Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Terrific Thailand 2015 - Day 3

Day 3 had arrived and this promised to be a fantastic day, travelling around Phuket to see some of it's special places.  Last time we were in Thailand, we met a lovely Thai family who owned a touring/ transport business and we became friends.  On this visit, we contacted them again and went on a tour to some places that were truly amazing.  Join me now as I show you what we got up to on Day 3 of our Thailand getaway.
We started at a beach that was further down south, out of town. Now this is what I see in my mind when I think of Thailand; magnificent white sand, clear blue sky and crystal blue water.  It was magnificent.
This beach was not over crowded and people, young and old, were basking in the sun, playing in the sand and swimming in the cool sea.  It was pristine, it was spotlessly clean. it was magic.
I had to have my photo taken on this white sand, close to the beautiful water, because for me, this is most certainly what I call a beach!  I wanted to remember being there, feeling the hot sun beating down on me as I stood in awe of this beautiful place.
Our next stop was a famous look out where you could see the whole of Phuket.  We had been here before but wanted to visit this spot again as the view was breath taking.
I like this photo of my husband and I with this view of Phuket in the back ground.  It was a hot day, with the temperature reaching about 37 degrees.  This was the same each and every day, where there was plenty of sunshine during the day and the nights were always warm.
We moved on to a second beach further south of the city and it was just as spectacular as the first.  The sand was so fine to walk on, the water was cool, not cold and this beach was not over crowded.
You can see here how magic this place is.  I really loved these beaches south of the island.  On our next visit to Phuket, we will spend more time here, away from busy Patong.
What a sight for sore eyes!  It is really worth a visit to Thailand to experience this beautiful place.  If you enjoy hot weather, stunning beaches and scenery, like to eat spicy food, then I highly recommend you travel here.
We moved on from the beach to another spot where we could really appreciate the coast line.  It would be fantastic to be on one of these boats and travel to this little island.
Look at the colour of the water!  Isn't it just heaven?  To swim in it is amazing, it is cool, not cold and is crystal clear.
By this time, we are getting a great appreciation of these more remote places, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I am loving the sun, to feel it's warmth and to gaze in amazement at the stunning scenery.
Next stop was the Botanical Gardens.  We hadn't been here before and being the keen gardener that I am, this was a real treat.
It was a lush garden, very diverse and green.  I enjoyed looking at the plants and landscaping that was so very different to what I usually see at home.
The garden beds often had sculptures scattered throughout them.  These were interesting and this mass of flowers was beautiful.
As you enter the Botanical Gardens, one of the first things you see is this heart shaped wreath.  It is very large and colourful.  My husband wanted to take a photo of me standing behind it......isn't he lovely?!?
We walked on and it was spectacular.  The garden was very well maintained, it was eye catching, had plenty of variety and you could see that much effort had been put into its design.
These colourful statues are so very Thai, with bright, bold colours that provided such a sharp contract to the greens of the garden.
As we walked through the garden, I took many, many was a magic place. Here are just a small handful of them to give you an idea of what it was like.  Here is another peaceful statue, carefully placed in the garden.  A truly special place.
I couldn't leave the garden without taking a shot of these pretty orchids.  They were so healthy and the bold pink against the white was stunning.
In another section of the garden was a cactus garden.  I really like cactus and these ones were huge.  As with the entire garden, they were thriving.
As we walked around the garden, there were little spots like this everywhere.  It was so tastefully designed, incorporating traditional Thai figures with native plants.  I have very fond memories of this place when I look at photos like this.
Everything in the Botanical Gardens was thick, healthy and lush.  Here is a good example. It also had many contrasts of colour and a large variety of themes throughout.  It took a good hour and half to walk through the entire garden and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our last stop for the day, after having lunch in Old Phuket town, was The Trick Eye Museum.  This place was loads of fun.  It had interactive paintings on the walls and you could become a part of this little fantasy world.  It made some great and fun photos.
The photos turned out well and you wouldn't know by looking at them that these scenes are all physically 2 dimensional, but the results are really good!
This photo is this is something that my husband would actually do to cause trouble and it gave us a big giggle.
These wall paintings were brilliant.  Here I am running from the stampede.  Great illusion.
I just had to have my photo taken on a scooter.  This was a common sight in Phuket, there were scooters with side cars everywhere.  Amazing 3D effects.
My husband's break open a bank vault filled with cash.......yes, he would like that!
We are now back at our hotel and it had been a wonderful day.  We were so happy to be here, feeling like teenagers again, away from reality and our usual commitments for a while.  We had planned this holiday for months and were thrilled to finally be experiencing it.  It was only day 3 and we had 8 more to go!  Yes, this promised to be a great escape, full of fun and adventure and we embraced it with open arms.  Join me again soon when I walk you through days 4 and 5 of out Thailand getaway :) xxx

