The answers to everything.

People want to know so much. This is evident by the search terms used to find my site. Here I shall try to answer some of your questions, because I doubt you can find it in the blog anywhere and I would hate to disappoint. Since you are here, I mean.

1. Daylesford in winter, is it so bad?

Where did you get that from! It is not bad at all. All you need is good heating and a decent winter wardrobe. Some extra vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sun and you are set. The low winter light is extremely flattering to the complexion so we are all much more beautiful to look at in winter. Also there is no uncovered superfluous skin, so ditto there. Enjoy the absence of snakes and go hiking. There are also no insects as they have all gone to bed, along with the reptiles. Love winter, and it will love you right back. Hot chocolate. Wood fires.

2. Can I repair cracks with gesso?

Yes, someone actually found my site through this question. Isn’t Google a wondrous thing? What I want to know is why would you want to? How wide and deep are the cracks? If they are hairline only, of course you can. Just paint the gesso , dry and sand. Repeat until happy. Bigger cracks need a hardware product.

2. Can I mould with gesso?

So much to know about gesso! I should write about it more often. Yes, you can, as long as you are not asking too much of it. If it is for low relief on a picture, for instance, sure you can. Has been done for hundreds of years. If you are moulding a three dimensional thing, I would use plaster casting or similar.

3. What are things for couples to do at night at Daylesford?

I am not sure I understand this question. Do couples do different things to non-couples? There is a lively live-music scene, plenty of restaurants, or you might take a picnic and a torch into the forest and look at the nightlife in there. That is a tremendous adventure. Sit quietly, listen and wait. Squeeze each other hands in anticipation of the thrill of a koala’s roar. Is that for couples or not? I think it is. You could always opt out of the handsqueezing if you are not that close. Midweek there is not too much apart from restaurants and pubs, if you are into that, but weekends is more active. The Grande has a little venue in the basement which does regular shows on Friday nights, strongly recommend. Cabaret type things. The Daylesford Hotel is excellent in summer, with a nicely lit outside area which often houses DJ sets, or other events. Nice. Ditto Perfect Drop. Horvat’s does live music on weekends, and is a very cool place to eat and drink midweek too. Or go to Radio Springs hotel, a short drive away but so worth it. There’s plenty more, look at a What’s On guide if you still need more.

4. Disused church Daylesford.

This appears not to be a question but a statement, which is totally fine. It is keyword searches, not a conversation, after all. There is one particularly fine one which was for sale for a while, on Camp Street. Could this be the one and why do you want to know? The For Sale sign is gone, but I don’t think it ever sold. Make enquiries at one of the agents, they will know. Go on, buy it! It could do with a new purpose. Was initially up for 950.000, but this might have been in the too-high range for the time, now I am not so sure as prices have gone up a bit in the last couple of years. By the way, I believe the word is deconsecrated. ”Disused” might just mean a church with very poor attendance?

5. what are the opening hours for Clayfire Gallery?

That is an easy one! According to their website (should have gone there instead of my blog, shouldn’t you?)

Monday 10:30am –  4.30pm

Tuesday CLOSED

Wednesday  10.30am  –   4:00pm

Thursday  10:30am  –  4:30pm

Friday  10:30am  –  4:30pm

Saturday  10:30am  –  4:00pm

Sunday  10.30am  –  4:00pm

Porcupine Ridge

Winter is a great time for bushwalking, snakes are all asleep. My friend David who is an intrepid walker and walking guide found some mines he had never come across before. The mine is called Tubal Cain Mine and it’s near Porcupine Ridge. A fantastic reason never to leave the path! To go for a guided forest stroll, contact David on 0428 112 378  or email asic45(at)gmail.com.

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Fishing

If you are interested in fishing, there are several spots in the area which are stocked by Fisheries Victoria. Hepburn Lagoon (best fishing in cold and wet weather) gets 5000 brown trout and 5000 rainbow trout each year, Wombat Dam in Daylesford gets 1000 of each every year. Newlyn Reservoir gets 4000 brown trout a year, and Jubilee Lake gets 400 advanced rainbow trout released before the second and third school holiday each year. Other smaller waters get some too, so you are in with a good chance.

There’s also redfin, tench, golden perch and blackfish, try the upper reaches of the Werribee river. Malmsbury, Lauriston and Coliban reservoirs are possibles too.

