Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 24, 2018

Winter days at Ponte a Serraglio

The days are cold right now in Ponte a Serraglio, not that I mind a bit if cold weather.

We have had some sunny days.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

My daffodils are growing well and soon I will plant pansies on the balcony and the bridge below.

Ponte a Serraglio

Now it is overcast with occasional rain.

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

Ponte a Serraglio

I have been busy with boring stuff, getting the phone working and organising the renewal of my Permesso di Soggiorno. I am convinced that the people who work at the Lucca post office hate their jobs and dedicate their working hours to making customers as miserable as they are. Anyway, after many hours my paperwork has been processed and I have an appointment in April at the Questura, another joyful experience.

Snow is predicted! I hope it happens.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 19, 2018

Perfect weather in Helsinki and a winter swim

The weather was perfect for my Helsinki visit. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, there was no wind and snow was all about. The temperature was around -4, a delicious change from hot, steamy Brisbane.

I arrived in the early evening, grabbed my coat and headed off for a walk. I went to the harbour in time to see the last of daylight.

Helsinki

The Helsinki cathedral, Tuomiokirkko, is one of Helsinki’s most famous sites.

Helsinki

Helsinki

The strong men at the station looked great in the evening light.

Helsinki

The next morning I set off for the Allas pool. It is set on the edge of Helsinki harbour. I was not brave enough to jump into the sea pool. I saw the attendant breaking the ice on top.

Allas pool Helsinki

Alla pool Helsinki

I was happy to try the heated pool. It is a strange feeling to be swimming in warm water surrounded by ice and snow.

Allas Pool Helsinki

Then it was time for a walk around the city. The harbour is frozen.

Helsinki

The Suomenlinna ferry still runs.

Helsinki

Esplanadi park is snow covered.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Tuomiokirkoo looks spectacular against a bright blue sky.

Tuomiokirkko Helsinki

Helsinki

Children are making good use of the piles of snow around the city.

Helsinki

The sun will soon melt the snow on the shoulders of the strong men.

Helsinki

One of my favourite areas in Helsinki is Toolonlahti.

Helsinki

Helsinki

 

Helsinki

Helsinki

My walk took me around the edge of the frozen waterway.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki

There is always a little bit of unfrozen water for the ducks.

Helsinki

Helsinki

For the first time I walked across the frozen water, along with lots of locals enjoying a perfect winter day.

I wonder if he caught anything.

Helsinki

The sun occasionally hid behind a cloud.

Helsinki

 

I walked across the ice and back towards the city.

Helsinki

I will finish my walk with a silver tree…why not.

Helsinki

Thank you Helsinki for a beautiful stay.

 

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 16, 2018

Meet Lennie and Bob

This morning, while having coffee with a friend, I met Lennie and Bob. They are magnificent residents of the cafe on the Kangaroo Point cliffs in Brisbane.

Meet Bob, the smaller of the pair.

Bob the lizard

His markings are stunning.

Here is Lennie. He is enormous.

Lennie the lizard

Lennie the lizard

Lennie the lizard

Lennie and Bob are quite at home with restaurant customers. They make their way quietly around the tables hoping a tasty morsel might fall their way.

The restaurant is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Brisbane river, so there is some suitable bush nearby where Bob and Lennie make their homes. I think life is good for the lizards.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 13, 2018

Early birds

I miss the surf when I am in Italy so we usually make time for a visit to Main Beach before heading back. Brisbane is in the middle of a horrible heat wave right now…a good excuse for a swim.

I was up bright and early to go to the beach, around sunrise. Flocks of seagulls were to greet me. They were gathered on the very edge of the water, presumably waiting for things to be washed up for their breakfast.

Main Beach

Main Beach

Main Beach

They were looking into the waves, squabbling for position and not at all bothered about having me stand beside them.

The sky was a bit overcast, making sunrise a bit subdued. There were brief moments of colour.

Main Beach

Main Beach

 

We have had big seas lately and the sand was strewn with bits and pieces. Years ago, when we were children, we used to love to scour the sand after rough seas looking for treasure, but there wasn’t much on offer yesterday.

As part of the attempt to retain the sand on the beach plants have been introduced and seem to be thriving.