Friday, 10 April 2015

Terrific Thailand 2015 - Days 1 & 2

Hello dear readers!  I have been a bit quiet lately because my lovely man and I have been jet Phuket in Thailand, yet again.  We have been back in Australia for a couple of weeks and I have been madly trying to get into some sort of routine at home. We had a fantastic holiday, just the two of us, our kids stayed at my mum's place while we escaped reality for a while. I went crazy with my camera, taking close to 1000 shots!  I have been planning to write about our adventure since we got back and now will make a start. This could take a while, as I plan to work through my photos one by one and select some that I like to help me document our travels. So, sit back and join me now as I begin this blog series, 'Terrific Thailand 2015' and walk you through days 1 and 2.
When we arrived in Phuket, the first thing that hit us was the climate.  The weather in Phuket is one of two things, hot or very hot, especially at this time of year.  The days usually reached around 37 degrees, dropping only to 24 degrees at night.  That was it, the same each and every day, with plenty of sunshine.  I remember feeling so relieved to reach our hotel after an 8 hour flight from Melbourne. We arrived at night and in the morning, I went for a walk around the hotel.  Here is a nice view from near our room of the pool area.  It was always a joy to have a swim in the afternoons in the cool pool.
One of the very special things that fascinates me about Thailand is how 'quirky' it is.  I guess this is the best way to describe what I mean.  It is unusual, interesting and very different from home. Here is a classic example.  This is some sort of artistic creation that caught my eye in the hotel, an old TV, set up as a fish tank with an elephant's head on top of it.  I liked this, it was fun and gave me a giggle.
In the lobby of our hotel, I found this shelf that had some model cars on it and this very funky orange TV.  This television actually worked and the hotel staff used to watch it at night. I appreciated the effort that had been put into making this hotel a little bit different, a bit creative and it was a nice, comfortable place to stay.
Here we have a view of the street immediately outside our hotel on Nanai Road.  It was a narrow road with no footpath.  You could walk along it, carefully at the side of the road and try your best to dodge the many scooters that would zip along it. Yes, we were thrilled to be back in Thailand, a place that had captured our hearts and spirit 18 months earlier on our first visit.  It was hot, it was busy, it was zany, it was exciting, it was quirky, it was everything we remembered it to be and it was sure going to be one amazing adventure yet again.
Our first night out also happened to be my husband's birthday.  We had planned it that way and headed straight to his favourite place to eat and drink in Phuket, Nicky's Handlebar Hotel.  This is an amazing place to start a great night out.  It is a hugely successful business in Phuket, popular with many tourists, that has a motor bike theme. Throughout the place, it is jam packed with motor bikes and all sorts of memorabilia.  It always has great music and you can always get a good drink there. There are no hustlers to bother you, you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere.  Here I am in front of the bar that lights up at night.
The food in Thailand is just amazing, I will tell you more about that later.  David always likes to order the mixed grill at Nicky's, which is a very Western meal that he enjoys and I went straight for the Tom Yum, my all time favourite Thai soup.  We were so happy to spend David's birthday in such a great location.
Here is the happy couple.  You can see many bikes in the background.  Along this wall and in rooms out the back, there must be at least 150 motor bikes, many of them Harleys. They are all in beautiful condition and can be hired to take out for the day.  We enjoyed a good meal and several drinks together on this night at Nicky's.  David had a special birthday this year and we celebrated in fine form, adjusting to the heat and taking in all the sights and sounds of this magic place.
Last time we visited Phuket, we stayed outside of town, further down the coast along the beach.  This time, we wanted to have a different experience, so stayed right in Patong. Our hotel room was a suite that had a separate lounge room and kitchen.  Here you can see my little 'Phuket kitchen' that was very basic, but could still be used to do some cooking.  I wanted to take advantage of this, so we managed to do a bit of grocery shopping with the locals and I prepared some meals here. That in itself was a great experience. I bought myself a wok, frying pan and saucepan and cooked our breakfast each day and made some noodle/vegetable creations for me.
