Beykoz glass Factory, Istanbul

Glass bead making in Cam Ocağı Vakfı (Glass Factory Foundation)

There is always something interesting to photograph in Istanbul. This week, our photography club visited the Bekoz Glass Furnace. This is an international glass center in the Black Sea Region, to the north of Istanbul on the Asian side. Originally formed as a studio for local artists, the Beykoz Glass Furnace has become an international learning center, and a meeting place for glass artists from all over the world. Here, students can learn various glass techniques in the many workshops. while visitors can watch glass production, and shop for hand-made pieces.

There was a fascinating display of glass art for us to photograph...

...with beautiful patterns

...and delicately made pieces

We saw the tools of the glass maker...

...and watched as glass was shaped

...and blown

We also looked into the workrooms where students practice making glass beads...

...like these beads

I found some of the finished textures quite beautiful...

...as well as some of the finished articles

This was a very successful expedition, and I am looking forward to next week's visit to the charcoal makers of Istanbul. We are so lucky to be living in this fascinating city!


A Beautiful Italian Wedding

Clare and Reg, the happy couple.

Together with their beautiful bridesmaids, Carlotta and Jessica

Best Man, Bridesmaids and Page Boy

After a 24 hour turn around, in between arriving from Australia and flying to Italy, I was delighted to attend the wedding celebrations of our daughter, Clare. Festivities kicked off with a dinner for guests on the Friday evening, followed by the wedding on the Saturday.

All the guests were invited to dine at a nearby restaurant on the Friday night.

We were thrilled to see Bettina, a friend of Clare's from the time they were 15 years old, living in Spain.

The nuptials were to take place at the Laguna Blu Restaurant, on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Reno, Leggiuno. To give the restaurant time to recover from their lunch time clientele, all the wedding guests packed into two ferry boats and crossed the lake to Isola Pescatore, the Fisherman's Island in the lake. There we commandeered a restaurant, and enjoyed a drink or two as we chatted, and caught up with news of friends and family.

The wedding party sailed off to Isola Pescatore.

Reg's Dad, and Cathy, flew in all the way from Australia...

...as did his sister, Lee-Anne; while his brother, Steven, flew in from the States.

On Isola di Pescatore, we caught up with friends and family

Once back at the restaurant, the ceremony began, with Giuliano as the official celebrant.

Coughlan Girls

The Lads

Important People! Bernard, Margy, David and me.

As we sat down to eat, Jessica played the flute for us.

The meal was perfect, as dish after dish was brought to the table. We love Laguna Blu, everything about it is wonderful, the food, the service, the decorations! No wonder it is usually fully booked!

First dance!!!

Karaoke was really popular. That's Reg's Dad in the middle!

Even Hugo, Jessica and Emma, were brave enough to join in!

All too soon came the cutting of the cake... 

...and the end of a perfect wedding, as the happy couple serenaded the guests!


Stroud, NSW, Australia

A view of Stroud from Silo Hill

Nestling in the heart of the Karuah Valley, Stroud is one of the nearest small towns to Suzi and Neil's home. It is an historic settlement, part of the original land grant made to the Australian Agricultural Company (AAco) in 1826. Robert Dawson, the company's first superintendent, named the settlement after Stroud in Gloucestershire, England, as the lush rolling hills reminded him of the Gloucestershire countryside.

Stroud has an old world charm, as many of the original convict-built buildings have been preserved. Yes, this was a place where British convicts were sent to the penal colony to work. Thanks to the Stroud & District Historical Society Inc, much of the history of this town has been documented, and old buildings preserved. I popped into the newsagent's to get a copy of the Stroud Heritage Walk, that lists all the places of interest, before setting off to explore.

The Stroud Court House, dating from 1877, replaced the original 
Police Station/Court House (circa 1840). It ceased being a court house in 1974.

The Anglican Rectory - built by convict labour in 1836

St John's Anglican Church, dating from 1833, also built by convicts using locally made bricks.

Quambi House, formally a school, built in the 1830s, and now a museum of local artifacts

Stroud School of Arts, where Katelyn goes for her ballet and tap classes

One of the two cannons on Silo Hill

These cannons were made in England, and shipped to Sydney  in 1866 to help protect the harbour during the Crimean War. When the war ended, they were sent to Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, but by 1909 they were obsolete, and sent to Stroud to decorate Silo Hill.

Stroud Post Office, originally built in 1884, was restored for its centenary in 1984. 
It is said to be one of the best examples of an early Australian post office 
in the whole of the Hunter Region.

Stroud remains a fascinating snapshot of early Australia. I was intrigued, and charmed, by this small rural town, buried in the countryside.


Birthday Party in Moonan Flat

We travelled over the mountain to Moonan Flats for our friend Mandy's special birthday. The road over the pass was in bad condition, so we had to bump slowly along, trying to avoid the potholes. Eventually we arrived at the Victoria Hotel, where a surprise party had been arranged.

Mandy, centre, was surprised as people gradually arrived at, 
what she thought was, a quiet family lunch

Mandy's mother, sisters and brother-in-law

People gathered on the back terrace of the Victoria Hotel

Guests entering into the festive spirit

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed catching up with old friends.

I love the old-world feel of the pub

It definitely has that country feel!

We were shocked to see how very dry the Upper Hunter Valley was. Not a blade of green grass to be seen. We drove past dry and dusty pastures, and creeks reduced to a trickle, or even just piles of dry rocks. In places, the once "Mighty Hunter River" had become a series of muddy puddles. The farmers here were desperate for rain.

Fortunately, since our visit, the rains have arrived and the pastures are becoming green again. Maybe, when the land fully recovers, the farmers will be able to survive the dreadful effects of the drought, and recover their livelihoods.

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I couldn't resist this one!