Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 16, 2018

Fly away

I head off for Italy very soon. Brisbane is putting on a lovely send off for me. The river and the city light up each night as part of Brisbane Festival.

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane is a beautiful city. I have enjoyed being home for our glorious winter. The weather has been perfect, warm sunny days and cool nights, just the way I like it.  We need rain badly and with some luck spring rain should start soon as I look forward to autumn in Italy.

I am keen to get back to my garden at Casa Debbio to see how it has survived the summer. There are lots of lavender plants to prune and some beautiful season change to enjoy…there will be photos.

There is still time to catch the events at Brisbane Festival. http://www.brisbanefestival.com.au

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 1, 2018

#Who made your clothes?

If you live in Brisbane that could be me. My spring Pop Up shop starts on Monday September 10th and will be open every day until Saturday 15th September.

I have been gathering fabric for years. I have some pieces dating back to the 1960s when I first began sewing. I eventually decide what to make with them.

I have found a huge warehouse near Florence where I can buy ends of lines, perfectly good fabric that might otherwise end up in landfill.

The fabrics I collect are all made into garments on my trusty Bernina which is more than 50 years old. It was given to me by my grandfather when I was about 12.  I learned to sew on it and it has made most of my clothes and my son’s clothes when he was young (until he decided it was uncool to wear clothes made by his mother).Click here to read more about this treasure.

My Bernina

It was used to sew all the garments in the shop I had in the city until I gave it up about 15 years to spend more time in Italy. Click here to see more on my fashion past. Now I do the occasional Pop Up shop because I like making things.

I make casual summer clothes in cotton and linen, perfect for our Brisbane weather. Here is a sample of what I have made this time.

Pop Up September 2018

Pop Up September 2018

Pop Up September 2018

Pop Up September 2018

Pop Up September 2018

Pop Up September 2018

Pop Up September 2018

Each piece is individually cut, made with care and designed to last.

Prices range from $70 – $120 and there will be a rack of garments from previous Pop Ups at $40.

Just as we now want to know where our food comes from, I think we need to ask where and how our clothing is made. It is a complex issue and we can’t expect to shut down sweatshops overnight, but some thought needs to go into the throw away attitude we have developed over the past few decades. Buy less, buy better and keep it longer.

My Pop Up will be at Sarva, the shop of my lovely friend who lets me use his space occasionally. He makes great clothes to measure and is a whizz at alterations.

Sarva

239 Boundary St, corner Corbett St

West End.

Sarva

Monday 10th September – Saturday 15th September

10.00am – 4.00pm

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 27, 2018

The edge of the lake

While staying in Sirmione on Lake Garda we took a boat to a couple of the other towns that sit on the edge of the lake.

There are many to choose from and we could not see all of them so we chose 2, Garda and Bardolino.

Garda is one of the most well known and offers an impressive harbour and a pretty traffic free promenade along the waterfront.

Garda

Garda

Garda

 

Garda

Garda

Garda

 

Garda

There are some pretty balconies.

Garda

…and some lovely trees and gardens, looking great in late spring.

Garda

Garda

Garda

There are some appealing shopping streets.

The local birds have trained tourists to feed them.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to Garda is that I had seen online that there was a bus to the incredible Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona. We found an information centre and when I asked about the bus I was told “No”…just “No”. There was no explanation, no possible ideas on how to get there, nothing, so we didn’t go there.

So we got back in the boat and went to Bardolino.

Lake Garda

 

Garda

 

Garda

Garda

Bardolino

Come for a walk through the pretty streets. I thought Bardolino was more interesting than Garda, a little more authentic.

Bardolino

Bardolino

Bardolino

 

Bardolino

Bardolino

Bardolino

Bardolino

San Nicolo is an impressive church.

The church of San Severo dates from the 9th century. It wasn’t open, so I can’t take you inside.

Bardolino

Bardolino

Some water birds were taking care of their babies as we headed back to the boat.

Bardolino

Bardolino

There is much to see at Lake Garda. I think I prefer Lake Como, but the area needs more explanation. Next time we will drive to the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 23, 2018

Sirmione on Lake Garda

Sirmione is a beautiful town built on the edge of Lake Garda in northern Italy. We visited in late spring to find a busy town full of holiday makers.

Sirmione is famous for the magnificent Scaligero Castle, a 13th century medieval port fortification. It was begun by Mastino della Scala in 1277. The most striking features are the Ghibelline swallowtail merlons.

 

Sirmione

Sirmione

The castle stands in a strategic position at the entrance to the peninsular. It is surrounded by a moat and can only be entered by 2 drawbridges…not a bad way to make an entrance.

