Sunday, April 13, 2014

Merewether Autumn 2014

Hazel Contemplating
Bright Yellow Sign #1
Bright Yellow Sign #2
Bright Yellow Sign #3
Distinctive home overlooking Merewether Baths.

The Toddler's Pool, Merewether Baths 2014
Pumphouse Merewether Baths 2014

Outflow Merewether Baths 2014
Under Repair Merewether Baths 2014

Toddler's Pool, Merewether Baths 2014
Only two made it out the back, Merewether Beach.

Wall Art, Merewether Subway



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Handmade Artisans

I've started a new project these last few months, and it is entirely in keeping with the handmade local and artisan niche we have been cultivating here at Merewether Life.  It's a brilliant lifestyle, working with people who are following their passion and making a difference in their own communities and actually getting to meet the stallholders in their element. 

I've had some good times travelling around markets in New South Wales and meeting the people behind the brands and having them reveal the story that is behind their successful markets stall.
Here's an excerpt from Find Handmade - an New Australian feature designed to inspire and promote those working handmade artisans but also others who are considering taking the leap into starting their own business.

Here's just a glimpse of what I have learned by talking with literally dozens of stallholders selling their handmade wares at the markets.
I meet handmade artisans every week and we get talking about what they are up to and where they want to be.
And every now and then, a stallholder will tell me she doesn’t want to know anything about growing her digital profile or being more effective at selling online.
And I can see where she is coming from – who wants to climb the online digital mountain when you’ve already come so far? |
You’ve moved away from your boring career job, you’ve got a loyal core of customers, and you are managing the practicalities of producing handmade – now I have to do the whole online thing?
The key moment I am working with some stallholders is when they choose to make the step into online sales and turn their hobby into a thriving online business.  If you would like assistance or help following this path, you can read more here.

Read feature interviews with 
inspiring individuals who work as 
#handmade #artisans.

Toby and Rosie



Here's an excerpt from the interview with two Sydney based markets stallholders...
Toby, proudly calling himself a hippie at heart, initially made a body butter and as is often the case – it was soon sought out by family and friends and before long he was making larger batch sizes to meet demand.  Combining this with a love of natural, authentic ingredients and Toby and Rosie was born – not before meeting Rosie in her native Guatemala and launching back in Sydney.
For inspired skincare and cosmetics with a natural organic flair, head over to Toby and Rosie.


Charlie Middleton Leather Bags

Charlie Middleton is a successful brand of handmade artisan leather goods...
Like many others I meet at find handmade, Ben’s journey to his current position began in a different niche.    And again, his journey to being a successful stallholder began with a humble start up selling handmade t-shirts, hoodies and jackets.  All handmade, with handmade printing.  Then, a chance exposure to a three hour leather working course turned Ben’s attention to leather – and he began producing hard wearing belts for friends and more as word spread.
Charlie Middleton is an international brand with a solid reputation based on Ben's attention to detail and committed work ethic - you can read the full story here.

Milly Molly Mandy


Milly Molly Mandy is a delightful concept impeccably managed by handmade artisan Shannon who finds the time to balance her work with a pretty full family lifestyle.
The products at Milly Molly Mandy are all designed, cut and handmade by Shannon and you can sense the real innocence in the eyes of the soft toys – something that engages with customers instantly. The stall layout is relaxed and inviting, with soft tones and products displayed like they are arranged in a child’s bedroom.  I could feel the quality of the fabric and the balance of the stuffing – and it is no accident that these toys are sold as heirloom quality.
You can read all about Milly Molly Mandy and how Shannon has built for herself a niche with wide online exposure in find hand made.

I will be posting regular updates as things evolve and would love to have you along for the ride!  Good luck and see you next time!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Seven Things to Love about Byron Bay

If you said that I would do five mornings in a row of 6am Yoga class - even a few weeks ago - I would have laughed and said really?  But there I was, up with the birds, quietly pacing the streets of Byron Bay and submitting to a ninety minute yoga class. 

Rainbow Anklet Byron Bay
Hazel bought this anklet and both girls got a single hair braid
with $20 Isla found blowing along the path like a tumbleweed. 
The sand crystals are very fine and almost like dust.

I've spent weeks in Byron Bay in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2002, and 2014.  So you can appreciate how things have changed a little since I was last up this way.  I feel like some sort of local visitor - if that is a word?  And that lovable ratbag element is still there, and the quiet confidence of the alternative lifestyle has not diminished.  Even though property prices and holiday rentals have increased in value.
Byron Bay Map
Byron is the most Easterly point on the Australian mainland - so in theory when I was getting out of bed at 5.45am for my 6am yoga class I was actually getting up at 5.44.57 or something like that...

