Claire's Blog

The Eden Project

The Eden Project is an environmental conservation site built on an old quarry used for china clay. The purpose of the Eden Project is to provide a centre of environmental education and display plant species from around the world to preserve them for future generations.

 

It is split into three sections known as the biomes, the Mediterranean biome, the rainforest biome and the outdoor biome. There is also a building called the core. Inside the inner chamber of the core is a giant seed made purely of granite. Two of the biomes are large domed greenhouse structures made up of hexagonal pieces. The rainforest biome is 240m long x 110 m wide and is 50 m high. It has a treetop walk, a large waterfall and examples of reconstructed rainforest homes from around the world. There are rainforest crops from around the world as well including cocoa beans, yellow pods that are used for making chocolate, coffee beans which were bright red beans with seeds inside that are roasted to make coffee. There was rice which was grass like and planted in flooded fields, mangos bananas and Baobab trees. The Baobab tree has seed pods which are used to make vanilla flavouring for chocolate, which was delicious. There is also an outdoor biome that displays some local plants as well as examples of every day plant use.

 

The day we went there was an arts and craft area where we were able to make reindeer antlers, decorate baubles, make candy cane mice and write a love letter. There was also an ice skating rink which looked like loads of fun. In the Mediterranean Biome there was story telling twice a day. We went to both and heard two different stories. The first story a lady named Jenny read a story by Xena Colman which was about a girl named Heather and little people called the Bucklewidden who lived in the Gorse plants and made very fine clay pottery. The second story was a fairy tale about a princess lost in the forest and how she freed a man who was imprisoned in an iron stove. He turned out to be a prince and they were married. Both stories were accompanied by instruments and were very entertaining.

 

After the sun went down there was a lantern parade led by a marching band and illuminated statues including a dog with a gramophone, followed by Rudolph, then a light house, finishing off with father time. Everyone walked behind on of these, we got to hold lanterns and we followed the lighthouse. At the end there was a 10 m Christmas tree outline that was set on fire, followed with fire works, the perfect way to end a great day. 

Wales

Wales

My grandad immigrated to Australia in 1956 when he was 13 years of age. He travelled by boat with his parents, 4 siblings, grandma and aunt. Their passage over took three months and cost 10 pounds each. The Australian government subsidised their fare because they wanted people to come to Australia. Not only did the ten pounds cover the ship voyage, it covered the entire journey to their final destination in north QLD. The ship docked in Sydney and they caught the train for the final leg of their journey. For meals on the train journey tables of food were set out on the platforms for everyone on the train as these were immigrant train exclusively run for immigrants.

Prior to immigrating my grandad lived in Wales and we have came here to see where he grew up. The little town where he lived in the middle of southern Wales where my great grandad managed a farm. It looks like maybe every one is moving away from here. We visited the shop where grandad used to buy sweets which was closed, as was the post office and the service station. Even the school that grandad went to closed in 2006. It was a small school established in 1795, with only 2 classrooms.

In the town we also visited my great great grandad's grave. He had been living at the farm in Wales with my great grandad when he died in 1952 and he was the only member of his family in the cemetery. His wife immigrated to Australia with my great grandad (her son), his family and her daughter. My great great grandad had 3 more sons, two of which also immigrated, only one son was left in England.

We drove up the lane to the farm where Grandad lived. There were hedgerows on both sides which were about 2 metres tall. Grandad said when it snowed the hedgerows would fill up with snow and he would have to walk to school over the snow. The farm house had been renovated in the 1970s, but the other farm buildings were run down. The current owner runs around 400 head of sheep on the farm.

Since my grandad left there has been many changes in the area, the most obvious is the 110 metre high wind turbines which run along the ridge that the farm house looks towards. There is a new road being built along this ridge in preparation for over 100 more 140 metre tall towers. This causes conflict within the community as most locals are opposed to the turbines but those who have them on their property are paid high rents for the land.

It was really interesting to see how different Wales is to northern Queensland and to think about what an adventure it must have been to immigrate.

Scotland

While we were in Scotland we saw many men dressed in traditional Scottish dress both at weddings and at heritage sites. Traditional Scottish dress consists of :

 

Tartan

The distinctive checked pattern, is a symbol of Scotland. Each family or clan has it own specific tartan pattern, if you are not Scottish you can wear the Royal Stuart tartan. Dating back to roman times, though thought to be associated with the Gaels who arrived from Ireland. By the early 1700s it was the uniform of the highlands, not long after it was band by the English government along with the Gaelic language and bagpipes in an attempt to squash clan unity. Most modern setts (tartan patterns ) were invented for a book “the costume of the clans” in the 1800s.

