Crossing the Nullarbor

Leaving Perth we start our necessary trek across the country. Whilst I have heard several folk whinge about the trip we actually find it a relaxing way to start our holiday. We chat about all the adventures ahead and reminisce about previous trips and where we have camped and stayed in the past, and will they be best for this trip. The crossing always has new experiences and we look forward to the everchanging scenery, depending of the time of year we travel.

On Day 1 we get as far a Coolgardie. Normally we would freedom camp all the way to South Australia but the 1 deg overnight temperature bought us into the Coolgardie Caravan Park so we could turn on the electric heater. After this stop we will be free camping for a few nights so just wanted one night with power and warmth.

Along the way you can’t help but be amazed at natures diversity. The Gimlet Gum’s impressive copper-coloured trunks and branches line the highway east of Southern Cross.

Travelling from Perth to Coolgardie the ever present Goldfields Pipeline follows the road east. Completed in 1903, C.Y.O’Connor’s dream to supply water to the fast growing communities of the Goldfields allowed the development of communities, mines, farms and businesses 530km east of Perth. From Murdaring Weir (near Perth) to the Goldfields the pipeline still today is the water lifeline to these area.

The highlight of the trip is to stop at the lookouts around Bunda Cliffs to take in the views of the Great Australia Bight. Always impressive.

And the treeless Nullarbor Plains is a unique feature.

We arrive in Ceduna and found the perfect place on the foreshore to have lunch.

And for the farmers I have included some photos of the South Australian crops on the highway toward Adelaide for you to compare with your own. Some crops in the north of the Eyre Peninsula are up and away while further east the dust is still flying.

We are near Adelaide now and going to the footy on Saturday to see WCE play Adelaide before heading north and making our way up to Uluru.

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Last Day in Tokyo

We have started our journey home…and have a 5 hour stopover in Kuala Lumpur from 4:30am to 9:30am. Yuck! But the good thing is that the wifi is okay so I have the opportunity to do the final Tokyo blog.

After checking out of the hotel we visited the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park.

The walk through the park was lovely but I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in Cherry Blossom season. The trees lining the walkway would be a sight.

These lovely lanterns lined the walkway.

The museum building sits behind the water fountain pond.

Our main reason for visiting the museum was to see the Kimono display. The Kimono are from the Edo period which is from the 1603 to 1868. Many of the Kimono’s were used in Noh theatre which was performed at official events during the period.

We had time to see a few other exhibits.

The end!

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Farewell Tokyo

Our time in Tokyo has been brilliant. We leave this evening, so are all packed. We will leave our luggage at the hotel while we spend the day at the National Museum.

It is very easy to get around on the subway and train system, the streets are clean and the people very friendly and helpful.

Our hotel, The b suidobashi, has served us well. It is only a small hotel in Bunkyo Prefecture but has good access to the subway and many restaurants and food outlets only 5 minutes stroll away.

The subway and trains are very easy to get around on….except for the many stairs to navigate.

Maureen and I have been walking so much that we have gotten quite skinny since we arrived….haha. Thats even after we have tried several sorts of Meiji chocolate, with a little something to wash it down with.

The streets are very clean, absolutely no rubbish on the footpaths, and there are lots of these smoking booths around so no-one is walking around smoking.

The toilets are an absolute dream in this very cold weather. They come with built-in seat warmers, deodorisers, bidets and some even play soft music if you wish to keep your business quite.

The food has been delicious and the beers cold.

And icecreams come in a fully enclosed cone….what a great idea!

We have been careful to pick our time to venture out so as to avoid the rush hours, but some places are still pretty busy during the day. Roads intersect over-top of each other, people are scurrying about and power lines are like black spaghetti hanging in the air.

It has been a fabulous trip. The Tokyo Quilt Festival was well worth coming too and Maureen and I have really enjoyed our sightseeing and textile adventures. This glimpse of Japan has me looking at another trip to explore the rest of the country with Jim.

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Out and About Again in Tokyo

You really can’t come to Tokyo and not visit the iconic Shibuya Crossing. Not only was the view from Mag’s Park above the road impressive but crossing the street with the other pedestrians was fun. It is a very busy area and all the streets were bustling with people.

In the nearby Shibuya Hikarie building we found a wonderful display of handmade puppets used in traditional puppet animation.

In the alleyway a lovely lady was selling fruit and vegetables but her speciality seemed to be mushrooms.

We also visited a craft store called Blue & White. It was a small shop specialising in mostly traditional blue and white textiles, Indigo and Boro. Infortunatley no photos allowed.

On our way home we passed through LaQua and the light display was brilliant.

Final day tomorrow…it has gone so fast!