This was my first time in Byron Bay as a family man and entirely sober, so it was refreshing to appreciate the place without the hindrance of whatever and be able to fully participate in all that the place has to offer.

Seven Things to Love about Byron Bay
It is remarkable how quickly children pick things up - after just a few demonstrations Phoebe was finding her center with the Warrior Pose II - you can see how she was opening her hips and keeping her core balance.

1. No flies.  That's right.  No flies at all.  Anywhere.

"Over the shoulder"
2. No McDonalds.  A lot has been made of the move away from commercialism and keeping it real with sustainable and local products.  And you can actually feel it in the place.  So it works.  Even though there is an Aldi. And a Subway.  And a bloody Hog's Breath.

This guy sells pecans at the markets.  Easy to talk to, honest
and would probably invite us round for lunch or something...
3. Femininity.  Not sure how to say this but the place has a definite feminine feel - not so much tough stickers (tattoos?) and top-heavy-chesty-gym-boys doddering around like they might over-balance and fall face-first any moment.  But it's just true - there are groups of young women and hipster guys without bulging biceps or meaningless "fashion"tattoos.  You gotta love that.

Dragon Fruit Byron Bay
They call them dragon fruit - and they have amazing white dalmation flesh inside.
4.  Village hustle and bustle.  The place has three main streets and they are always filled with cars moving through - and new people from all corners of the globe.  Other surf towns up the coast suffer from a kind of provincial ignorance that comes from too many bowling clubs and not enough foreigners making "requests" for non-local products.  This is a good thing - we have had enough chicken schnitzel and "mild" curry.  Yay for plenty of sushi and yoghurt!

Happy Hippy Bus Tour Byron Bay
Here's the Nimbin Bus - I went to Nimbin a few times and it was actually a bit numbing to see how wrinkly and sad the alternative dream gets as you mix poverty and desperation with chronic addiction and getting old...
5. No Bowling Clubs or RSL clubs in sight. 
For some reason - Byron is not dominated by poker machine subsidised schnitzels or bland Australianised "mild" Asian fare - and that's a refreshing change from the other stops up the coast.  It is amazing that something other than that has been able to flourish and thrive. 
When we talked about about "the tripod"
and beach modelling, Isla is simply a natural.
We love sushi and hot Mexican and vegie bakes with little seeds and stuff in it.  And we aren't big fans of lining up for top price meals from frowning staff at clubs. 
Fresh frozen?  not likely...
Asia Joes Restaurant Byron Bay
Hazel and Phoebe waiting for dinner at Asia Joes.

When it rained one afternoon the girls took out the rainbow umbrella
and we walked the streets barefoot.  Loving the dresses...
6. Walking everywhere.  The parking is a nightmare and parking officers walk around handing out fines everyday.  This deters a few more people from coming.  Byron might be a little bit too much work for a, like, holiday.
But if you can handle stepping away from your vehicle (we love how it's nice and shiny and all that..) - hey - you might even enjoy that feeling of fresh air in your lung-bits.

Gorgeous - both held it together like true travellers.
7. The People.  Byron people actually smile and walk slower - a girl behind us on the way to the bay one morning we overhead was talking about how much slower everyone walked - compared to New York.  And it's true, you just have to walk a bit slower in Byron.

Red Ginger Byron Bay
Red Ginger is a foodie shop with plenty to keep you interested - I bought a cast iron tea cup for $9.
Byron Bay Light House
Byron Bay lighthouse- each night we could see the light wink past our bedroom window.
We were all asleep by around nine.
Just popped this one in for the vista looking south
- you can see our the clouds pointing that way.
Oh, and THANK YOU I really appreciate your dropping by, we have 4786 visitors in Jan 2014.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trouble with Neighbours

This morning we were paid a visit by the Newcastle Local Council - Ray Brylynsky -and one of the members of his team.  Apparently my neighbour has called the General Manager of the Newcastle Council about a little wood platform I have at the rear of my backyard for my daughters.  After seven years all of a sudden it now has to go.  And this was a response within hours of the vexatious complaint being raised in the first place.

That's funny - things like this usually take weeks if not months to process - I wonder why this little matter was suddenly so important to be dealt with in hours and then by the two head honchos?

For sure we have built a little 8 x 4 foot platform in the reserve - it is a delightful little stage for the children to dance upon - but for Newcastle Council to send out two big head honchos within hours of receiving a complaint is quite unnerving.  I wonder who knows who - or who has a connection somewhere along the line.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses.  I have planted dozens of native plants and grasses throughout the reserve as a firebreak and animal shelters too.  I wonder if they have to go?
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