The Lerderderg River has trout, but is hard to reach due to the terrain. Best access is via McKenzies Flat, Blackwood and O’Brien’s Crossing.

You can buy a fishing licence online here:

http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/fisheries/recreational-fishing/fishing-licence

or in person from Lake Jubilee Holiday Park.

I provide yabbie nets and a landing net (good for a heavy struggling fish, prone to snap the line), but you will have to bring your own rods if you plan to give it a go. Well, I have a small rod you can borrow, but it’s not very good. Though I have caught a trout with it!

 

Hello koala

The koala is one of the rarest animal sightings here, not because of lack of numbers, but because of being still and high up in a tree during the day. And who wants to be on a bush track in the middle of the night? My walking companion David from Daylesford Forest Strolls sent me this picture from yesterday’s walk.  Though he can’t promise sightings, at least he knows where the best chances are.

Call David on 0428 112 378 or email asic45(at)gmail.com if you want to find out more.

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Room with(out) a view

What do you do with a wall without views? You paint some, of course. The ones in the picture above are just that. I find we see what we are expecting to see, so at a quick glance you simply assume these are real views through actual windows.

First, this was just a blank wall, no views, not even a window. I want views, however, and there are none behind the wall so I painted some on masonite.

fake view15Then I nailed my pictures to the wall. If you want to do your own, there’s info on how to paint a simple, fast and reasonably convincing landscape  further down. You could use a photo too, but I prefer paintings.

Add some strips of wood to rest the window on.

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Screw window into place. Looking better by the minute!

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Add timber to build up the right levels, then stick on some architrave to match the rest of the room.

fake view17Fill and paint.

HOW TO PAINT EASY GARDEN VIEWS

To make my views I used masonite, rough side up. Five coats of gesso first, goes on quickly and primes the thirsty masonite wonderfully well.  Do not use undercoat, not good enough!fake view10I paint in oils, which is slow to dry between coats but nice to work with. First I roughed in where the sky will be. I used White, Payne’s Grey and Ultramarine mixed in with some medium to make the paint flow.

fake view11I was aiming for a sky which portrays no special season, just a dull plain sky. Fortunately you can’t see much sky from the real windows either so you will not be able to make a too obvious comparison, hopefully. It is all leaf.fake view12Next I blocked in the green mass. I used Black and Viridian, more medium. I didn’t mix on my palette, rather on the painting itself. Swirl and splash, rough and lively! Here are the two, they are the same, just bad light. The green mass has lots of variety in shade, but again, bad pic loses the detail.

fake view6fake view5The treetrunks are next, for this first layer I used Black and Vandyke Brown. Let it dry before adding leaves, or it will be a mess.      fake view7Add leaves of whatever kind, I am using the same leaves which are seen through the real windows.

fake view8I also added some flowers, this spot is so dark nothing would bloom there in real life but anything is possible in paint! If you want something, paint it. Oil makes flower painting a breeze. Just load a brush with paint and dab it on. It will look like a flower all by itself. I tend not to mix too much on the palette, but add more than one colour to the brush and it just does its flower thing.fake view2A crop of berries, not related to the tree itself but that’s ok.

fake view3Hydrangeas! Or something white and fluffy anyway.

fake viewWhen the paint has dried, you can add more shape and shade to the leaves and the whole scene. Keep building the layers until you are happy. Veins on leaves are good but certainly not necessary. You could go super realistic, or just give a general idea.fake view4Done.

Stressed?

Being stressed is no good at all. Though a visit to Daylesford might not fix the source of it, you might come away from here feeling a whole lot more relaxed. Here are five shortcuts to reduce stress:

  1. Meditation and relaxation. Do nothing, stare into space and let time pass you by.
  2. Nature is MADE to relax you. Visit forests and nature of any kind as much as you can manage. The natural sounds of birdsong, water and leaves in the wind reduces your blood pressure, pulse and halts the stresshormones, according to a studie in Sweden recently. I could have told them that! If you want company in the forest, walking on unknown tracks, my friend David offers guided walks. Even less stress with someone knowledgeable to show the way.
  3. Spend time with animals. I can’t offer much of that at the Pip, but animal time is brilliant for general wellbeing. You can watch the birds in the garden, coming in for a drink or some nectar, but I am not sure birds count. You could go horseriding at Boomerang Ranch, that would certainly count. Would be doubly good, as they ride in the forest. Nature AND animals.
  4. Sing! Especially singing in a group is good. Oxytocin levels go up, which can only be beneficial. I have lots of music at the Pip, sing like no one is listening (and no one can hear you anyway). Get the tambourine going.
  5. Laugh! Laughing gets certain signalling hormones going in your brain which in turn create calm and reduces stress. Watch a comedy, or maybe meet up with the Daylesford Laughter Club, they meet on the second Saturday of each month. Laughter yoga has been going for a few years in Daylesford now, all welcome, free event.