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Tokyo Quilt Festival – Day 4 & Nippori Textile Town

And now for the shopping experience!

Yesterday we visited the Nippori Textile Town, a street specialising in all things textile. Many shops selling mostly dressmaking fabrics, and or, heavier weight furnishing fabrics lined the streets, but the occasional shop had patchwork quality fabric. The two that we particularly liked were Pakira for its Liberty and the 5 storey Tomato store. Tomato was very busy, the 5th floor has the patchwork fabrics and the 4th floor the Japanese style fabrics and the toilet (with seat warmer of course).

Today we went back at the quilt festival to check out the market stalls.
We were asked not to take any photos. I suppose they wanted to protect their ideas and products, which I think is fair enough. So here is another overview of the size of the markets.

Instead I will show you our purchases. This is my fabric to keep me occupied for a while.

And now this is Maureen’s. Guess she wins!

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Tokyo Quilt Festival – Day 3

After our visit to the gardens this morning we had a rest and returned so the festival to see the final sections of quilts. We will have to return over the next couple of days to do the market stalls….we must need something!!

Here are the final quilts including the Best of Show Category’s. Again the lighting is not good, shadows from the stands etc make it difficult to photograph.

Grand Prix First Prize

Grand Prix Second Prize

Hand Making Award

Sewing Machine Making Award

We then returned to the category quilts to see the final three sections. Here are some of the quilts we saw.

Framed Quilt Category

3 Popular Quilters Arrive in Japan Category
Di Ford – Australia

Cecile Franconia – France

Tone Finnanger – Norway

New Quilts by Japanese Artists Category

And finally this quilt seemed to be the most popular quilt from the viewers. It has taken us 3 days to get the opportunity to photograph it. The quilt features 1500 individual ladies dressed in traditional kimonos. 60 across and 25 down. Each was perhaps 4 x 2 inches in size and colour graduated down the quilt.

I hope you have enjoyed the quilts, even if it is not your thing! We plan to get out and see some more of Tokyo now so hopefully the weather stays good.

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Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

It is said that Koishikawa Korakuen Garden was originally created in the early stage of the Edo period in 1629 by Mito Komen. It is built in the Kaiyu style of garden, which I think means that it has a path that encompasses a lake or pond. It has manmade hills surrounding the lake and is influenced by the Chinese style gardens. The 70,000 sqm garden was opened to the public in 1938.

Only a short walk from our accommodation, right near the Dome, we visited on this crisp morning in Tokyo.

Surrounded by tall buildings in this busy part of town, inside the garden walls you get a sense of peace and tranquility. Come for a stroll….

Trellises are heavy with Wisteria just waiting to spring into life.

The very fragrant yellow flowers of the Winter Sweet and the pink and white Plum blossoms were a lovely surprise.

I would love to have the opportunity to visit the gardens regularly to see how the change of seasons transforms the trees and flowers.

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Tokyo Quilt Festival – Day 2

Well, we really have seen some very special quilts today. Again the dome was crowded with eager shoppers and onlookers.

Here are some of the amazing quilts we saw today. It has been interesting to be inspired, even enthralled, by quilts not normally in our colour palette or design.

Unfortunately the light has not been kind to some of the quilts but you will be able to see the details on most of them.

Traditional Quilt Winners.
Most of the quilts have been hand stitched and hand quilted.
1st Place and detail photos

2nd and 3rd place

And just some of the other many quilts entered into this category.

Original Design Category:
1st, 2nd and 3rd place, followed by some of the other entrants in the category

And finally Yoko Saito has a display of some quilts and gorgeous little houses.

I think we may need a day of rest tomorrow!!

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Tokyo Quilt Festival – Day 1

With great excitement Maureen & I headed down to the Dome today to start our enjoyment of visiting the festival. And what a spectacle it is. We have decided to view all the quilt exhibits before we start on the retail outlets (good move, I think!). I would hazard a guess that there was 15,000 to 20,000 thousand visitors at the show today so waiting in line to get an opportunity to take photos was an act of patience. Whilst some of the quilts are not to my taste, the quality of workmanship is unquestionable, and the presentation of the quilts by the organisers very good.

The first of the exhibitions we saw is titled “Partnership Quilts”. The theme was inspired from a Yoko Saito pattern “Welcome to My House”. Japanese quilters were invited to make and send in a 15cm x 15cm block. The response was enormous; 10,142 blocks were received and made into 60 quilts, all of which are on display. After the festival the quilts will be raffled off for various charities. Here are just a few and some close up details for you to see.

The next exhibition is “Quilt Impressionism: An Encounter Between Quilting and Art”. Four of Japans leading quilters were invited to create quilts reflecting their interpretation of their favourite impressionist.

