearsal
Yet again we had a house full as Nick and Lyn from Dear Orphans and their two medium sized kids; Zoe and Libby up from Sydney and mandolin player and friend Phil Upton also from Sydney on the pilgrimage to the festival. So with that much enthusiasm in the house it was pretty exciting as we woke Saturday morning, gathered the troops and made the trip up the mountain. When we arrived it was a little chillier than expected, being in the mountains and all and the size of the festival was a lot smaller than I anticipated. Basically it was a strip of grass and a couple of old weatherboard halls, hmmm.

But luckily before long the sun broke through the low lying clouds, people started to arrive and I was amazed at the transformation of this lowly "strip". There were a couple of big old trees providing some great shade, where everyone parked their picnic rugs and from this vantage point you could basically see where the kids were at any given moment, as well as all sorts of folk jamming about the place, flags flying against the blue sky and people strolling by. Wonderfully, the festival is alcohol free, probably one of the only ones in Australia. It was really cruisey and highly entertaining, even me, someone who doesn't really rate Bluegrass as the music I would listen to above everything else, totally enjoyed it all. There were some really cool acts.

Speaking of cool acts, back to Scott. Scott's band is called The Mid-North and I use 'band' as a very loose term, it is a kind of hobbled together group and the extremely talented musicians who played with him at the festival had never played together before (the first full rehearsal of the band was an hour before the show). There is a somewhat dearth of Bluegrass musicians in this area so the band is mainly Scott and a couple of people he borrows from other bands both in Bellingen and Sydney. The Mid-North were the first act on the Saturday morning and they were great (without any bias this is based purely on public feedback). The lunch pavilion (where they played) was totally packed and people were applauding with great gusto, laughing appropriately and singing along. What a festival debut! can check it out for yourselves.

Footage courtesy of Rachel Woolhouse

Now to the other cool acts:
Dear Orphans
Mithra from The Lurkers

We made a special trip up to see The Lurkers on the Sunday, they were as they always are, super entertaining and totally inspiring. Poe and Ilo were particularly thrilled to see them, as the last time they danced to them was nearly a year ago at the Peats Ridge Festival. Unfortunately their favourite song "Padlock and Chain" wasn't sung but their second favourite song, "North Shore Pirates" was performed so all was forgiven.

Martin from The Lurkers

Mithra and Griffin (for those Lurker friends in Sydney and Bega)
Another band that was pretty great, but I didn't photograph was The Perch Creek Family Jugband, a band with six members, a number of whom are related. Totally quirky cool with retro stylings and a huge variety of bluegrassy instruments; you don't see enough jugs being played nowadays. Take that as you will. 

The jamming that was happening everywhere (and anywhere) was particularly lovely, perched under the shade of a big tree, eating picnic treats, watching Poe and Ilo hang out with friends, whilst listening to my lovely one sing and have so much fun, was all pretty wonderful. So anyone planning their Bellingen 2012 visit, keep in mind that a whole world of Bluegrass can be pretty great and worth a look in. 

Saturday 29 October 2011

a birthday celebration

In Steiner schools, birthdays are big deals, each child has a day dedicated to their birth, a birthday celebration. A week or so ago we had the great honour of celebrating Poe's birth, Steiner style and oh my goodness what a special event it was.

We arrived at preschool at about 11 and were shown to a little wooden chair, next to a very special chair that was draped in beautiful golden starry fabric. There was a ring of chairs and in front of the "very special" chair was a table with five coloured candles, some flowers and a bell.
We noticed that Paige then went over to Poe and said "Poe, it's time to come with Paige now" in a beautiful and gentle sing-song voice. Poe and Paige went to a room to get ready, oh my goodness, Poe's face was so wonderful as he took her hand, he looked like he was going to burst with joy and specialness.

 All the other children came and sat around the ring of chairs and then Poe and Paige came out, Poe was wearing a golden crown and a beautiful silk cloak. He looked like, if possible, that he might burst with even more joy than before, he was utterly brimming with excitement, but also oh so focused on what was happening. Paige walked with Poe around the ring, singing a song about Poe being a little star in the sky and how he  fell to earth when he was born, Scott and I both felt an immediate shortness of breath and our eyes welled with tears, it was so precious. 
Poe then came and sat in the (you guessed it) "very special" chair and as Paige lit each candle we told a story from each year of his life. We spoke about when he was born, his special morning walks with Scott in the hug-a-bub when he was very little, the time he tried to speak to a dog by barking at it, his very special relationships with his friends, becoming a big brother and moving to Bellingen. 

The last story included the first song Poe had written; "Poe's Garden" and so we handed out some instruments and Scott played the ukelele and sang, it was really fun seeing everyone get involved and for Poe to see his friends perform his song. Poe then used the snuffer to put out each of the five candles and then we sat at the table and Poe, with the assistance of Ilo, cut the cake and delivered the cake to all of his friends. We then spent an hour or so playing mums and dads, sharks, squirrels, removalists, cooking and dress ups with all the other kids, so super cool.

