Saturday, July 30, 2016

This week's links ...

Lately the weekends are so busy. I seem to go from one kids activity to the next ... squeezing in cooking dinner and a load of washing in between. The Boy and The Big Girl both played the top teams in their respective basketball divisions with two very different results. The Boy had a 43-17 loss ... at least 5 members of the opposition were taller than his tallest team mate, one looked like he was getting facial hair, so it was always going to be difficult. It's amazing what a range of development there is at the 12-13 age group. The Big Girl's team had a 17-15 win so they were celebrating.

Hubby is off overseas tomorrow and there are more activities, plus I'm going to disappear to church in the morning so I thought I'd quickly post some links while Hubby finishes watching Collingwood win..

1. Substitutions for strange American ingredients.

2. Teen dystopian books for adults.

3. Secrets to amazing iphone photos.

4. Non-sandwich lunchbox ideas.

5. Organising evernote.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day Trip to Siena:Watching the Palio Trials

This was the Big Girl's second most enjoyed day of our trip, after our day trip to Lake Garda. We had a very early start, catching the 7:15am bus from Florence. The reason for the early start was Palio trials. The Palio is a horse race held twice a year in Siena around the Piazza del Campo. You can read all about it here. In the days prior to the race two trials are held, the morning one at 9am. We arrived in Siena at 8:30am and starting heading in the direction of the Campo. Soon we saw a mother and daughter wearing their contrada scarves (Porcupine) so we fell in behind and as we followed we became part of the stream of people heading towards the campo.

Before the Palio morning trial

It's a 10-15min walk from the bus stop. Inside the campo, school children in contrada colours sang and chanted from grandstands in front of Palazzo Pubblico. Sand covers the cobblestones and barriers are set up around the track. We could easily get a good spot close to the barriers to watch the trial. Soon the final barriers were in place, you need to be in place before that happens. The horses enter and do a lap, a loud explosive detonation alerts us that the trial will be beginning soon. The horses try lining up on the starting line ...

Getting ready Palio trial race

but one refuses and after some minutes all the horses do another lap of the campo before attempting again. This time the race begins and the front horses race past us, by the time they reach us on their second and third pass, they are taking it fairly easily. The trials are run to get the horses used to race conditions so the outcome does not matter.

Palio Trial Siena

Still, when the second explosive detonation signals the first horse past the finish, members of the winning contrada vault the barricades and celebrate, gesturing enthusiastically and congratulating the rider and each other.

Palio Trial Race Finished

After the barriers are opened we take a stroll around town. I had pre-booked the Duomo for 11am and apart from lunch and the cathedral complex, our only plans were to experience the hill town. I had downloaded some walking maps and we decided to do the orange track before our booking at the Duomo. As we walked a large group from the Chiocciola contrada passed leading their horse, chanting and cheering all the way.

Heading back to the Contrada

All the streets are decked out with contrada flags and lanterns.

Siena Streets

So even if, like us, the crowds of the Palio on race day would be just too much for you it is certainly worth coming out on the days prior to get a taste of the Palio festival.

Siena itself is a beautiful destination. I'm going to save my photos of the Duomo complex for later because it is truly stunning ... one of my favourite churches ... possibly the favourite that we visited and deserves it's own post. We had some fun looking for the various contrada animals.

Panther, Siena

Admiring the view from the wall ...

View from Siena's walls

Eating lunch at Osteria la Chiacherra, outside on the steeply sloping street on stools and tables with legs on the downhill side cut longer so the food and your bottom don't fall off.

Osteria la Chiacherra

Checking out the Campo without horses,

Palazzo Pubblico

enjoying a cool gelato and a walk around the fort before catching the bus back to Siena.

Friday, July 22, 2016

This week's links ...

Another weekend. These weeks seem to rush past. Riley is back at dog school today and later the girls and I will be going shopping. The Little Girl is going to one of the local boys school's social tonight and of course has nothing to wear. She has an idea of what she wants ... hopefully it is in the shops and in her size.

Here's some links for you weekend reading:

1. I listen to podcasts sometimes when I'm cooking or doing the ironing. I haven't listened to any of these but they might be worth a listen ... 11 Inspiring TED talks.

2.  Bujo Hacks. I use tabs and sometimes threading but haven't tried any of the others.

3. Homemade Instant noodles.

4. 10 Best Pre-workout Snacks.

5. 100 must read Scifi and Fantasy books by female authors.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day Trip to Lake Garda from Verona: Walking from Garda to Torri del Benaco (kind of ... )

Our day trip from Verona to Lake Garda was one of the favourite days of our trip. I'd decided to do the walk from Garda to Torri del Benaco via prehistoric rock engravings. A Torri round trip is in Walking the Italian Lakes, but I'd heard rumours that you could also visit them from the Garda side. I emailed the Torri tourist office and obtained maps for both walks.

Our plan was to take the bus from Verona to Garda and start the walk from there, but The Big Girl was getting a cold and was having some trouble with her feet with all the walking so we decided to catch the bus that runs north to from Garda and hop off at Punta San Viglio. This cuts about 50mins off the walk and drops you off directly underneath the part of the walk that diverts into the forest towards the rock engravings.

