COOTS Challenge

Our COOTS (Central Otago Outside the Square) challenge for this year was ‘Inpsired by ….’. We had to choose a favourite artist and create a piece of work that was inspired by the chosen artist, not a copy of their work but showing their influence in our work. The completed piece was to measure 40cm wide and 1 metre long.

Amanda’s pieces inspired by Van Gogh

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Alison inspired by Picasso


Anne inspired by Pat Hodson, this piece is made from three layers of ‘tea-bag’ paper and is very ethereal, looks great with light coming from behind it.

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Angela inspired by Sandra Meech based her felted piece on photos from time spent in Orkney.

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Jeanette was inspired by Hundertwasser

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Jenny Greer by Fritz Busse

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Jenny Tayler by David Hockney (we can all see why, they share a passion for vibrant colours)

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Pamela inspired by Julia Watkins flowing shapes

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And my piece inspired by the paintings of Lyonel Feininger, the buildings that form the basis of this piece are from a photograph I took in Bath, England last year. I used Feininger’s chimney pot shapes for the ‘people’ in the foreground, using my graffiti fabric – with a nod to my mark making body of work.

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Today we were up early once again and driving to Squamish. It is about 40 mins out of Vancouver. An old mining town, because the sightseeing gondola was closed we decided to go to the Mining Museum. We had a guided tour into the mine (our own private one as it is the off-season) it was fascinating to learn about the huge copper mine, it had over 200 kms of tunnels, most closed off now and filled with water.

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The picture below is called ‘The Chief’ it is a huge granite mountain, seriously the photos do not do it justice it is massive and pretty much straight up. There is a track you can climb it and some people base jump off it.



We met up with Jordy and Kim (Pat works with Jordy) and they live in Squamish. They showed us around a little bit, took us to the water’s edge, its like a fiord, beautiful place, surrounded by tree-covered mountains that rise straight out of the water. They also took us to a kind-of dam we stood on it and then walked down a track and looked at it from below, the photos don’t show how high it was.


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They then told us how to get to Shannon Falls as it was on our way back to Vancouver. The falls were massive and really loud, once again the photos don’t do it justice.


Once again Pat’s expert driving got us back to the city, Hayley and Pat reluctantly dropped off the rental car and Hayley and I had a wander around in the city, they are just starting to set up for Christmas, it will be a beautiful show once all the shops etc are all decorated.

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We then headed down to Canada Place, on the waterfront and had bubbles outside at the Bellagio mmmmm yum. They have Italian Prosecco at every restaurant you go to, I could totally get used to this.

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For dinner we went back to the Granville Island where the markets are and had a beautiful seafood dinner at the Sandbar, we had the best seats right in the window overlooking the water.

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Here’s Hayley and I with the required gumboots and umbrellas – dining out at a beautiful restaurant…… only in Vancouver!! Hayley with her ‘Tea’ advent calendar getting ready for 1 December.


Have had a fantastic whirlwind time with these two, need to go home for a rest ha! Will miss them and it was a pleasure spending time with them both, showing me around their beautiful city. xox

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

This is our cabin at Nanoose Bay.


This morning we got up and Pat and Hayley went for a bush walk, it involved ropes, so I opted to stay at the cabin and clean up etc!! Then we drove into Nanaimo.

Oh an observation on this part of the world, everyone drives around in massive pick-up trucks or SUV’s, they are huge, they make our Toyota Hiluxes and similar vehicles look like toys, seriously there are thousands of massive trucks here and they are normal!!

Anyway, look what we saw! Cabelas, oh my goodness this is Hunting and Fishing on mega steroids. We were talking to one of the salesmen and he said the shops in the USA are huge, they have casting tanks so you can try out your lures in the water, rifle ranges etc. had a great look around it was an ‘activity’, not shopping, could have spent ages there, like a kid in a candy shop. Here’s some pictures for Dad and Pat Paulin, ha!!

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Then back on the ferry, this time we took a different ferry and it docked at Horseshoe Bay, just on dark, thank goodness Pat knew where we were going as it was peak hour traffic, he did a great job to get us home. And just to prove that the sun does come out in Vancouver, some pictures from the ferry.




Vancouver Island

Got up at 6am this morning and headed to the Ferry, took the car on, it was a 7 level ferry and a lot nicer than the old Cook Straight ones. It rained hard all day today. Got off the Ferry at Victoria and had lunch. Pat had a Ceasar (a bit like a bloody Mary), a national drink here he also had Pontine (also a national dish here, made from hand cut potatoes, with cheese and miso gravy)


We then went to one of the top 10 book shops in the world, it was really cool and had quilts hanging on the walls yay!

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Then we went to the bug zoo. So funny, the ant colony was amazing. Pat got to hold Aurora the pink tarantula. Hayley held a Stick thing.


We then headed to Nanaimo a couple of hours away. Had dinner there and the maitre d was a kiwi. it was raining hard and the road was really covered with water and visibility was dodgy, Pat did a great job driving. We are staying at a cute little cabin the woods through Air BnB.

Wow an action packed day

Yesterday Hayley and I bused and trained out to a suburb to a large shopping mall and had a good look around in the relatively calm surroundings of a shopping mall. Good to have a look around without the hassle of traffic and lots of people. Went back into town to a hotel liquidation place to look at bed linen etc.