All of the kids in Poe's class made special cards for him, with beautiful messages inside. He was also given a little knitted cat as a present.

We really love that the school celebrates the child in such a simple and beautiful way, through stories, songs and love.
That night in bed, Poe was talking about what a special day it was, he said "I felt like everyone just loved me and nobody else". As a five year old, feeling like that would feel pretty special, I am happy that Poe felt so honoured.

Monday 24 October 2011

a day

Just a day, a day full of glitter, dress-ups, dancing, digging and baths. This is how we recovered after the weekend away in Port Macquarie (yes, I am still a week behind).  

We now have a bath, Scott has been talking about it for a while now and then managed to pick one up at the secondhand shop. As we are renting we aren't about to start renovating the bathroom so the bath is outside. There is something so surprisingly wonderful about seeing the sky whilst being in a bath, so far my skies have only been blue but I can't wait for a sky full of stars.

As lovely as the day was, I am pretty sure it ended in tears, sometimes too much fun is just too much.

Saturday 22 October 2011

the circus and the whales

Last weekend we journeyed to Port Macquarie to see Circus Oz and oh my goodness, it was absolutely and utterly amazing. We have seen and loved Circus Oz before and I am sure we will continue to love them forever more. Have you seen them before? If not you must, I hear they are visiting Sydney in January. This is not just a circus for kids, it is for everyone, the performers are seriously cool, extremely clever and super inspiring. 

This is the type of circus where you would encourage your child to runaway and join it. Poe was in absolute delight the whole time, he laughed, he slapped his knees, his eyes sparkled, he gazed in awe, I was torn between watching him and watching the greatness unfolding in front of me. Ilo on the other hand, heard, saw and said "Booba", he nestled in, he put my hand over his ear and then listened to me as I told him what was happening, he would look up, laugh, ask questions and then snuggle back into his safe space. 

We stayed at the Mercure, which Poe and Ilo loved, all the little things, the beds, the view, the desk for their very important work. 

Before the circus we stopped into a couple of op shops, as is our way, and Poe bought the Ernie for Ilo, as a late birthday present and because he was so adamant Ilo would just love it. Ilo awoke to Ernie (he was asleep on my shoulder) and was smitten, he immediately named him Manu (my brother) and professed his love and how Manu was his friend and how Ilo had to look after him. Manu then came to the circus with us and has been a very special part of our lives ever since. 

The sculpture walk was quite interesting with a recycling/waste theme. Drawing attention to how much waste is found on and in our coastal areas. Oh with regards to this, check out this beautiful and simple idea that a friend is putting out there. Simple ideas are very often the best.

The next morning we had breakfast at Lighthouse Beach and as we headed there we spied whales, yes, whales, could this weekend get any better? We went up to the Lighthouse and we saw at least seven and even heard them as they spouted from their blowholes. And as we glanced across the horizon we could see whales spotted here and there. Pretty magical, it was the most amount of whales I have seen in one go and the closest I have ever seen them. I particularly loved that when I rang mum (who loves whale watching) to tell her all about it, she was also whale watching on the coast. 

I only had my prime lens, so couldn't actually zoom, but at least these provide some kind of proof.

Friday 21 October 2011

handmade bits

With so many posts about lovely friends I realised that I have neglected to include a few awesome pieces of handcrafted goodness that have been welcomed into our home. 

a selection of the beautiful handcrafted birthday gifts for Ilo and Poe
The hat that Annie made during her visit
partnered with that amazing bolero
and a long time favourite skirt, also by
pearl& elspeth

Dyed doilies for a special alteration job for Poe's
teacher, Paige. This was entirely out of my comfort
zone, but I had so much fun doing it.

much needed curtains in the guest (Peeba's) room

This was the packaging for Genevieve's/Pearls present. The idea for the Pearl is from here and I am seriously in love with it, I feel like doing this to everything. It is crazily simple and so much fun,  all you need are some pipe-cleaners and wool. I have already started using this technique for some Christmas decorations (oh yes, I have started, especially now we don't have our annual craft weekend, I have to be far more organised).

Tuesday 18 October 2011

even more beautiful friends

Firstly I would like you to know that this will be the last "beautiful friends" post for a while, take that as a hint, take it as you will. Secondly I am fully aware that I am currently blogging events that happened nearly two weeks ago, yes this is an exercise in recall, hopefully my brain will not fail me.

So tag teaming with Jen, Lily and Saul, Vince, Tracey, Remy and Jenna made their journey up from Sydney. We were lucky enough to have this beautiful family as neighbours and even luckier to have them as dear friends.

As soon as they arrived Ilo leapt into Vince's arms and there he stayed for quite some time, gloriously content and happy to be reunited with his special friend.