Daylesford is relaxing in many other ways, simply because of being country. We have no traffic lights, only a handful of roundabouts, very little traffic, and a generally relaxed lifestyle surrounded by nature in every direction. Hope to see you de-stress here soon!

Guided forest strolls

For the last couple of years I have been walking occasionally in the forest with a friend of mine, David. He really knows the area, and it is a great thing to do. Recently he has decided to do it in a professional way, and is offering guided forest walks (or strolls, if that is more your thing). The rate is a flat $50 regardless of if it is just the one of you, or more. Walking in the forest is another world. You are extremely likely to see kangaroos and wallabies, and likely to see wombats too. And if the wombat is not at home, he can most certainly show you their lair. On occasion the odd echidna or koala will be around as well. One fell off his tree right in front of David once. A koala, not an echidna. They don’t favour trees. Well, it was a very windy day. All the pictures in my bushwalking section and wildlife section on this blog are taken from walks with David. If you want to see old gold mines, he can take you there as well.

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Below is his brochure, it’s a little hard to read so I have typed it out for clarity. I really recommend this as an activity whilst visiting Daylesford! David is the one with the snow covered hat, taken this winter.

Daylesford Forest Strolls

The Wombat Forest is one of the jewels in Victoria’s crown. With surrounding parks, it provides over 900 square kilometres of native vegetation, rivers, hills and animal habitats. Having explored the forest over the past 16 years, I have selected a series of walks which best display the forest and the history of the region.

A walk typically consists of a half hour drive from Daylesford in my vehicle, in to the bush, a guided walk of between 1,5-2 hours, and then the return drive. You will have the opportunity to learn about the events which have shaped the region, to enjoy our beautiful plant communities, and with luck, observe some of the wonderful native animals which abound in the forest. All walks contain some gentle slopes, and forest tracks can be a little muddy, but no special level of fitness is required, only a pair of good walking shoes. Walks are $50 total regardless of numbers, single walkers welcome. Cash payment only.

Call David on 0428 112 378 or email asic45(at)gmail.com.

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Gold! Gold! Gold!

Just a quick note to say I have bought a gold pan and a map of good local panning spots, also a little shovel. In case you feel like trying your luck, there is plenty of gold around still. You will need to get a prospecting license, it costs $17.90 and is valid for 10 years, children under 18 free as long as they are with an adult who has a licence. Get it online from here: http://www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resources/recreational-prospecting-and-fossicking. You don’t have to share of your findings but let me know how you went! A flake, a nugget, or just some soggy gravelly gumleaves? Panning is simple.Gold is heavier than anything else in your pan, so dig up some possibly gold bearing gravel and sand in the pan, swirl it around so the gold gets a chance to go to the bottom, and wash away everything which has risen to the top. Gold will not rise. What is left in the base of the pan will hopefully be gold. Hooray. This is why the pan is black, in order for you to see the gold easily. Well, it is a great reason to go bush anyway. Bring a picnic. I just realised I have to buy a second pan, as it is more likely to be two panners and not one. Will do so on my next trip to Ballarat. I know one of my regular guests is keen to have a go, so this is for you! Good luck.

By the way, the gold you find might only be a tiny fleck, not to miss. Also there are gemstones such as zircons and sapphires. Before your trip, look around the web and read the prospecting forums, to see what people are saying. I think most will be pretty quiet about their best spots, but you can get some help from reading.

Small space gardening

I went for a short walk this morning as I have been impressed for a while with some tiny gardens around the corner. Share! Not having any land to garden on has not stopped these gardeners. Wombat Park, a local magnificent, huge, massive, impressive in every way, garden is having an Open Day, which is great. But don’t neglect to admire the gardening on a shoestring displayed in small pockets.

