Ain’t She Sweet

Dear Friends,

Did you celebrate World Teachers’ Day on 31st October? My personal assistant The Eternal Traveller did. She says the best part of the day was the decorated cake shared by the staff at her school. Luckily it tasted better than it looked. (Mrs ET assured me it wasn’t made by a teacher.)

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As you know, I’m already an expert on the art of cake consumption and this decorating disaster inspired me to add to my skills by learning more about cake decorating. So I enrolled in a weekend course, Cake Decorating 101, led by Master Cake Creator Lynne.

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First I learned how to prepare my cake and cover it with fondant. Then I practised the skills needed to create the trimmings for the cake.

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I decided to make a Christmas cake so green, red and gold were the colours I chose. Eventually, after hours of colouring, rolling, cutting, moulding, shaping, painting and taste-testing the fondant, I had assembled an artistic collection of bits and pieces.

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I had no idea how all these parts would come together in an attractive  way but with Lynne’s skilful guidance and endless patience my cake was finally completed.

Isn’t it beautiful!

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Who would like a piece?

Justin.

Triple Treat – Weekly Photo Challenge – Achievement

Dear Friends,
Meet my new friend – Caitlin of Caitlin’s Happy Heart.

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Not only is Caitlin a wonderful writer and speaker, she is mother to five lovely children, including three year old triplets!

Three times three – now that’s an achievement!

Justin.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Achievement

Long Way Down – Weekly Photo Challenge – Descent

Dear Friends,

I know I’m an alpine beaver and not usually bothered by heights but I met my match at the Diamond Tree near Manjimup in Western Australia.

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This enormous karri tree hosts one of a series of tree towers built by foresters in the 1930s. They were used as lookouts to spot fires in the dense karri forests and the cabins at the top of the trees provided accommodation for the spotters during their long, lonely shifts.

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For me, the problem wasn’t going up. The ladder is pegged securely into the trunk of the tree and there is a safety net to keep climbers from plunging to their deaths. The hut at the top is 52 metres above the ground and the viewing platform is 46 metres, high enough to give a spectacular view over the forest.

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Unfortunately I have no photos of the view to show you, because I didn’t make it! I was so worried about going down again I had to stop at the halfway mark. My mind was playing havoc with my legs and I kept imagining myself slipping and sliding back down to earth. It was ghastly.

The trees are no longer used for fire-spotting and have been replaced by spotter planes. Now they tempt those who are brave (or foolhardy) enough to climb to the summit to enjoy the view before making the spinechilling descent to the ground.

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My knees are still quaking at the thought.

Justin.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Descent

Dressin’ Up

Dear Friends,

When visiting somewhere special it’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion, and there could be no occasion more special than spending a day at Disneyland.

This week I went to Tokyo Disneyland! The rides were fantastic and the parades were spectacular but what I enjoyed most was the people-watching. Disney dress-ups were very popular. There were all sorts of character copies, from monsters to mice, and they all looked amazing.

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If you want to have fun and look fabulous at the same time dressing up is the way to go. Here is my list of essential wardrobe items for a day at Tokyo Disneyland.

1. Mickey Mouse Gloves – These come in pairs but can be worn separately. You might find it difficult to eat your lunch while wearing them, but who needs lunch when you’re going for the Mickey look.

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2. Hat – There are too many styles of Disney hat to choose just one favourite. I fancied myself in a Mickey hat but couldn’t find one in my size.

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3. T-shirt – The Mouse theme continues with these colourful shirts. Wear one with a co-ordinated bow, bag or bonnet and you’ll fit right in.

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4. Popcorn holder – Carry enough popcorn to last the whole day in one of these over-the-shoulder popcorn holders. My favourite was Mr Potato Head.

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5. Ears – The ultimate must-have for any Disney fan, these ears come complete with a glamorous red polka dot bow and glitzy earrings.

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Put all these dress-up pieces together and you’ll achieve the definitive Disney look, just like these three young Minnie lookalikes.

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Aren’t they delightful?

Justin.

 

Around the World – Weekly Photo Challenge – Cover Art

Dear Friends,

I’ve started writing a book.

As you know, one of my favourite pastimes while travelling is eating and I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to being passionate about food. With my handy gourmet guide, food fanatics will be able to find a delicious feast no matter where they travel.

It’s a work in progress. Here are the front and back covers.

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I hope it’s a runaway success.