Last night we went to Kooza the Cirque du Soleil show. It was incredible. The show was action-packed and edge-of-your-seat acrobatics. Some times I wasn’t sure I could watch.

This is the outside of the tent and foyer area.

When we emerged from the show, in typical Vancouver fashion it was HOSING down, so much rain. Of course we didn’t take an umbrella and the puffer jacket was not waterproof!!. Couldn’t do much but laugh about it. We ran a couple of blocks to some shelter and ordered a taxi, it took a while, but we eventually got home wet and dishevelled.

Today we hired a car, Pat was so excited to be driving. Together with Hayley and Pat’s flatmate, a lovely little Irish girl called Fiona, we heading up into the mountains. First stop was the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park a totally amazing park that has treetop walks and a huge suspension bridge, and catilevered cliff walk. We were really blown away by the whole way it was constructed, very sturdy, done tastefully and was totally beautiful.


  After that we headed up to Grouse Mountain.  It is a ski-field, but has lots going on during the summer as well. The gondola made ours look like dinky toys. We had lunch there and wandered around, it was -1 degrees as they obviously had snow at the time last night when we were getting the torrential rain! We saw one of the two bears there and the wolf. The bear came out especially to see us and headed straight back in, we were so lucky that he chose that time to come out for a look. It looks like a fun winter mountain and so close to the city is pretty cool, they have night skiing here till around 11pm. Hayley and Pat can’t wait to get started with the season.


 We then drove to deep cove, this little village reminded us especially of Akaroa and little bit like Picton.   
Headed home to go out to dinner to the ‘Dine in the Dark’ restaurant. A restaurant where you arrive, sit outside, choose your meal options and drinks. I chose ‘surprise me’ for entree, main and dessert.  To get into the restaurant you stepped inside the door to a very small foyer that had a dull red light, your blind waiter asked you to form a train and he guided us to our tables. Oh my goodness!! it was a surreal experience, um it was totally dark, I mean you could not see a thing. I could totally understand if someone had a panic attack in there, we found it hilariously funny (nervous hysteria) it was a fun experience and made us very appreciation of having our sight. I don’t totally know what my meal was but I think it was some kind of mediterranean entree, like brushetta, the main was a rissotto with a meaty kind of fish and some veges and the dessert was a kind of cheesecake tart.

An action packed day. Packing my bag now for a couple of days on Vancouver Island.

Great day to be out and about

The sun was shining it was a beautiful day and I got to see the mountains around Vancouver.

We started off today by having our morning coffee at Pat’s favourite cafe. 
In Hayley’s neighbourhood we have seen two of these, both different, they have books in them that you can take books from and put books into for anyone to use.

We went to Michaels which is an upmarket craft supply store it’s huge, then we went to Indigo which is a large book store. Came back to Hayley’s neighbourhood and had a beautiful fresh salad lunch, looked around some shops, got supplies in to cook her flat mates dinner yum. A great night.

 This was a block of cheese!! It was huge just the right size to fit on crackers.

Vancouver is a beautiful city, very clean and lots of trees. Walked through a lovely community garden today.

Yay it’s stopped raining

Today it was overcast but not too cold. Here are some pics of Hayley’s neighbourhood. This is her house.  

This is the house I’m staying in.  I’m on the top floor.  

We walked down to the waterfront and walked around the sea wall to Granville Island, it’s a kind of market. Everyone here has dogs, they are all out walking, Hayley said they take them to work in offices and people take them into shops, they are well behaved and I haven’t noticed any poo anywhere. We had a beautiful lunch there and then got a small boat (it holds about 12 people) so cute, over to the other side of the river and walked into the shopping district.

We looked into a couple of shops and then went to Victoria’s Secret. It was huge and we were in there for ages. It was 5pm when we came out and it was dark. Time to go home!!


Essentials for visiting Vancouver…

Gumboots and an umbrella!  This purchase is not what I envisaged shopping for here!

I typed a huge post but have lost it in the ether somewhere, so here goes:

The essential items for visiting Vancouver are ….

Gum boots and an umbrella. Seriously especially at this time of the year when the leaves are blocking the drains and its continuously raining the footpaths are rivers ha!   Had a lovely flight in premium economy, big seats, big pillows, lots of leg room, champagne and three course meals yum. Even managed a few hours sleep which I don’t normally do.

Lovely to have Hayley meet me at the airport. We trained and bused to my lovely wee apartment which is a few doors down from hers.   

 Went a organic food cafe for lunch and mooches around the shops near her house, a lovely area of the city with tree-lined streets and beautiful homes. The houses here are large and quite lovely – very different from ours.

I will try and get some photos if it stops raining, it’s hard juggling an umbrella and a camera.  

We had afternoon tea in a lovely tea cafe, very zen. Then off to get Pat and head out to cocktails and dinner in Gastown, a beautiful old part of the city. 

 Had brekky this morning with two of Hayley’s friends (a kiwi and an Aussie) very yummy. This area (Kitsilano) is into whole foods, organic supermarket etc so great.

We went to the art gallery this afternoon and saw some amazing and not so amazing art lol.

Home for a wee sit down and then down to a local restaurant for dinner tonight.