Here is my morning walk. First up is the new hairdresser on the post office corner, Class A Styling. I like how they have not been content to put pots on the sills, but also halfway up. The windows have a string arrangement for the climbers to attach to. Let’s hope the imminent frosts don’t hinder their progress.

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small garden8The succulents below cascade out in a green luxurious pour, in full sun which is gruelling for any plant. This one blooms bright red, spectacular. I bet it never gets watered either, it is in an awkward spot. Brilliant. I am growing some of this myself, when it gets bigger I will be happy to give cuttings. It strikes as easily as you could wish, put a piece in the ground and la! There it is.

small garden11small garden9Opening hours included in case you need a lock of hair snipped off on your visit.

small garden13The entry is a jungle. Very hard to photograph (with my phone) but it is a vertical garden, where every wall is covered head to toe.

This dark pic shows the length of the terracotta pipes seen above which they are using as planters. Interesting.

small garden14Here is an example of extremely hardy agapanthus growing around a tree in the road. Do not dismiss this gem.

small garden10For comparison, I present to you my convincing argument. A neighboring tree, without plants. Lush.

small gardenA couple of steps down:

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Or it could look like this, ten steps further:

small garden3Lower maintenance, better for birds and bees. Rosemary to harvest. Zero water yet green year round. Annual weeding and pruning, that’s about it once it is established. Plant up your nature strips!

Sometimes a small garden can be as simple as letting it continue past your fence.

small garden 5Or baskets at a cafe, here Bocconcini on Vincent Street. Yes, a little more effort in carrying everything in and out every day but patrons will be able to season their own food with the herbs…

small garden 16On Vincent Street is Frangos and Frangos, where rampant climbers grow from the tiniest opening in the tar. I honestly don’t know how plants do that. There is no SPACE, no nothing. Yet they grow. There is a lesson there, I’m sure.

small garden 17I have shown my own flowerbike before, but it can be included again. I used to grow parsley in it but now it has ivy and succulents, a little daisy. Let the strongest win!

small garden4But the prize goes to local caterers Spade to Blade, hands down. They grow things in large wooden potatoboxes at the back, but have recently squeezed in plantings in sacks, pots, whatever, along the wall. My personal favourite is the triangular pot set in a niche, working to avoid the downpipe. Go up the laneway between Harry and Me and Cellarbrations to fully appreciate this.

small garden15small garden 19Soon to come, peas.

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small garden 20It is an inspiration and I feel I need to upgrade my own plantings, somehow. Thank you Gary and staff.

Take a guided edible weed walk

Every Saturday morning at 10am there is a great thing going here in Daylesford for people interested in a bit of a wild food forage. During a two hour walk you will learn to identify 20-30 species of edible weeds growing on verges and naturestrips. To book a spot, call Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman on 0418 523 308 or email permapoesis@gmail.com. edible weedshttp://theartistasfamily.blogspot.com.au/ for more details and pictures. Lunch is included at the end of the walk. Sounds to me like an excellent way to see (and eat) Daylesford. There is nothing wrong with gaining a little new knowledge!

Spring garden

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Spring! The last frost is gone (only two weeks ago) and the garden is at that wonderful point before you have to hack away with a machete to keep it in check, yet growing nicely. See the waterlily leaves in the wine barrel? Just starting.

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I had to put my hand out as a size comparison for the blooms on this rhododendron. It is incredible. I didn’t plant this, it would have been planted by Alf Hedland, the old gardener at the Botanic Gardens who once lived here. He was keen on rhododendrons, I’ve been told. Thank you, Alf, from the bottom of my heart, for all the beautiful plants you left.

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Rhubarb, doing its spring thing. I don’t provide breakfast at the Pip, you have to provide your own. I can give you a recipe and the rhubard however, just BYO yoghurt.

Recipe for Stewed Rhubarb – great breakfast or dessert!

Buy some plain or vanilla yoghurt. Pick a stalk or two of rhubarb, cut off the leaf and destring the stalk, chop in pieces. Get an apple too (though not necessary) and chop. Or squeeze an orange, not necessary either. Put all in small pan on the stove with some sugar and a little water, bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with the yoghurt.

