iPhoto essay: The Californian Redwoods, Warburton

Waldeinsamkeit: the feeling of being alone in the woods…

I found out only a few days before heading to Warburton about the incredible Californian Redwood Forest on Cement Creek Rd, only 10 minutes from the town centre. As the National Trust website will tell you, the forest is home to almost 1500 of these beautiful trees, which were planted back in the 1930s, some of which have grown over 50m high.

This is one of, if not the most stunning natural setting I’ve ever been lucky enough to find myself in. It is truly magical in every spence of the word; ethereal natural light streams through the branches of the trees, and the phrase “silence is deafening” takes on the most perfect new meaning.

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Welcome to my book nook :)

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Welcome to my book nook; my little piece of heaven; my “library” and reading room. My escape haven. It’s not a room, per se; it’s a nook at the top of the staircase. But it’s my nook. Filled with all my books (well, everything except the cookbooks – they have two bookshelves in the kitchen to live in, they were never going to have space up in the nook!), my big comfy grandpa couch, my old handmade wooden doll house, a window looking out onto the leafy street below and little trinkets that are, for whatever reason, special to me. This is my absolute, ultimate happy place.

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When we bought this place, this little nook was actually the previous owners’ baby’s room. It had a crib, a little book case, a small shelving unit. As soon as I saw it, I knew what I’d do with it. I stocked up on storage cubes at Ikea and spent an afternoon sitting on the living room floor with the power drill putting them all together. A few days later, dad came over to help get them safely and securely onto the wall (great option – while I’m an absolute pro at “building” Ikea furniture and can operate a power drill unsupervised, dad was smart enough to recognise that I was definitely NOT able to secure book cubes to walls).

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There totally wasn’t enough room for all my books, and the collection grows by the week (seriously, I buy at least one book each week), so I moved in my old doll house to act as more shelving, a small side table to the right of my grandpa couch and the vintage suitcase that was present at our wedding (I hated the idea of a guest book, so I made individual post cards for our friends and family to leave a message one, all piled up in the suitcase) to hold onto more books. When that space runs out, I’m going to have to get even more creative!

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Anyway, it’s my happy place and my safe space. Books have always been my safety, ever since I can remember actual memories of childhood. Whether I was reading a book or drawing and writing in a notebook, I never went anywhere without one, the other, or both (the bottom floor of the doll house on the right side has my notebooks – they’re full of photographs, writing, drawings and other ephemera by my own hand throughout the years..). I guess old habits die hard, because I still never leave the house without a book to read, a small pencil case and a notebook in my handbag. Books were my escape from an unconventionally conventional upbringing. Any time I felt scared, threatened, alone, unbalanced, unable to cope (which was more often than I’d probably like to admit), I’d put my head in a book and stay there as long as I needed to. Books are still my escape; I can’t ever imagine a time in my life when I won’t find comfort or solace in the pages of a bound tome.

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I think everyone needs a place like this in their life. Maybe it’s not a book nook; maybe it’s a special corner in the garden. Maybe it’s an altar of some description. Maybe it’s just a candle lit for a few minutes before bed, and a cup of tea in a favourite mug on the sweet spot on the couch. What or where ever it is, find your happy place, find something that gives you your inner peace, and spend as much time there as you need. Because goodness knows, in this crazy world,  we all need a happy place from time to time!

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Read this: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

The Snow Leopard
by Peter Matthiessen

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Long heralded as the travel book, it had been on my list to read for months; the push I needed to prioritise it and push it to the top of that list was hearing the high praise it received from Don George and Tony Wheeler at their On The Road session at the recent Melbourne Writers Festival.

The book recounts the two month journey undertaken by Peter Matthiessen and his friend and naturalist George Schaller through the Himalayas to the Crystal Mountain in the Dolpo region of Nepal. The plan was to observe the habits of the bharal (blue sheep) of the Himalayan region, and to hopefully catch sight of the elusive snow leopard. What transpired was what can only be described as a deep spiritual journey.

After losing his wife to cancer, 46 year old Peter left his youngest son in the care of good friends and spent day after day trekking through the snow and mountains, in search of not only the animals, but it seems inner peace, as well.

A quick Google search will tell you more than enough about this book, so I’m not going to regurgitate it all here. What I will tell you is that I’m glad I finally did read it when I did; it was the right time in my life for a book like that. It’s not a story about looking for rare animals, not really. It was a reading meditation on life, death, peace, hurt, loss, suffering, adventure and real living.

There were so many beautifully written passages, it’s hard to pick favourites, but this one below about freedom and gratitude would certainly be up there for me.

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There’s not a heap to say about this timeless tome that hasn’t already been said by someone else far more eloquent and educated than I. What I will say is that if you open this book with the right mindset, open and calm and willing to learn, you’ll come out the otherside with a truly different perspective on life, which is a beautiful thing. Amazing book and concepts, get your copy here, or at your nearest bookstore!

My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An, Vietnam

My Son Sanctuary
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/949

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After seeing some stunning photos of it, Sib & I knew we needed to see the ruins at My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My Son, dated from the 4th to 13th centuries AD, is the former capital of the Champa Kingdom. Set in stunning green, mountain surrounds in the Quang Nam Province near Hoi An, it houses the remains of the Cham temple towers.

The Cham people came from Indian origins, and were renowned for their unique building techniques; the towers have been constructed, as our guide explained, without any use of binding agent or mortar, simply brick against brick.

Enough of the history lesson now though – here’s the beautiful space we had the privilege of wandering around for the morning.

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Through my eyes: Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney, Australia

Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney, Australia
http://www.darlingharbour.com/things-to-do/chinese-garden-of-friendship.aspx

Imagine the hustle and bustle of one of the big cities of the world. Cars and sirens, yelling and laughing, food being eaten and shopping being done. Tall buildings and lots of traffic and tourists taking pictures and locals rushing to work. Then picture, if you will, a little pocket of quiet and serenity smack bang in the middle of it. Of unexpected quiet, bar the sounds of trickling water and a few birds. Lush, green gardens with beautiful flowers under the shade of detailed, oriental pagodas.

Welcome to the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney, Australia. Built in 1988 to celebrate both Australia’s bicentenary and the special relationship between the cities of Sydney and Guangzhou, this is a special little paradise built on the principles of yin and yang. At only AUD$6.00 entry for adults, it’s a very small price to pay for such a gorgeous mid-city escape, and is well worth a visit!

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Through my eyes: monks of Bangkok

Bangkok is without a doubt one of my favourite cities in the world, and I’ll keep visiting and photographing it for as long as I can travel. I love the craziness of the city, I love how it’s always busy. I love how there is street food vendors on every corner, and the tourists are always too scared to eat at them. I love that you can see an entire family on a motorcycle. I love that the kids kind of gawk at you as you walk past, being so very foreign and all. But most of all, I love that you can find something as beautiful as this in the middle of the crazy… These are two of my most absolute favourite photos I’ve ever taken, and incredible scene of peace and serenity in one of the world’s craziest cities. I hope you guys like them too  : )

 

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014