We walked everywhere on our holiday and must have covered many kilometres in total. We found a way to walk along the back streets to get into the main part of town and took this route each day. Along the way, I took great interest in the many 'shrines' and buildings we saw.  In Phuket, there are many of these special and sacred ornamental shrines that are very important to the Thai people.  I will show you more examples of these later.
You see many of these types of stands selling fuel.  It is always in bottles like this that the locals use to fill their scooters, which is the main form of transportation.  It is not expensive, compared to prices we pay in Australia and I have always found these little fuel stands to be so unusual and different from the Western petrol stations that we have at home.
Here is another example of a monumental 'shrine' that we used to walk past each day on our back street journey into town.  They are always very ornate, full of colour and vitality.  There is always food and drink left here at these sacred places for the spirits that visit them.  I find them all very beautiful and am in awe at how spiritual the Thai people are.  I always treated these places with respect and admired them.
So on this day, being very excited that I had my own 'Phuket kitchen', we visited the local fresh fruit and vegetable market.  I wanted to shop with the locals and try my hand at buying real fresh fruit and vegetables, Thai style.  My plan was then to cook it in my kitchen.  I love vegetables and cooking and even on holidays, I was keen to try this for something different, for another experience.
I was in heaven.  The quality and freshness of the local produce was amazing.  I didn't barter much at this market and paid the prices that were given to me as it was so very inexpensive.  I'm sure the stall holders saw me coming and added a bit on top of the price, but I didn't mind, I was in Thailand, shopping with the local people, buying local produce, using a different currency and trying my best to make good choices.  It was great fun and I loved this.
There was an enormous array of fruit as you can see here.  It was fresh and looked so tempting.  It was a busy market, selling lots of good, healthy food.
Here is what I brought home that day from the market, plenty of Asian greens, a pineapple and mango.  It was all crisp and tasty, the fruit was unbelievably sweet.  I had loads of fun cooking this and enjoying the tastes and textures.
I'm not sure what this building is, but it is just outside the market and I had to take a photo of it as we walked back to the hotel.  The colours and detail of this building were so vibrant and a classic example of how the Thai people value beauty in their design.
Walking back to the hotel along the back streets, gave us a chance to admire some of the houses in Phuket.  You don't see anything like this at home and the buildings were usually brightly painted in bold colours, always with a few scooters parked out the front.  Here in this picture is an example of quite a large home by Phuket standards, many people lived in apartments.
I enjoyed looking at how people lived here in Phuket and liked the look of this home. Again, it was nothing like my neighbourhood, no front garden and not a lot of space, but very charming just the same.
Our hotel was at the end of this street at the top of the hill.  We would walk along this road many times, often carrying our shopping.  It was always so very hot and by the time we got back to the hotel, we would be completely wet from perspiration, from top to bottom.  David would cool down with the air conditioning and I would jump straight into the pool.  It was always fascinating to see the world from this perspective, with so many unusual and foreign aspects to it.  Everything about Phuket was so special, the food, the people, the shops, the climate, the sun, the architecture, the culture.......I loved every minute of it.
So it's the end of our second day and we are pretty happy.  Here I am 'all dressed up for dinner' LOL, standard Phuket attire, summer dress and thongs!  I'm pretty pleased with myself at this point, so happy that it is very hot at night.  We would sit on this balcony and have a couple of drinks and then go for a walk and find somewhere to have dinner. There was always something happening, somewhere to go as everything stays open late. It was wild, it was hot, it was noisy, there was always plenty of hustle and bustle as soon as you set foot outside the hotel.  Yes, it was terrific Thailand and we were in our element.