Main Beach

Main Beach

Goodbye for now Main Beach.

Main Beach

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 8, 2018

Return to Italy

Next week I will leave hot, steamy Brisbane for Europe. As usual I will stop in Helsinki on my way to Italy. I am hoping for snow in Helsinki. They have had quite a bit lately, so I could be lucky.

Helsinki

Bagni di Lucca has had lots of rain and some snow this winter, which is great. 2017 was a very dry year and if this continued there could have been serious water issues. I hope the rain continues for a while.

There should be some daffodils on my balcony at Ponte a Serraglio when I arrive.

I am very keen to get up to Casa Debbio to start work on the garden. Filippo has prepared some beds on one on the lower terraces for artichokes in my absence. They will be the first things planted this season. I am hoping to have these by the end of summer.

Artichoke flower

I put in lots of bulbs in autumn so it will be interesting to see how many come up. We have porcupines and they are known to enjoy bulbs. I have never managed to get dahlias to grow and I suspect the porcupines may be responsible.

I love the winter views from Casa Debbio. This is what I can expect.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

I hope we get some snow.

Casa Debbio

 

Casa Debbio

 

Spring comes quickly once it starts and soon my garden will go from this

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

…to this.

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

Casa Debbio

If all my peonies come up I will have 60 plants this year. They are my favourite flower and I’m sure there will be room for more. I have different types and we have flowers from April until June.

Casa Debbio

This year I will plant annuals so we have colour all through summer.

We will be working hard to get Casa Debbio ready for summer rentals. We think the house is the perfect place for an authentic Italian experience. Vergemoli is a gorgeous mountain village. There are few tourists and the people are delightfully friendly. Our guests are made welcome at the many village parties throughout the summer.

Casa Debbio is a short distance from the village and the only sounds we hear are birds and the occasional wild goat. Sometimes, if we are lucky our neighbour below turns on his music and the hills echo with tango music. Sisto is now in his 80s and his music has delighted the village and surrounds for decades.

Let me know if you or your friends would like an Italian holiday in the gorgeous Tuscan mountains this year.

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 1, 2018

Summer Pop Up

Summer has been hot in Brisbane (as usual) and I have taken refuge in my air conditioned work room and have been busy sewing. I am having a short Pop Up shop next week, just before I leave for Italy.

The Pop Up will be at my friend’s shop at 239 Boundary St, West End for 4 days only, Wednesday 7th February until Saturday 10th February from 10.00am – 3.00pm.

Everything is made from cool cotton or linen…perfect for hot summer days. There are at least 2 months left of hot weather!

Sizes small – large. Prices $60 – $90. There will also be a sale rack with nothing over $30.

Pop Up 2018

 

Pop Up 2018

Sarva….239 Boundary St, West End. (Corner Corbett St, beside the Italian restaurant)

Wednesday 7th February – Saturday 10th February

10.00am – 3.00pm

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 29, 2018

Our gallery

Brisbane has a wonderful art gallery and it is just minutes from where I live. The Queensland Art Gallery and GoMA, Gallery of Modern Art are on the river at South Brisbane.

I visited recently to see 2 exhibitions which are about to finish soon. They are both great, get there if you haven’t been yet.

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is famous for her glorious spots. Her exhibition ends 11th February 2018.

GoMA

GoMA

 

GoMA

The Obliteration Room starts of completely white and visitors are invited to cover the surfaces with coloured dots until it looks like this.

GoMA

German artist Garhard Richter’s exhibition, Life of Images, will finish 4th February 2018.

GoMA

In the other gallery there are permanent and temporary exhibitions. You could spend days roaming around both galleries. There some great places to enjoy a coffee or lunch and some excellent shopping as well as interesting art.

Qld Art Gallery

Qld Art Gallery

 

Qld Art Gallery

The gallery itself is gorgeous. The Queensland Art Gallery and GoMA are part of the Queensland Cultural centre which opened in 1982. I feel very lucky living so close.

http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 24, 2018

Clean your fangs

My great friend Paul brought me a gift from Paris. It is a tube of toothpaste, not just any toothpaste, but a very special tube from a fabulous shop in Rue Bonaparte.

