Beautiful Birds of Eden

DSCN5591I think Birds of Eden might be what heaven is like. Or if we get to choose our own heavens, Birds of Eden would be mine. If you like bird sanctuaries, this one will ruin all other sanctuaries for you for life, because it is magnificent. In fact, it is the largest free-flying aviary in the world, and being inside of it feels a little bit like magic.

I love birds. I don’t really know why. It’s not like I had an exceptional cockatiel as a kid and have never recovered from it. In fact I actually don’t like cockatiels so much. How did the segue into cockatiels… My apologies. Moving on…

Oh yes now I know why it segued into cockatiels: because what on earth could I possibly say about Birds of Eden that would properly express how I feel about the place. Very little probably. Or at least very little that wouldn’t have me coming off as a gushy poodle of some sort.

It truly is a wonderful place though. There’s something so special about ambling through the trees along the boardwalk and pointing out each new birdy discovery with your spouse and children. I imagine going alone would be satisfying in itself, but sharing it with my favourite people, ticking off each bird species in the bird booklet as we spot it, getting excited together at the magical shots we’ve caught with our cameras, and grunting in disappointment at the shots we’ve missed, always proves to be an especially good way to spend some time together.

I wish I could build a tiny little cottage at the bottom of that valley, under all those beautiful birds, and just spend my days being surrounded by them. They’re noisy, no doubt, but at the same time they are somehow very peaceful.

And so very special…

My Instagram pics of Birds of Eden can be found here: #nayesexploresbirdsofeden

DSCN5534

The Hometown Tourist

imageI mentioned in one of my less controversial previous posts that on Freedom Day last week (It was last week, right?) my family and I went to an Instameet at the South End Museum, hosted by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. What I may have neglected to mention is that while I was at the museum, I realised that I know absolutely nothing about Port Elizabeth’s history. I grew up in Molteno, a small town about 400kms from here inbetween the mountains, and I vaguely remember learning a few things about coal and jewellery stores and artists and Dr. Lomax or something at school. I’m pretty sure that our education on our town’s history was solid, even if I don’t remember much of it. If I learned anything about Port Elizabeth during my years as a scholar I certainly can’t remember what it was. Now, I realise that I am the worst when it comes to history in general. I know nothing! My brain barely retains even the smallest of historical “facts”. But it seems a little sad that I know so little about the place I call home these days. Despite my hate for history at school, as a traveller I love learning about the places I visit as told by friendly tour guides and visitors’ booklets (why is it that as an adult learning is so much easier to love and yet so much harder to do?) and just from general ambling around new places. And so I thought to myself, I should probably make an effort to learn a few things about here, especially since here is where I spend most of my time.

And you see… This is why I kind of believe in the synchronicty that Julia Cameron speaks of in her books. As soon as you open yourself up to the idea of something, the Universe takes a step towards you and closes the gap. Yeah yeah, I know it’s a flighty sentiment, but damn folks, life is hard with spikes and double-edges swords.

What I didn’t know about the Instameet that we had at the museum included a hashtagged photo sharing competition to win a couple of Nelson Mandela Bay Passes. Of course I added the usual #sharethebay tag to my photographs because that’s what we were doing, and ended up winning myself two passes for my photograph entitled The Littlest Photographer. (more…)

On Instameetings

imageSo I need to stop starting blog posts with the word “so” but it’s really hard…so for this one I’m not going to. Instead I’m just going to get straight into it and tell you a bit about the new little piece of happiness that I accidentally found.

When we went to India earlier this year I admitted to my husband that as far as social media goes, Instagram is by far my favourite platform. A bit strange perhaps as I haven’t been Instagramming for that long, but for the short while that I have been, I’ve really been enjoying it.

You see, for me, Instagram seems to be this beautiful place of positivity. Every time I post a picture of my cat, the “likes” I get seem to say “Oh wow, I’m so happy for you that you’re having a happy moment with your cat!” and if I post a picture of something that has caught my eye, a flower perhaps, the likes seem to say “Oh wow, I’m so glad that for a moment in your day you stopped to observe and appreciate something beautiful”. If I’m travelling somewhere, the likes seem to say “oh wow I’m so happy that you’re doing what you love”, and if I post a picture of my child, the likes tell me “Yes, motherhood has so many wonderful moments”.

imagePerhaps this makes me silly. Perhaps this makes me a bit of an attention hog, or something negative, but I absolutely cannot help but feel that Instagram is this place where all the social media love goes. I do realise that is a bit of a lofty, airy-fairy ideal, but the thought of it makes me happy. And, the thing is, whenever I tap on that little heart, what  am really saying is “That’s lovely! I am so happy for you!”

Last week my friend Marion invited me to a Colours of You Instameet happening in the CBD which took place on Sunday. I admit I was a little intimidated because honestly I have always struggled to exercise any sort of creativity within a group. That coupled with the idea of trying to be creative with my three kids around me? Ha! You must be joking!! Creativity must be saved for when they are nowhere to be found. I haven’t learned to balance family life with art. Be creative? In public? Ha! I’ll just come along and watch.

imageWell, I found myself nestled between this group of beautiful people, all filled with art and beauty, and I have to admit this kind of thing can feel like a relief to people like me. What an incredible opportunity to mingle with all sorts of different people. I did spend a LOT of time making sure that my kid didn’t just dart off into the road and get run over by a car, but even though my momness was on full alert, my arty happy person got to peek out a little too. And it was glorious.

The best part: my kids loved it! Do you know how hard I have been trying to get these kids to lose themselves in creativity? I have no ide ahow to inspire it. I fail at this every single time I try! And yet there they were, just plodding along, photographing any old thing like it was nothing.

I don’t know how to say thank you for that.

imageToday we went on another Instameet. It was a different group of people this time, and while much of the vibe was a little different to the raw creative energy of the Colours of You meet, the positive effect remained the same. We met at the South End Museum – a place I have never actually wandered through before – and we got to mingle with each other while taking photographs and having a few laughs and giggles.

Some things are just good for your soul. I’ve been looking for something to replace the hole that dancing left in my life for the last eight years. It might be a little early, but I can’t help but think I might have found it.

Is that silly? I hope not…