Saturday, July 16, 2011

Half way there.

Our time in Ballarat drew to a bitter-sweet end yesterday. The class was terrific, such a remarkable group of women, so talented, playful, funny, and warm. We grew to love each of the ten of them, and know we will see them again someday. There were closing festivities in the frosty dining hall, and then we packed our bags and said a happy farewell to the dreary boarding school life we have been living. Loved the people, did not love the facilities!

Daniella got people folding boats wherever we went. These lovely ones were made by the marvelous Margaret from Bruny Island, off the coast of Tasmania. Her husband is a boat lover, so she made a big series of boats.
The photo below shows some of the finished student work on the last day of class.

We met a woman named Linda who has become a big fan of Daniella's by watching her DVD. She was vibrant, smart, and sassy and she offered to take us on an excursion yesterday, which we were thrilled to accept. It turns out, she is a terrific artist and a delightful person. She picked us up yesterday morning and first drove us to a town called Daylesford, a delightful spa town in the hills north of Melbourne. We visited a convent on a hilltop that has been converted into an art gallery/cafe/shop, a gorgeous renovation of a beautiful old building.

Here is Linda at the beautiful spa resort in Daylesford.

The sign at the entrance to the converted convent cafe, Bad Habits!

The view from the top of the convent, looking out over the countryside.

A typical Australian house from the gold-rush era. We have seen hundreds that look like this, with the elaborate cast-iron gingerbread trim.

Next Linda took us to Castlemaine, another lovely small town, where a gallery had an exhibit of her stunning assemblage pieces. Wow, she is so talented!

Finally we drove through spectacular countryside to her home, where we were treated to a fabulous lunch and tour of the home and surroundings. We met Peter and Lloyd, her husband and house mate, and had a delightful afternoon with them all. Weather was perfect, for a change, and we relaxed and soaked in the kindness and hospitality.

Finally Linda drove us back to Melbourne, a nearly 2 hour drive, and dropped us at Hotel Victoria once again. Very soon after we checked in, our friends Bernie and Sue provided valet service from our hotel to their place in Fairfield, where they had cooked us a totally divine meal: champagne, Turkish soup and bread, osso bucco with gremolata, mashed sweet and white potatoes, and many steamed vegetables, all served with their usual blend of spicy and stimulating conversation and laughter. We are truly the founding members of the lucky girls society, and blessed with these rich friendships we are making over here. We LOVE Australia and these wonderful people!

Location:Melbourne, AU

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