The tube is my favourite shade of green and it features a snake 🐍 on the front. Paul knows me well…I love green and am fascinated by snakes. Here it is.

Buly Paris

The box is gorgeous too.

Buly Paris

 

 

Buly Paris

It seems a shame to have to squeeze the tube to get the toothpaste out. I don’t want to ruin it.

I Googled the shop and now I want to go there next time I am in Paris. L’Officine Universale Buly, known simply as Buly has a history. Jean-Vincent Bully began his shop in 1803 and it thrived for over 100 years before fading away.

It was picked up years later under a different spelling and is now a beauty brand focused on naturally sourced ingredients.

I took some photos from their site, but I will definitely be going there on my next trip to Paris.

Buly Paris

Today is the day to squeeze the tube. It is mint, coriander and cucumber flavour and is enhanced with thermal water from Castera-V erduzan, reputed since antiquity for soothing sore mouths and throats, and ensuring fresh breath. I can feel it doing me good already.

Thanks Paul!

http://www.buly1803.com

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 21, 2018

A stylish stay

I have known my lovely friends, Lindsay and Bryce, since 1994 when Lindsay presented me with my first RAQ fashion award.

A couple of years ago they bought a decrepit building in New Farm, an inner city suburb of Brisbane and set about turning it into a luxury guest house. The transformation has been astounding. It had been a boarding house for years, with all the verandahs closed in. It now looks like the traditional Queensland home it once was, only better.

Heal House is stunning.

Heal House

Heal House

Heal House

Heal House

Heal House

There are 3 beautifully appointed suites, each with its own bathroom.

The Master Suite.

Heal House

Heal House

The Executive Suite.

Heal House

Heal House

The Verandah Suite.

Heal House

Heal House

The relaxing and stylish common rooms invite guests to sit and read, watch TV, chat or do nothing at all.

Heal House

Heal House

Heal House

Breakfast is served daily either in the breakfast room or on one of the verandahs.

Heal House

Heal House

Heal House has been awarded the 2017 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and was recently named in Trip Advisor’s Top 5 Bed & Breakfasts in Brisbane as well as Brisbane’s Number 1 Luxury B&B.

If I didn’t live in Brisbane anyway I think I would move in!

Congratulations Lindsay and Bryce for an excellent transformation. I know they did much of the work themselves and every item in the house has been carefully selected by them. I’m not surprised Heal House has become such a wonderful home away from home for visitors to Brisbane.

Heal House…72 Heal St, New Farm, Brisbane.

http://www.healhouse.com.au

Here are some photos of what the house used to look like. It has an interesting past. In 1890 it belonged to the mayor of Brisbane, Richard Symes Warry. It was originally called Chesaw, but name was changed to Kiama in 1924.

Heal House

I think you will agree that Lindsay and Bryce have done an incredible job.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | January 17, 2018

Curly Flat

My sister has a beautiful vineyard and winery called Curly Flat. It is in the Macedon Ranges area in Victoria, southern Australia. It is the coolest wine growing area on mainland Australia and perfect for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay they produce.

We visited Curly Flat on the weekend. The weather was mixed…we had some sun, some rain and lots of wind. I took advantage of sunny moments to look around the vineyard. It is a beautiful part of the world.

The oldest vines were planted in 1992 with other plantings following from 1993 to 2000. They now have 14 hectares (33acres) under vine.

The well tended vines are looking particularly healthy. Vintage is about 2 months away.

Curly Flat

Curly Flat

Curly Flat

Quite a large mob of kangaroos visit the vineyard most days. They don’t mind people…as long as we don’t get too close.

Curly Flat

The enormous dam looks good from any angle.

 

Curly Flat

Wine tastings and events are held at Vintage Hall, the original 1880s cottage that was on the property when it was bought.

Curly Flat

I remember when these trees were tiny saplings.

Chewbacca, otherwise known as Chewy, is the resident vineyard cat. He is getting on now, but still manages to charm visitors when the mood takes him.

Curly Flat

 

I think my sister has created something wonderful at Curly Flat. She and her team should be very proud of their achievements. Curly Flat produces some of Australia’s best  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wine is available in the best restaurants all over Australia, and of course they sell direct. Have you tried it yet?

Curly Flat

http://www.curlyflat.com

 

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