Justin.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Cover Art

This Little Light of Mine

Dear Friends,

One of my favourite things to do as a world traveller is work experience –  I love stepping into other people’s shoes for a day. This week my work experience reached lofty heights.

The lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste has been operating for 110 years, guiding ships along the treacherous coast of south west Western Australia.

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Until 1996 it was manned by three lighthouse keepers, and even though the light is now automated, I got to be the keeper of the light and resident tour guide for just a day.

Come with me and I’ll show you around.

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Before we begin our tour you need to know the rules of visiting a working lighthouse.

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The lighthouse was built in 1903. There was a big celebration when it was turned on for the first time in 1904.

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Here is the control room. Before electricity, this tiny kerosene light bulb was all that was needed to power the lighthouse. Giant mirrors magnify the light so it can be seen for miles.

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It’s worth climbing the 59 steps to the balcony because the views of the rocky coast and the Indian Ocean are wonderful.

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Hold onto your hat please – it’s windy up here!

Justin.

 

All That Glitters – Weekly Photo Challenge – Dreamy

Dear Friends,

Have you ever spent time daydreaming about how you would spend your winnings when your lucky numbers come up? Or making plans for when Fortune unexpectedly comes knocking on your door?

I thought Lady Luck had smiled on me the day I found this enormous gold nugget just lying around in the grounds of the Royal Perth Mint.

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My imaginings turned to First Class Travel with all the trimmings…

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…until I found out it was gold-coloured plastic! How cruel – all my dreams faded away as quickly as they had come.

Back to Economy Class for me!

Justin.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dreamy

Brilliant Disguise

Dear Friends,

Did you know there are some clever plants out there? I’m not thinking of Triffids though – they had very unpleasant personalities. I found three plants at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore which were much nicer than triffids and far more intelligent.

Meet Sansevieria kirkii ‘Coppertone’ from Africa. The coppery tinge on its leaves make them look dead or diseased and even the hungriest herbivore would not find them appetising. Isn’t that smart!

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Then there’s Lithops aka the Stone Plant. It looks just like a pile of pebbles but appearances can be deceiving. It is actually soft and juicy and full of water. Don’t give the secret away – a four-legged diner might find out.

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The most interesting plant I met was Mosaic fungi, more commonly known as the Orange Tile Mushroom. There was a whole forest of them, all popping right out of the concrete, vibrant and shiny. Unlike Coppertone and Stone Plant, who want everyone to think they taste nasty, Orange Tile Mushroom definitely isn’t edible. He is just meant to be admired.

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So why does the mushroom get invited to all the best parties?

Because he is a fun gi!

Justin.

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Eat It! – Weekly Photo Challenge – Endurance

Dear Friends,

One of my responsibilities as a World Traveller is to take on every challenge that comes my way so I can report back to my faithful readers. I love to try everything once…and that includes food.

I take this particular responsibility very seriously. You might think that eating delicious food from all parts of the world is a dream come true and you’d be correct. There are times though when eating yet another cake becomes a feat of endurance.

But as I said, I am responsible for telling you all about my travel experiences and so, with that in mind, I take a deep breath and the tasting begins.

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My stamina usually lasts until the last bite!

Justin

PS Here are some more amazing feats of endurance.

Ship Ahoy!

Dear Friends,

In 1770, as Lieutenant James Cook and his crew sailed up the east coast of Australia, they landed at only three places. Two are well-known: first at Botany Bay, where the British flag was unfurled and then at the mouth of the Endeavour River in northern Queensland, where their ship HMB Endeavour needed repairs after hitting a coral reef.

In between these two places was Round Hill Head, also on the Queensland Coast at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. On 24th May 1770, Cook came ashore to explore this beautiful beach, where the bush meets the ocean in a protected inlet.

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While they were there, the crew killed and ate a large bustard. It was the best meal they’d eaten on the voyage and Cook named the inlet Bustard Bay in its honour.

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Since then, the only change along this stretch of scenic coastline is the development of the small town of Seventeen Seventy, named after this conspicuous date and situated a little further round the bay.

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As I sat on the beach, alone and feeling contemplative, I tried to imagine what it must have been like for those intrepid sailors from long ago. When they stepped onto the gleaming white sand on a warm, cloudless day much like the day I was there, what were their thoughts?

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If I had been there, I would have been tempted to jump ship and stay forever.

Justin.

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