 

Kilt

Traditionally a tartan blanket for the night, it was wrapped and tied around the waist during the day, in modern times it became a pleated skirt. Men wear a sporran, a leather purse tied to the front of their kilt. They were gathered at the top and originated from medieval purses.

 

Shoes

Traditional shoes are called brouges. These are low leather shoes that were perforated, this allowed water that got into the shoe during walks to run out. The laces were tied high around the shin so that the tie stayed out of the mud.

 

Hat

On their heads the highland men wear a “Balmoral bonnet’ a knitted soft woollen cap often topped with a pompom called a toorie. The toorie is usually red, and has evolved into the small pom pom on top of golfing hats and the button onto baseball hats. The ribbon on the band was originally used to secure the bonnet tightly.

 

Iceland














Aurora Borealis – The Northern Lights


The aurora borealis is named after the Roman goddess of dawn Aurora and the Greek name for the north wind Boreas. It is caused by eruptions of charged particles from the sun being pulled by earth’s gravity. When the particles collide with earths atmosphere it creates the northern lights.

The further north you are the better they are because the Earth's magnetic field is thinnest so more particles can get in and it is more spectacular to watch. Iceland is on the Artic circle so it is very far north.

It is best in winter because it’s dark and in summer in the polar regions the sun never goes down, so it's light day and night. There needs to be no cloud cover because you cannot see the lights through the clouds. There also needs to be a high level of geomagnetic activity. There are web sites that predict this activity and the amount of cloud cover. We used these web sites to help us go out at the right time. We didn’t see the lights until our third time out looking, mainly because there was too much cloud cover.

We saw the most amazing display of northern nights between 3 and 4 am, in rural Iceland about 30 minutes outside of Reykjavik. Light danced across the sky overhead, starting in the north from a point like a big spotlight and stretching from horizon to horizon, a first class performance fit for a king. There were more stars then I have seen in my entire life as the backdrop of the show. It was constantly changing shape and intensity throughout the night sky. I just couldn’t look away from It, it was amazing 

I felt really warm inside even though it was -7 degrees celsius, there was no one else around and this amazing display was just for us, it made us want to dance and shout for joy.

 


 

Great English Writers

Whilst here in England we have been to the homes of two very different but equally famous authors, William Shakespeare and Beatrix Potter. Beatrix was writing in the early 1900s and lived in the Lakes District, on a working farm in the countryside, while Shakespeare lived during the early 1500s in a village in the Midlands. We visited Stratford upon Avon and saw where Shakespeare was born and where he grew up. We also visited the home where his wife Anne Hathaway grew up and the farm his mother lived on. We visited his grave which was right at the alter of the local church, he must have been very influential in his time to secure this position in the church. His wife, daughter and her husband were also buried here. The family needed to purchase land for the church to be buried within the church. We have a book of his plays, modified so we can understand them and I am really enjoying reading them.

Beatrix potter is a wonderful children's author and illustrator responsible for such characters as Peter Rabbit. She wrote little 'books' for young children and a novel called 'The Fairy Caravan'. The Fairy Caravan is about a circus of animals who cover them selves in fern seeds which makes then invisible to humans. The circus animals move around the town performing for all the animals there. The story is set in the village of Near Sarwey where her farm Hill End is and Beatrix felt is was too autobiographical to publish in England. She had written it just for herself but was encouraged to publish it in America by her publishers there. If wasn't published in England until nearly 10 years after her death.

France

The Somme Battlefields

The Somme is in Northern France and where many of the First World War battles were fought. The war was fought between 1914 and 1918 and was thought to be the war that would end all wars, unfortunately that wasn't to be. The First World War was between Germany, Austria, Turkey and their allies verses France, Russia, Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations and their allies.

Whilst on the Somme we saw cemeteries, battlefields, museums, memorials and even a school. The Victoria school is in Villers Britonneuxwas and was built with money that was donated by Australians after the war. In the school yard it had a big banner that said "Do not forget Australia" and to be Australian that felt really warm in my heart to know that my country has helped the children at this school to have this amazing school and good education.

At Villers Bretonneux the Australian forces defended the town, stopping the advance of the German Army. The Australian solders were dug in around the town and got to know the people in the village well.