Sirmione

Sirmione

Sirmione

The tiny church, Sant’Anna della Rocca stands near the castle. It dates from the 12th century and was built for the garrison and the few local villagers.

Sirmione

Sirmione

The pretty streets, laneways and piazzas are lined with stylish shops and restaurants.

Sirmione

There are some lovely parks and gardens.

Sirmione

We spotted the place we want to stay in next time.

Sirmione

The warm spring weather meant the beaches were popular.

Sirmione

We took a trip around the lake on one of the boats that leave Sirmione regularly. There are dozens of towns and villages lining the lake. I will show you a couple in the next post.

Sirmione looks wonderful from the lake.

Sirmione

Sirmione

Sirmione is known as “the pearl of the islands and peninsular”. It has been popular with poets and writers for some time. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and its crystal waters and gorgeous scenery attract visitors from all over the world.

It is also famous for the healing properties of its thermal waters…something for our next visit. We also would like to visit the Grotte di Catullo, an archeological site that includes a Roman Villa.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 19, 2018

Guggenheim Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bilbao was inaugurated on 18th October 1997 by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

The Basque  government had suggested to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation that it would fund a Guggenheim Museum to be built in Bilbao’s once flourishing port area.

It cost US$100 million to construct, $50 million in acquisitions, $20 million fee to the Guggenheim and a subsidy to the $12 million annual budget. The Foundation manages the museum.

It became instantly popular. In the first 3 years almost 4 million tourists visited the museum, helping to generate $500 million in economic activity.

It was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and has been described as “the greatest building of our time”, “a fantastic dream ship of undulating form in a cloak of titanium”, “mercurial brilliance”…and much more.

We were in Bilbao on a lovely spring day. The museum certainly makes a statement beside the river.

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

The steel bubbles create great reflections.

There is a giant spider in front of the museum.

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

This is actually the back of the museum. We walked up the steps towards the entrance.

Guggenheim Bilbao

The Jeff Koons puppy looms large.

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Here is the entrance to the museum.

Guggenheim Bilbao

I would love to take you inside, but it was closed!

We were happy to see the stunning exterior and may go back one day to see the art.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 16, 2018

A Bilbao visit

While staying in San Sebastián in northern Spain earlier this year we did a side trip to Bilbao. We caught a local bus and drive through some pretty Basque countryside for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country. It was founded in the early 14th century by Diego Lopez V de Haro and became the commercial hub of the area because of its port activity.

It became heavily industrialised in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Now it is a busy service city and is famous for the Guggenheim Museum which attracts visitors from all over the world.

The bus dropped us at the edge of the newer part of the city. It is a mix of architectural styles…gothic, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic and contemporary.

Bilbao

Bilbao

The river is lined with attractive buildings and looked impressive on a sunny spring day.

Bilbao

Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum is spectacular…more on that in the next post. The photo is a bit ordinary, the light was in precisely the wrong place.

Bilbao

There is a busy pedestrian mall in the centre of the city lined with shops and cafes.

Bilbao

 

Bilbao

Much more interesting is the old part of Bilbao. It is mostly a pedestrian area and the narrow streets are full of wonderful old buildings with interesting shops and cafes.

Bilbao

Bilbao

Best of all are the pintxos bars. As in San Sebastián we wandered and selected our delicious pintxos from several different establishments. I could get used to this way of eating.

Bilbao

Bilbao

On the way back to the bus station we passed an amazing building which seems to be an exhibition area, library and shopping centre. It looks like an old building which has been completely renovated inside.

Bilbao

I like the entrances to the subway system.

Bilbao

We enjoyed our visit to Bilbao, mostly because of the old city. The newer part of town is OK, but we preferred San Sebastián and were very happy that we chose that as our base in the area.

More on the Guggenheim in the next post.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 12, 2018

Lunch with a kookaburra

It was a gorgeous winter day yesterday so we headed for the beautiful hinterland behind the Gold Coast. We went to Springbrook, arriving at lunch time.

We settled in to our outdoor table and we soon had a visitor in the form of a large kookaburra. He was quite comfortable with humans and sat close.

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

Kookaburra

I was busy taking photos of him (or her) when he quickly swooped in and took of with a piece of my lunch. It seems while I was watching him he had an eye on my pie.

After lunch we went on to Purlingbrook falls, a place I have visited several times over the years. We are having a drought in parts of Australia and I had not realised how dry the country is close to home. Our gorgeous sunny days have a downside.