We did quite a bit of exploring, eating, talking and laughing. As always it so wonderful having people that we know and love, do the things that we love to do and explore the places that play a starring role in our lives.

On the Monday we headed up to Dorrigo, where Ilo entertained all of us by being a dog. He is going through that wonderful stage of taking on different personas, as well as assigning various ones to other people, often I am Harriet  and he is Mumma, sometimes he is Charlie and Poe is Tallulah, I am sometimes Peeba and he is sometimes Sophie, sometimes he has a baby in his tummy and sometimes he is little Poe Poe's Mumma (!)  He manages to keep these up throughout the day and is very serious yet highly entertaining whilst doing so.

 These are the beautiful Dangar Falls, we hadn't been there before and hadn't really expected much. But they were totally amazing, spectacular in fact. And although we didn't go anywhere near them the ponds at the top of the Falls look like they are made for whiling away days, obviously whilst paying particular attention to the certain death that would occur if you happen to stray a bit too close to the Falls.
At Dangar Falls, just about everywhere you looked was a picture perfect scene, except for maybe the enclosed brick bbq area (sorry no photos). Next time, I think we will go on the walk that leads you down to the base of the Falls.

There were even log rides for kids of all ages.

Scott then took us on a drive-by tour of the Dorrigo Train Museum, which has one of the most comprehensive railway collections in the world. Unfortunately it is not actually open but it is pretty amazing seeing so many engines and carriages all in one place.

and it wasn't long before a fairy home was made

We were then granted a day where a swim was a possibility for some, depending on cold water tolerance, so we decided to head out in search of suitable salt water swimming venue. But first we headed to downtown Coffs, which is always an experience when you venture away from the safety of the op shops, and headed to a park which has a selection of really awesome play equipment, an alphorn (thanks Cass) that actually works due to the length of it, and an almighty slide, amongst other things. Unfortunately unlike other times when we have visited,  the park was inundated with children (i was going to say infested but.....). So after a whirlwind tour of various said play items we headed to the beach at Urunga. Now after the park people fiasco I was a bit fearful that this little slice of awesomeness would also be inundated but no, we pretty much had it to ourselves.

Remy and Jenna, with much encouragement and barracking from the sidelines managed to swim from the beach to the sandbar, whilst Poe and Ilo got down to the very serious business of creating some dams and rivers.

That night we were treated to an Indian feast, Tracey and Vince spent most of the afternoon slaving away over a hot stove to present us with the above awesomeness, complete with homemade chapati (Tracey, I am saying nothing). There was also a beautiful Saag Paneer, Dahl, Chickpea curry, burnt onion rice and a delicious tomato, onion and coriander salad. Oh my goodness, thank you dear ones, it was so wonderful. Now at this very special dinner we also were treated with the presence of an extra two and a half guests; Robin and Stewart dropped by on their way back to Sydney after a few days in Byron. Unfortunately I have no pictures of these two wonderful people, as someone always ended up blurry, I think there was far too much laughing going on. But thank you for dropping by, it was such a lovely evening.

Vince, Ilo and Poe spent the morning creating some little people out of wooden pegs and felt. Vince managed to impress everyone with his needle and thread handiwork, he even admitted to being a little impressed himself. It was lovely seeing Vince spend this time with Poe and Ilo, I guess when we see each other so much in the general day to day busyness of life, these moments don't happen that often. We are very lucky that when people come and visit we get so much quality time. We have the luxury of time, so things and catch ups aren't rushed, we are bathed in them.

I was lucky enough to assist Jenna with a school project she was working on. She had to make a tea-towel as part of a promotional package for her designated state; South Australia. It was really lovely seeing her ideas form and assisting her with some of my skills. Hopefully Jenna will send a picture through of her completed tea-towel so we can all check it out.
beautifully this backpack did not leave Ilo's back all day
We ventured out to the Promised Land and Never Never creek and although the day was sunny the water was particularly icy and the pebbles in the creek proved to be somewhat uncomfortable for those not quite used to such rocky (pebbly?) terrain. Rest assured when this family returns in December they will all be wearing river shoes.

i spy a little river elf

How sweet is this, it is from a napkin that Tracey gave to me, amongst other things in a beautiful basket of birthday goodies, I don't think I have ever had a birthday that lasted this long.

Scott, particularly enjoyed some quality moments with Remy Kenneth Blatch-Williams, you know times when Remy would address him as someone other than Scott and Scott would show how much he loved this by giving Remy a bit of a head rub and face massage (and by this I do mean, head rub and face massage not some awful stereotype of what people think men do, it was lovely, gentle, very funny and full of love, Remy loved it but also considered it payback for his name calling). It was so beautiful seeing some Alloparenting at work and so wonderful that both Remy and Jenna feel so comfortable with us.
Thank you beautiful ones for making the effort and coming to spend such special days with us, we can't wait til you all visit again.