The First World War is very significant to Australia because it was the first time we represented Australia internationally by fighting as an independent nation.
Sign 'Do not forget Australia' in the Victoria School, school yard.
Sign 'Do not forget Australia' in the Victoria School, school yard.
Laying a poppy at an unknown Australian's grave
Laying a poppy at an unknown Australian's grave

Italy - Pompeii and Pizza

Rome and The Vatican

We have stayed in Rome for a night and went to the Vatican City. It is in Rome and is its own little country where the Pope lives. The Vatican is guarded by Swiss guards who wear funky uniforms designed by Michelangelo. They are red under tights with ribbon like strips of blue and yellow. Within the Vatican there is a museum with a display of a collection of things and treasures the Catholic Church has collected.

The Egyptian collection:
My favourite room was the Egyptian collection, where I saw hieroglyphics, the little symbols that mean letters, words or things. We also saw artefacts from the burial ritual including the jars that held the organs that were removed during mummification. We saw an unwrapped mummy, a wrapped mummy with shroud and beads, a stone tomb which held the painted coffins called a sarcophagus and little doll-like sculptures made of clay or wood called shabtis. Shabtis were workers for the afterlife for the person in the coffin.

Gallery of maps:
The gallery of maps is a hall on route to the Sistine Chapel, it is 120 m long and 6 meters wide. The walls are painted with 40 topographic maps of the regions of Italy from the 16th century. The ceiling above the maps is painted with historical and geographical illustrations of the regions painted on the wall below. The amazingly painted ceiling looks almost sculptured and is incredibly colourful and vibrant.

The Sistine Chapel:
The Sistine chapel is renowned for its amazingly painted ceiling, it was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1511. Michelangelo was in his 30's at the time and lay on his back on scaffolding for the 4 year process. Several years later he took 7 years to paint the last judgement on the end wall of the chapel. He added himself as a man who was skinned alive and he painted the man holding a knife and his skin, the face on the skin is Michelangelo. He also painted one of his colleges who doubted Michelangelo’s ability to paint the ceiling. Michelangelo got his revenge by painting his colleague being traumatised by devils in the painting.

Rome and the Vatican are gorgeous and the Sistine chapel is amazing and I can't wait to go back.

Love Claire 

Pompeii

Pompeii is an archeological site near the active volcano Mt. Vesuvius

 

What it was like as a child in Pompeii

 

As a child it would have been very different from modern society. Children would have had to be careful of carts and chariots, a cart with a wall on the front while someone had the reins and there was also room for one other person. Charioteers and gladiators would drive them standing up, whilst someone on the back is shooting arrows at their opponent. From our experience children would have fallen over a lot because the paths and paved roads were rocky and uneven and the paths small. Children would have had to be careful of traffic. I have no idea if the children went to school or not, but if they did the upper class would have gone while their slaves worked.

 

Roman houses of Pompeii

 

The houses were all pretty much the same, they all had a small kitchen called a culina. They also had a room with couch like furniture for beds, called the triclinium. There was a beautiful garden with trees and a fountain called the peristilium. They had a central courtyard called the atrium with sloping roofs and a hole where rainwater fell into a basin in the floor called the impluvium. If the family has a business there will be a shop in the front of the house. Most of the houses we visited were large and had beautiful paintings and mosaics. My favourite building in Pompeii is the Take away shop called a thermopolium with a mosaic bench. They had holes in the bench where pots of hot food were kept. There they hot air under the bench channelled from fire to keep the food hot. When they excavated they even found the earnings of the day of the eruption.

 

The eruption of Vesuvius 79 AD

 

 In 79 AD  Mt. Vesuvius erupted, spewing out lava and hot ash. Pompeii was not directly below the volcano but several km away. The eruption lasted 3 days and buried Pompeii under 6 m of hot volcanic ash. This layer of ash preserved it and it saw light quite by accident just more than two centuries ago. It wasn’t blown away but simply covered with ash, preserving daily life.

 

I really enjoyed learning about the history of Pompeii.

 

Pizza

While in southern Italy we enjoyed lots of pizza from the local pizza shop. Apparently the pizza here is better then the pizza in the north, and I agree. Let me tell you how the pizza man made us pizza.

 

First he takes the pizza dough out of his drawer, the dough will start off as a ball like shape cut in half. He will then put the dough in a pile of flour and flatten it a little. Then he will push the dough out on the edge of a marble bench with the heel of his hand, working around in a circle. He ladled a measure of sauce on to the centre of the pizza then used the back of the spoon he spread out the sauce, careful to leave an inch without sauce on the edge.