The rainforest is usually lush and green, but right now it is looking dry. The water holes are low and there was little water falling over the edge.

Springbrook

Springbrook

Springbrook

It is still beautiful, but not as I have seen it in the past.

Below are some photos taken more than 60 years ago in the same place. My brother and I were playing near the water when my brother’s boat disappeared over the edge.

Springbrook

Springbrook

Springbrook

Springbrook

I hope we get some rain soon. It is sad to see the bush so dry and our farmers are desperate for some good rainfall.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 7, 2018

Eat nougat in Cremona

Cremona is an interesting town in Lombardia, in the north of Italy. In the Middle Ages it became a renowned music centre. In particular it was a centre for violin making. The Amati and Rugeri families were involved and later Guarneri and Stradavari made high quality instruments.

These days violin making continues, along with food industries such as salumi, cheese, mostada (candied fruit in spicy mustard flavoured syrup) and nougat. There is also a violin museum highlighting the city’s music history.

We arrived in Cremona just before lunch and we were in time to visit the magnificent Cremona Cathedral. The interior is stunning and quite unlike any I have seen in Italy. It is quite dark and foreboding.

Cremona

 

Cremona

We had entered the cathedral from the side and after our brief visit we walked around to the Piazza del Comune.

Cremona

Cremona

The piazza is lined with stunning buildings, the Renaissance arcade, the front of the cathedral and the octagonal baptistery.

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

The baptistery is fascinating.

Cremona

Cremona

 

The cathedral is huge! Construction began in 1107 but damaged by an earthquake in 1117. Building resumed in 1129 and probably finished in 1160 – 1170. It was originally built in Romanesque style, with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements added later.

The main facade is said to date from the late 13th century and early 14th century. The facade and adjoining baptistery are some of the most important monuments of Romanesque art in Europe.

The Torrazzo bell tower with its astronomical clock is the symbol of the city and is the tallest pre modern tower in Italy.

It is impossible to stand back far enough to capture the whole building, so here are some of the details.

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

 

Wherever you walk in the centre of town bits of the cathedral appear.

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona is well presented and there are a couple of pretty shopping streets off the Piazza.

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

We found a shop with an excellent selection of nougat and mostarda.

Cremona

Cremona

We bought several varieties of nougat and I can report that they were all delicious.

Violins feature in shops, including these chocolate versions.

On the way out of the centre we walked past the back of the cathedral. It is one of the most interesting churches I have seen in Italy. It is worth a trip to Cremona just to see it.

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

Cremona

We spoke to a few locals who told us that Cremona doesn’t attract a lot of tourists, and those who do visit stop for only a few hours. They see the cathedral and see the violin museum and move on. This is a pity as the city has a lot to offer.

Our visit was brief but I would like to return to take some more time to wander. Cremona has a pleasant atmosphere and we spotted several restaurants that looked inviting. We arrived at lunch time, so a lot of places of interest were closed. An overnight stay is required.

Here is a Google photo of the cathedral so you can see how amazing it is. I find it incredible that these buildings survive!

Cremona

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 2, 2018

Assouline, a beautiful Paris bookshop

Read More…

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 29, 2018

Nostimo…delicious Greek food

We loved our trip to Greece last year and became very fond of Greek food.

In Australia we live in West End, Brisbane, an area with a rich Greek history. The suburb is dotted with white buildings sporting arches, bougainvillea and names like Rhodes and Ithaca.

We have a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church and beside it, The Greek Club. The restaurant in the Greek Club has been recently renovated and we decided a Sunday lunch was necessary.

The restaurant is called Nostimo.

Greek Club Brisbane

Greek Club Briabane

Greek Club Brisbane

It has been tastefully renovated. The ceilings are decorated with worry beads made by the staff.

Greek Club Brisbane

 

Most importantly, the food is delicious. We shared saganaki cheese with caramelised figs, zucchini fritters, calamari, lamb and Greek salad.

Greek Club Brisbane

Greek Club Brisbane

The desserts were great too.

How lucky we are to have this little bit of Greece so close to home.

The Greek Club is holding a fundraising event to aid the people affected by the terrible fires in Greece. We have all watched in horror the devastating results of these terrifying fires and this is a chance to help.

A Greek banquet hosted by chef David Tsirekas will be held on Friday 10th August. The cost will be $120 and all profits will go to help the recovery from the fires.

 

The Greek Club

29 Edmondstone St,

South Brisbane.

www.nostimorestaurant.com.au

phone…(07) 3844 1166

Greek Club Brisbane

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