Join me again soon for the next chapter of 'Terrific Thailand 2015' when I will take you to some of Phuket's most beautiful locations :) xxx

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Live a Little, Love a Lot- The Exhibition

Hello dear blog. I have not had this much fun for a long time!!  I have been wanting to sit for a minute and write to tell you all about my latest venture and it is not until now that I have managed to do so. I am back into living and loving my art and it feels wonderful. From Friday 13th February to Thursday 5th March, I am having a little exhibition of my paintings........and guess what I have called the exhibition?  'Live a Little, Love a Lot', of course! 

The exhibition is at a local cafe and will be made up of 8 paintings that I done over the years and kept in my home as part of my private collection. I am excited, to say the least!  But the best part about all of this, is that I am motivated again to follow one of my greatest passions and that is to get back into creating art for art's sake.  Whatever comes of this seems almost irrelevant at this point, for even getting back into this mind set is an achievement in the hectic world that I live in.

I could not possibly have this exhibition, with the same title as this, my first, beloved blog, without writing a post, now could I? So, here goes.  I have met a friend of a friend who has helped me put this together and without his help and support, none of this would be possible. I am truly grateful for his encouragement.  One of the things he has done for me is publish a Media Release.  Here it is..........

MEDIA RELEASE - Melbourne February  8th 2015

Media Contacts: John Lawrence , HEtA Ph:  0408 096 447 /
For Immediate Release
‘Live a Little, Love a Lot’
An exhibition of contemporary 
‘naïve expressionist’ art
by Laura Allwood at Nosh@Newport
13th February –5th March 2015
                                Opening Event: Friday 13 February, 6.30pm. All welcome!

In this exhibition, ‘Live a Little, Love a Lot’, Laura has selected a variety of pieces that showcase the intensity and variety of her work that spans many years.  Laura has had a passion for art since a young age.  After studying art theory and design at secondary school, and visual arts in her Bachelor of Arts Degree (Monash University), she has pursued her interest in creating striking, vibrant and colourful works that capture and celebrate the beauty of the world around her.

The exhibition depicts Laura’s positive, outgoing and bright outlook in all that she undertakes.  With a bold use of colour and texture, Laura expresses her thoughts and feelings about living and loving.  She believes intensely that life and love are all around her and paints powerful images that reflect this.

Laura has been influenced by a wide range of twentieth century art movements – from German Expressionism and Surrealism to Primitivism and Naïve Art.  She has integrated these traditions however into a compelling personal style, reflecting her infectiously exuberant personality, positive outlook and outgoing nature.

The main mediums in this exhibition are oils on canvas, with a small use of acrylics and other materials, such as paper mache, to create a 3D effect.  All pieces on display catch the eye, with bold and diverse painting techniques that are a shear joy to view.  Her subject matters include dance, nature, intimacy, identity and of course, the power of love.

Laura is also active in the local community with volunteer work, a busy mother of 3, adores the great outdoors and is a keen writer.  This is Laura’s fourth exhibition. All works are for sale in original format or as quality A4 personally signed and framed prints.

Interviews with this dynamic local artist can be arranged for longer feature stories. 
Proudly Presented by:

There you go, exciting stuff, huh?  Here are the pieces I will have in the exhibition..........

‘Pregnant’ 2003

Oils on Canvas

I wanted here to portray the female body during pregnancy while also symbolising conception.

‘Pineapple’ 1995

Oils and Acrylics on Canvas with paper mache 

I created this work as an experiment with paper mache to create 3D effects. To me, the sharp points and textured forms that emerged suggested  a tropical pineapple.

‘Happy Hearts’ 2003

Oils on Canvas 

Here I wanted to communicate symbolically my 3 children and my love of motherhood.

‘Dancing Daisies’ 1994

Oils and Acrylics on Canvas 

In this painting I sought to represent unity, intimacy and happiness, expressing my love of nature  and the beauty of bonding between lovers.

‘Excitement’ 2004

Oils on Canvas 

This is my attempt to depict my experience of joy and pleasure, highlighting the positive feeling of being excited through an explosion of colour and form.

‘The Lightning Child’ 2003

Oils on Canvas 

Here is my self portrait, showing how I see key aspects of myself – a vivacious nature, an ‘electric’ personality and happy temperament.

‘Chit Chat’ 1999

Oils on Canvas 

In this image I have investigated the complex character of our social contacts, our friendships and the ‘many faces’ we experience in our daily lives.

 ‘Who am I?’ 2001

Oils on Canvas 

I continue to ask the  perennial question and in this image seek to convey my  identity and particularly my  artistic persona.

These photos don't really do my work justice and some of these photos are only a snap shot of the whole painting.  But you get the idea.  I have several other paintings that will not be on display and I am working on a new piece too.

So it's all go, go, go!  If you live in Melbourne, come and see me this Friday night from 6:30pm at 24 Hall Street, Newport 3015 and / or feel free to drop into Nosh over the next 4 weeks and see my art in person.

Until next time, may your garden grow green, your heart be happy and you remember to always walk on the sunny side of the street :) xxx