 

To top the pizza he used either tiny cubes, or big chunks, of buffalo mozzarella, and other things such as anchovies, artichokes, ham and mushrooms.

 

After he had topped the pizza he would place the pizza at the back of the pizza oven with a long pole with a flat end. The oven had an arched opening and was about 2.5 meters long, the floor was made of stones that linked together and the oven was fuelled with fire wood.

 

After about 8 minutes the pizza makers apprentice would use a different shaped paddle to turn the pizza around, using a rocking motion on the edge of the pizza to spin it. After a couple more minutes the apprentice removes the pizza from he oven and puts it in the pizza box, and then he drizzled it with olive oil.

 

The pizzas were absolutely delicious and the pizza making process was really interesting.

 

Spain

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was an artist who lived in northern Spain and is famous for painting very strange pictures. Dali painted the same things many times in his paintings. Here are a few of the things he painted many times:

 

Crutches – Dali used crutches in his paintings to represent things that he felt needed support. In a famous self-portrait he painted crutches supporting his nose, chin, eyes, mouth and head.

 

 

Gala – Gala was Dali’s wife and muse, she inspired him and provided him with emotional support. He painted her often and this is a famous portrait of her with lamb chops on her shoulders.

 

Soft clocks – Dali saw everything to be hard and permanent or soft and temporary. As time doesn’t last forever, clocks were painted as soft objects. Dali was inspired after eating a plate of warm camembert cheese that had melted and he saw a soft clock in the shape.

 

When we were in Figueres we visited Dali’s theatre museum, I really enjoyed learning about his amazing and intense surrealism paintings.

 

 

 

Norway

Norway was beautiful with a lot of rain and the smell of fresh seafood. It has interesting history and lovely wharfs and fjords. One of the interesting and historical things about Bergen is the Hanseatic Traders.

 

The Hanseatic Traders were a group of German men who established a trading monopoly in Bergen dealing in trading of stock fish. Stock fish was dried, unsalted cod and was an important food source during medieval times. The trade was important for the exchange of stockfish with wheat and grains and other items that were not available in Norway. In 1349 the Bubonic plague or black death, arrived in Bergen which killed the ruling King and his family as well as many citizens. This let the German Hanseatic Traders take over and set up their trading empire in Bergen.

 

The area where the Hanseatic traders set up was called Bryggen. Bryggen means 'the wharf' in Norwegian and a big wharf runs along the front of the whole area, with rows of wooden houses going back up the hill away from the harbour. There were many fires in Bryggen throughout history but after each fire, the houses were rebuilt as they were before. Today you can walk through the streets of Bryggen and see the houses as they would have been in medieval times. In Bryggen there was a museum which had been build around the foundations of houses that had been build in the middle of the 12th century and destroyed in a fire of 1170.

 

The buildings of Bryggen were made of wood and painted maroon, yellow or grey. Some of the buildings were leaning onto other buildings. Most of the buildings had pulleys and hooks on the third floor so items could be lifted into the attics to be stored. There was one stone building in Bryggen that was built in 1666 in honour of a German Prince that was used to store all of the important documents and papers of the Traders. This building survived all of the fires since it was built and kept all of those papers safe from the fires. This allows historians to study the history of Bryggen.

 

Norway is a very beautiful country with beautiful fjords, seafood, landscapes and people, however it is very expensive. I really enjoyed visiting Bryggen and learning about the history of how the Hanseatic traders and Bryggen led to the development of Bergen and how it is today.

 

Speak to you next time about Spain,

 

Claire

  1. Stock fish
  2. Bryggen waterfront from Bergen Harbour
  3. Foundations of buildings built in mid 12th century that were destroyed in the fire of 1170.
  4. Stone building built in 1666 that protected all of the important documents from fire
  5. Bryggen building showing pulley and hook to lift goods into the attic
  6. Bryggen building

 

Sweden

The hunt for moose

 

We went to Sweden to see some moose. In Sweden we stayed with Alice and Arvid, Alice asked us what we’d like to do in Sweden and we said we would like to see some moose, oh and pick berries too. 

We went berry picking in hunt for moose, no moose.

We swam in a lake in search of moose, no moose (well no not really, it was just a lovely little lake to swim in).

We saw deer, fox, cranes, Canadian geese and a beaver, but no moose.

We walked in the forest, still no moose.

We climbed down a cliff, went into a cave, found a moose footprint and some delicious berries that moose like too eat, but no moose.