Reiko Washizawa chose Monet to bring to life the gardens at Monet’s home in Giverny.

Akane Sakamoto chose the self portrait and flowers of van Gogh.

With the help of some of her students they also created this sunflower garden. The detail in the flower heads were stunning.

Yoko Ueda’s depiction of the Renoir women was translated into photo quilts.

Kathy Nakajima chose Gauguin’s travels to Tahiti as her inspiration.

And finally we saw the work of Suzuka Koseki. Suzuko’s quilts are colourful and invoke a sense of fun. Here are a few of her quilts and a couple of close up shots as well.

We have only seen three of the eight special exhibitions and none of the general entries, so still a lot to see over the coming days.

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More Tokyo Sights

We have had another wonderful day exploring Tokyo. It was much colder today as the wind is still blowing making it feel very much colder than the 8-9 deg it was.

First stop was Senso-ji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo, said to have been built in 628.

It is surrounded by halls and pagoda and is a very popular attraction.

Here people can hire traditional Japanese costumes to be seen in. Or perhaps some of the girls own their own costumes.

We noticed the first signs of leaves and blossom on the trees.

Between Kaminarimon Gate and Hozomon Gate, Nakamise Street leads to the temple.

We then visited the nearby Amuze Musuem to see see its Boro Exhibtion. Boro is a particular type of Japanese textile that has been stitched together to mend or add additional layers to old and worn fabrics, particularly clothing and blankets.

At the end of the day we could not help ourselves – we just had to go to the Quilt Festival and have a look from the top of the stands – just to see what awaits us tomorrow. The Tokyo Dome, which is housing the festival, is large enough to hold baseball games undercover. This is what we saw! Really looking foward to getting down there tomorrow to start exploring.

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Tokyo Sightseeing

Our first day has been such a lovely experience. The people are very helpful and polite, the subway easy to navigate, the sights a contrast of old and new, and the food excellent.

We took the subway to pick up the Sky Hop sightseeing bus and did the loops to get a feel for the city. Although very chilly (8-10 deg with wind) on the upper deck of the bus we zipped up our jackets, used the blankets provided for our knees and enjoyed the sights. Here are some photos of the scenes and diversity of buildings in Tokyo.

From Floor 350 of the Tokyo Skytree the views of the city were vast. Although not the clearest of days it was still a great chance to see the expanse of this very large city.

This lovely little garden was tucked in behind some tall buildings.

Our choice of food was delightful. Noodles (with some unknown ingredients), Tempura Prawn and Sweet Potato, and surprisingly the coffee here is very good. We won’t starve that’s for sure.

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We have arrived in Tokyo

Maureen and I have safely arrived in Tokyo to attend the Tokyo Quilt Festival and I can assure you we are very excited to be here. This photo was taken at the Perth Airport at about 1am Tuesday morning as we awaited our departure.


The Quilt Festival is at Tokyo City Dome in the Bunkyo Prefecture and our hotel is only a few hundred metres away. After settling into our rooms we took a quick walk to stretch our legs and check out the area. A fairly chilly 5 deg at the time but no wind so brisk but not freezing cold.

These photos are around the Dome this evening. More to come over the coming week of the quilt festival and our other outings.

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We’re in Heaven!

We are spending a couple of nights up at Casa Debbio, Deb & Jim’s mountain holiday house in Italy and let me tell you we are in heaven.

Since we were here last the garden has progressed beautifully….and the views are just as we remember.

The last of the summer flowers are just hanging on.

The chestnut trees are shedding their nuts.

The walnuts are almost done.

The persimmon won’t be too far away from picking.

The pomegranate are ripening well.

And the kiwi fruit are looking great.

How could you ever tire of this view?

If you are coming to Italy and would like a relaxing holiday or you enjoy hiking this is the place to stay.

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We are back in Italy

What a joy it is to be back in Italy after 5 years to visit Deb and our other friends.
Ponte a Serraglio is still as lovely as ever.

It has been so nice to spend time with Deb and catch up with Cherry and Aldo.

Of course the food has been fabulous. Nothing is better than fresh Italian pasta.

Actually, it is all delicious!

We decided on a trip over to Pietrasanta for the Medieval Festival. We arrived early to see these art pieces which have been installed in the piazza.

In the late afternoon the crowd gathered and the festival began. Dancers and jousters put on their displays but the flag throwers were the highlight. They band announced their entrance – the flag throwers are very skilled – it must take a lot of practice!

We still have 3 more days here so you will see more soon.

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What a busy time we have had in London.

Our hotel overlooked Kensington Gardens.

We toured the city on the Hop On Hop Off bus.