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Loganberry just starting, might not be loganberry, lost the label… See the difference between the stone walls in the back and the front? The back were original, they are all volcanic lava. Lightweight stones, no substance at all. This is because Wombat Hill is a volcano, and around Daylesford you see this stone a lot. The stonework in the rest of the garden I added, and it is made from stone from Pyrenees Quarries in Castlemaine. This is a playground for lovers of stone. If you are on a budget, there is a large pile at the back where they put the stone which they don’t want. Odd shapes and sizes, too odd to lay easily etc. You can fill a trailer for a very small amount of money compared to the other stone, if you are prepared to work with all the irregularities. I am! They also sort the slate out in good and odd, and you can get a pallet of odd if you are lucky with your timing. It sells the minute they put it out, usually.

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The raspberries are not ready, but there will be a fabulous crop this year. I tried to make the bees stay in the picture with their fat little legs as they are working hard but they refused to cooperate, were too busy to appear on camera.

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Blueberry in the foreground. Apparently, these bushes can grow to quite big sizes but I am yet to see it. They are in their second year only, have seen little growth so far except for one bush which is a little older. I dug it up from my garden at home and moved it. That it survived at all is a miracle as blueberries dislike their roots being touched. You even have to be careful when weeding that you don’t upset them. They also fail to thrive if you give them tapwater. Fortunately, the whole garden is on rainwater but that hasn’t helped yet. But I can see several berries starting to form… Hooray!

Ceiling paintings

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Your ceilings are an opportunity for decoration. There is a lot of space up there, unfettered by windows and doors. Since it is hard to paint upside down, you can do it the easy way and paint on boards which you glue and screw when they are finished. Fit lights as normal if you like, just drill a hole and thread the wire through.

Here I am, painting a ceiling for the Pip. It will be of Ferdinand von Mueller bringing conifers to the Botanic Gardens, an event which happened in the 1800s. I like storytelling through images. Look at the little wombat on my left. She is a tiny story on her own.

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It was just having a little look at what was happening… I painted these on thin MDF (about the only tine I will use MDF). I have tried canvas in the past, and kind of wallpapered it up. Not so good, problems with bubbles and unevenness, since you can’t stretch it. You could draw on paper and glue it up too I suppose, anything goes. I put a couple of coats of gesso on first, then I paint with artist’s oils.

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painting20This is what my scetches look like. Very loose, more like ideas really. The rest happens on the painting itself. It I was to do a detailed sketch I would already be sick of it before painting it, and the element of surprise which I need will be gone, depriving me of pleasure. This is pretty much how I do most things, a loose idea in my head and then I work it through as I am doing it.

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Starting a different one. The long bits on the left are to extend my cornices, making them more impressive. No, I don’t stencil. I find it just as quick to paint straight on, and give me the bonus of a general unevenness which is something I always strive for. I have looked very hard at Albert Pictor for my borders and general style. He was a medieval church painter and pearl embroiderer in Sweden, and he did borders JUST like these. Being a church painter, he also filled all the wall space with stories.

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Starting a fill of greeny-yellowy tendrils, with leaves and exotic blooms. Yes, I have changed clothes, twice now. It takes a little while to do a ceiling like this, I usually keep several things on the go as you have to wait for oilpaint to dry or you put your hand in it.

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I have roughly scetched out the tendrils in pencil. I use a coloured art pencil as a lead one will dissolve and smudge into the oilpaint, leaving it dirty looking.

painting9The nuances and colour shifts in the paint are very simple to achieve. Simply squeeze out a little of three colours or so, along with a little medium (dilutes the paint), Put some on your brush without mixing with any great intention, go back for more, brush it out, repeat. Every time you go back for more the paint gives you a little different look for those strokes as you brush them out. Oil blends easily.

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The ground looks far more yellow in the photo than in real life. The men are two gold panners having a conversation. What about? Gold, of course. I attached the tendrils to the ground next to the miners, to grow out from them and take flight in their fancy gold dreams

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Here is another one, again with the same borders. Though I vary the insides, I feel it gives greater cohesion to maintain a similarity of theme. I have changed clothes again, and appear to have lost my hat. What’s the inside of this one? Who knows! I do round ones too, for more images head to the permanent page of ”the art” in the menu.

You need help putting them up if there is wiring to pull through. I can do them by myself unless they are very big and if there is no wiring, but usually there is a central ceiling light to navigate around.

Use liquid nails or similar building adhesive, have a long stick handy with a cloth at the top end to jam the painting to the floor with and work fast.