We saw lots of very cool road signs warning us to be careful of moose, no moose.

We even ate some moose, tasty but didn’t really feel right when we desperately wanted to see one alive, while we were at it we also ate lots of other beautiful foods (Alice is an awesome baker).

 

So we thought we’d head to Norway in search of moose. Still lots of road signs and even more moose friendly forests. Here we even tried going for a drive really late at night and staking out the edges of the lakes were the moose like to hang out and eat the water plants, we stayed out until 1.30am and still no moose, despite assurances that we would see plenty of moose.

So we accepted out fate, no moose for us, and got on with enjoying Norway, then heading down to Spain.

 

Our drive south took us back through Sweden….and we couldn’t resist one last chance at seeing a moose.

 

Tahdah…..

 

 

Aren’t they just the most beautiful and wonderfully weird creatures. The moose antlers are large and felty and we were lucky enough to see them before they fall off after mating in August. They start to grow again after winter, around March. We saw 2 males, 5 females and 2 baby moose that were 11 weeks old and already stood about 1 metre tall. Thanks Sweden…..we found our moose!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Germany

Wildlife Presentation

Click on the first photo and select play to watch my presentation on some of the animals that I saw in a wildlife park in the UNESCO listed German Beech Forests.

Thu

11

Jul

2013

Germany

Schönau am Königssee

  

Hallo readers,

 

This week I am in the Bavarian Alps. We are here because my dad was just looking on google maps and zoomed in and saw a beautiful chapel. We drove here from Malterdingen and went through the German Riviera and here we are at the Bavarian Alps. But I want to talk to you about our big boat trip.                                                         

 

We took a battery powered boat on Lake Königssee, all transport on the lake is battery powered because the environment is so clean that no diesel or petrol boats are allowed. Königsee is a five miles long (eight km) fjord-like lake and in English would be called Kings Lake. On the boat ride we listened to the tour guide who played the trumpet to the alps as they echoed back.  On the edge of Königssee Lake we saw St Bartholomä, the beautiful chapel that my dad saw on google  maps. The building behind the chapel was the summer palace of the Bavarian Kings.

 

St Bartholomä was beautiful and has some really fine architecture and decorative sculptures and statues. It was a small chapel but was absolutely gorgeous and I hope to be able to go back some day. 

 

At the bottom of the mountains around the lake there are meadows where the cows come for summer, the cows are transported on a large flat boat called a barge to these summer pastures.

 

The Austrian border is a couple kilometres to the East of the lake and we will go to Austria tomorrow to visit Salzburg.

 

I will write next from another country, the Czech Republic.

 

Auf Wiedersehen

Claire

 

 

 

Malterdingen

We've arrived in Germany from London by going through the Chunnel, a train that goes under the English Channel to France. From France we drove to Malterdingen in Germany. The drive took all day, through amazing countryside of fields of poppies and flowers.

 

In Germany my Dad wants to research our family history. Our family emmigrated from Nordweil, Germany to Australia in 1856. We don't know for certain why they left, but at that time, there was poverty, high unemployment and food shortages in Germany. We went to Nordweil which is in the region of the Black Forest. Dad and I went to the Nordweil church office where we were able to look for historical family records. We looked through many books which were 100s of years old. The pages were very fragile and one book was sticky taped together. The writing was very hard to read, but Dad managed to understand some of it. We found different families and some that we were looking for. We even found the birth record of Fridolin, who was my great great great great grandfather who was born in 1828. A picture of his record is on the Malterdingen page of the website Europe 2013. After we finished looking at the books, we went for a walk through the historical part of town. We saw the oldest building in Nordweil which was built in 1577. The lady who lives there showed us the ancient wine cellar, the water well and the original carved stone entrance. The well was 20m deep and she let me drop a stone in to check the depth. Earlier on we went to the open air museum where we saw many historical things such as examples of farm houses and household goods from the 1600 - 1800s. I also made a wooden cuckoo whistle and stand which I burnt my name onto. Today and tomorrow we go to a medieval festival which should be great.

 

Auf wiedersehen from Malterdingen

Claire

27 Comments

Getting ready to go!

Sun, 12 May 13 - Brisbane

 

Dear Blog,

 

I just can't wait go, I'm so excited and its just six weeks till we go of to Europe.

 

Claire!

Comments: 2
  • #2

    M (Monday, 09 October 2023 20:22)

    I am in love with ur daughter

  • #1

    Miranda (Tuesday, 07 February 2023 22:07)

    Truly adorable!