We caught the 9:05am bus from Piazza Bra which arrived in Garda at 10:02am. Then we had to wait about 20mins for the bus north. The bus stop at Punta San Viglio is on the main road near the car park, which luckily for us was manned so we took our map and got some directions. Following the dirt road to the right into the car park we walked to the end where a gravel path headed off to the right, up the hill and into the forest. There were several paths, which I think merged later up the track. We took the one furthest to the right that looped up and around the headland. It was quite rough in parts and we did wonder whether we were heading in the right direction until we came to the part that was marked with green to match the trail on our map. There are gorgeous views, down to Punta San Viglio and also over the southern section of the lake.

Lake Garda Panorama 1

We kept going until we came to the junction between the tracks from Torri and the Garda track. From here we took the track to the left up the hill, I think it was marked with both green and red. The track becomes quite steep and was washed out in parts as we neared the engravings. These were signed so you can't miss them. The first large rock had a number of engravings, the second was not as extensive and seemed more weathered. I read somewhere that pouring water on them helps them stand out, but we didn't find that to be the case.


The track from here travels further up into the forest and through the village of Albisano to Torri. We decided to backtrack to the junction of the red and green tracks and took the furthest right that wound back round down the hill. This track soon joins back roads and country lanes into Torri and was very scenic. The views open out to take in the northern part of the lake which is spectacular.

During the walk we also enjoyed the butterflies, wild flowers and the reptilian wildlife which are a favourite of The Big Girl. There were these stunning butterflies in the forest that looked like the lacy white flowers they were flying around but they never stopped to let us get a closer look.

Torri itself is beautiful.  We arrived on the promenade at 12:30pm, just in time for lunch. A long lunch, a glass of wine, sitting back enjoying the view was a perfect way to renew our energy after our walk. At about 2pm we went for a stroll around town, first along the promenade, with a quick wade to test the waters (warm at this time of year), then back through the narrow streets before checking out the castle with it's Orangerie out back.


Then we relaxed under a tree, enjoying the view of the lake while we waited for the 3:25pm ferry back to Garda. Torri del Benaco, apart from being beautiful is also less crowded than some of the other towns around the lake which was perfect for us. The ferries are not cheap in comparison with the bus, and much slower, but if you go to Lake Garda you must experience the lake on the water at least once.


For maps and detailed descriptions of the walk to the rock engravings from both Torri and Garda you can email the tourist office. They also sent details of a walk to the villages in the hills above and to the north of Torri:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

This week's links ...

Well it was back to dog school for The Big Girl and Riley this morning after an unintended, almost 1 year break which meant today was a review to make sure he was fit for mixing with other dogs and humans. He passed with flying colours of course, which means at least the next 9 Saturday mornings will be spent at Kintala. Today is the most gorgeous day, sunny and little wind after a week of awful weather, we can only hope that our good fortune continues. This afternoon I'm going to tackle the lounge room with The Boy. His many projects conducted up there, plus a growing array of music and musical instruments have left it in a state that makes me shudder every time I need to enter. The Little Girl is away on music camp so I've made the executive decision to get rid of most of the old piano books apart from her final book, that way there will be room for her current violin music, plus hopefully, The Boy's current drums and guitar music. There's also a pile of violin books that she will need to decide whether to store or throw once she gets home.

Anyway onto this week's links which have nothing to do with dog school or clutter filled lounge rooms ...

1. As mentioned in my last post, my photography has taken a backseat lately but I'd like to kick start it again and what better way than with Rinda's Scavenger Hunt. I've already collected a few in Italy and hope to remember now that I'm home to look for the rest. For further photography inspiration: 16 Photography Projects.

2. How to be Super Organised with Evernote. For those of you who are digital lovers, but would transfer extremely well to a bullet journal format I think. Or what about Bullet Journal + GTD.

3. How to Arrange Flowers.

4. The Little Girl likes to take salads to school for her lunch. Often I just roast up some veges, cook some mixed rice or quinoa, sautee some greens and she picks what she wants in the morning, adds a dressing and some nuts or seeds and she's good to go. My go to dressing is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some mustard, salt and pepper. Maybe was can get a bit more adventurous with these homemade salad dressings.

5. Donna Hay's new week treats.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Finally ...

could apply to a few things, like finally I'm posting here after a long break ...

I just checked and my last post was March 9th about our trip to Central Australia that was this time last year and I haven't yet finished my series of posts on that trip. I've missed posting here, especially since pretty much all my creative hobbies have gone by the wayside over the last few months. I just got back from a 2 week break in Italy with Hubby and The Big Girl and took a million photos ... well maybe not a million, but a lot and can't wait to get stuck into them. I also did daily 1min videos on my iphone, I just have two days that I didn't finish while we were away and once they're done I'll have a 15min movie of our trip.

I'll intend sharing something here but for now I'm easing back into blogging with a Twenty Words post.


Forty-two hours later her case arrives. Did it see some interesting places or just get lost in Milan's Malpensa airport?