Monday, 2 July 2007

And the winner is .....

Kathy from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - congratulations! Grandpa Flea did the honours, closing his eyes (I don't know why!) and picking a tightly folded piece of paper from the knitting basket. Thank you to everyone for entering into the spirit of fun and sharing your location with us all. Kathy, if you would email me your snail mail address (stellathestar"AT"bigpond"DOT"com) , a little surprise will wing your way. I'll put photos up here after I know you have received it.

The magic shawl is now stretching itself out to whisk us even further out to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. No prizes for guessing why they are called that! Again, when I worked in outer Sydney, there was one point in my drive when I'd come to the top of a hill and see the Blue Mountains in the distance - it never failed to make me feel better about the drive to work. It used to be a place where city people went for holidays - now it's a place where people can live and enjoy the benefits of small community life but still commute to the city to work or for pleasure.

This is where Kate hails from. If you read Kate's blog you'll see some wonderful photos of the recent falls of snow there.

When I was a child - more than 50 years ago!!, we went for a holiday to Katoomba, one of the furthermost towns in the Blue Mountains. We lived on the Central Coast then, about (now) a couple of hours drive from the Sydney CBD. We didn't have a family car, and made the trip by steam train to Sydney, and I assume, by another steam train to Katoomba. We had a rented house, which was bitterly cold and I SO wanted it to snow. All our things were packed in a large metal trunk which accompanied us in the goods van. My mother was almost paralysed by the cold and I can't recall us doing much walking as a family, but every morning I would get up early and wander all around, blowing clouds with my breath. I remember starting to go down the Giant's Stairway near the Three Sisters, but getting a bit scared and turning back. I am horrified, now, to think that I was running around those cliffs and things without my parents' knowledge. We stayed there for a week - and it didn't snow. I was 21 before I saw the soft white stuff.

Now we are off to visit Michelle, flying high above the Blue Mountains and the Great Dividing Range, across the central west of NSW which has just had some relief from a seven year drought, across Mungo Lake National Park part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area. We then cross into South Australia, down towards Adelaide and west across the Nullabor Plain and into Western Australia. WA is one of the most beautiful states - and it has great yarn shops! What more could you want? Michelle lives in Perth, the capital city of the State. Perth is a beautiful city, well set out, wide, spacious streets and with little free buses that tootle around the city area. Last time I visited there, we stayed in an apartment in east Perth and the lttle bus stopped opposite our door. Perth is home to King's Park Botanic Gardens - a must see for lovers of Australian native plants. WA is known as the "wildflower State" for good reason. I will never forget smelling the intense, sweet perfume of brown boronias when we were on the south coast. We looked everywhere for them, and eventually discovered the source of the perfume hundred of metres away in the bush around a little lake. If you have ever smelt brown boronias, you'll understand why the memory is so strong. Perth is a great place to go for a holiday - there are so many unique places you can visit as day trips, and for a longer stay, it is a great place to use as a base for longer trips. I have never been to the north of WA, but it's ON THE LIST!

One more stop to visit Eero - tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Competition - Around the world on the magic shawl ...

I'm not too sure what time it is elsewhere - it is 1 July here, so midnight tonight will be the cut - off for the knitting trip around the world competition.

I am a bit disappointed that more people didn't leave their "where do you come from" details. A friend down south (Hi!) told me that she doesn't leave comments because of privacy concerns. So I suppose that a lot of people are worried about revealing too much information on the www. I hate to think what sort of a profile the CIA, ASIO, MI5 and any other secret monitoring agency has on me by now! Probably I should be more worried about the internet advertisers who now know all sorts of things because of the number of surveys I've filled in and competitions I've entered. Some months ago, now, I received a Yazzii needle roll and knitting bag in the mail -no information on who had sent it. The padded postbag and computer mailing label and franking made me think that it must have been a prize from some competition I had entered - but who knows? (Stop Press! I know now - when I was looking for the Yazzii site so I could post the link, I read a "testimonial" on the site that referred to the same prize that someone had won in a "Creative Knitting" magazine competition! I haven't put the link to the Australian "Creative Knitting" here, as it has become a clone of the English magazine "Simply Knitting")

Back to the topic. Today the magic shawl is landing at inner Sydney, Outer Sydney, the Blue Mountains, - INTERRUPTION:
would you believe it - having just written about my disappointment in this draft, an email arrived fromEero who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska! I wondered how she had wandered into my blog, but saw a comment by Carson on her last post, so I guess that's how! - RESUMPTION :
Perth and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Miss Fee hails from the Sydney inner city area. I have had the privilege of visiting her at home. The inner city is densely populated and like the suburbs, each area seems to have a unique personality. Miss Fee is close enough to walk to the CBD if she wishes (I'd get the bus!). The streets of inner Sydney are a mix of the old and the new with old terrace houses, shops, blocks of apartments, and an increasing number of high rise residential units. Many of the inner city areas were once regarded as "slums". My parents and I (only a little person then) lived briefly at a place called Surrey Hills after WWII. Mum regarded it as one of the low points of her life - a place infested with cockroaches and rats and all sorts of strange people. An aunt lived at nearby Paddington and when I was about 9 and stayed there for a few days, I was not allowed to play with the children in the street - they were not "nice". These days, Surrey Hills and Paddington in particular are expensive suburbs - too dear for the likes of us! I haven't followed the real estate market in Miss Fee's part of town, but anywhere in the inner city is now a highly prized place to live. I don't want to reveal too much about Miss Fee's without her permission, but her place reminded me, in a way, of old New Orleans, where many homes present a blank, unprepossessing front to the street, but magic lurks within.

Now we're whooshing over the suburbs to the outer north western area where Janette lives. I don't think Janette actually put her name down for this, but as she left a comment or two, I'm assuming she knows that I know where she lives. (You should see her knitting room!) I used to drive through Janette's general area when I worked in outer Sydney. I used to pass many open, grazing areas, a huge paddock full of cut firewood for sale, small roadside stalls with veggies for sale, a feedlot for cattle which you could smell before you could see it, and a few houses usually well set back from the road. There was the odd pub and service station, but it was basically a semi-rural area. The road was a double lane in most places (i.e. one lane in each direction) and if there was an accident, the delays were enormous. These days, Sydney's suburban sprawl has reached Janette's area and there are new suburbs by the dozen. The open spaces (and the feedlot!) have been replaced by new streets, a mixture of large homes, townhouses and duplexes, children's playgrounds, and small shopping centres. The road system has been widened and traffic lights placed at many of the intersections which used to be "take-your-life-in-your-hands-if-you-want-to-turn-right" territory - much to my relief. The one great disadvantage of living there is that there is NO yarn shop. Not that that stops our Janette from maintaining a substantial stash!

The Blue Mountains, Perth and Fairbanks will have to wait until tomorrow.