Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Through my writing and photography I seek to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.

I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.

I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.

If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab. Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".



Monday, 25 May 2015

Remembering Africa

The homework for my writing group this month was to retell a memorable meal.  In the process I was taken back to Africa, October 2002, Jackalberry Lodge in the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park, South Africa. 

So my blog for this week is a tiny part of my memories of our incredible "soft option" African experience. I feel so lucky to have had this experience and would recommend it to anyone who has the dollars. 

I only had a film camera those days, but oh my goodness I soon learnt to quickly change films rolls. I would love to go back now with my digital camera! 
This is a pic of me having morning tea on the morning game drive. I was a bit younger then. 

Eating Africa

The rhythms of Africa vibrate in the quiet stillness of the night. A line of soft lights lead us along the path to the boma where flickering flames send sparks up into the black ink sky. A splash of vibrant red lingers on the horizon.


A circle of tables sit half in the fire light and half in shadow. A wide smile greets us. 

We sink into the comfort of shared experiences as we listen to the retell of the afternoon’s safari drive. 

The memory of Ingwe, the elusive leopard. As we approached he had climbed to lay in the low fork of a tree, his green eyes staring at us, his spotted coat glistening in the late afternoon sunlight.  

Glasses clink. The table lamps are lit. 

A lion’s roar echoes from far across the veld.  A pair of civets partly hidden by the long grass lift their heads to gaze at us from the waterhole just beyond the fence. 

Ostrich kebabs and kudu steaks are on the menu tonight. The chef hovers over the coals of the Braai (bry) expertly turning the meat.  

I don’t remember the details of those meals, just the feeling of contentment wrapped up in the cloak a million stars across the African night. 

 We travelled to Africa and stayed at the Jackalberry Lodge at the Thornybush Game Reserve near Kruger National Park in September 2002. Our hosts Grant, Angie and Noleen gave us the most incredible experience we will never forget.  We were so amazingly lucky that a couple of the nights we were the only guests, and so we had private game drives and got to know our hosts very well.  And my eternal thanks to my friend Sarah Gaynor who was working in travel and booked this trip for us (this trip was how we met). It truly was one of the most memorable holidays of our life. 

Even though I would love to go back to Jackalberry, I don't think we could ever hope to replicate the visit that we had. Our expectations were exceeded beyond what we thought was possible. 

These impala were just outside the fence near our hut.

Below you can see pics of the lodge, our hut (top RH), and bottom LH the view from our bathroom window on our first morning.
The lodge has been upgraded since our visit (there's grass around the pool now!) - for more information please click here -  Jackalberry Lodge

I hope you have enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.  Thank you for indulging me. 
Do you have a memorable dinner? Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in the comments.
You can read more of our Africa experiences in Australian Vital magazine May 2004 and Australian Photography magazine - Back page November 2004. Or click on this link to go to my former blog post - including how we met this bull elephant who suddenly appeared from behind a thorn bush - African Experience - Soft Option

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.


 A reader has just asked me what lens I had. I "think" it was about a 200mm or maybe a 300mm (?). I've just added this image to show you how close we were....

That his Mario our tracker sitting on the front of the vehicle. 
At one stage we had a lion walk by so close that my husband said he could have just about reached out and touched it. 

The animals in this park are generally used to the vehicles as long as you don't stand up and change the shape of the vehicle. And getting out is a absolute no no. 
I might come back and add some more pics. Stay tuned.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday  
Travel Photo Mondays  
Our World Tuesday
  Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global  
Agent Mystery Case  
What's It Wednesday  
Travel Photo Thursday

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Pumpkin soup - autumn warmer

Inspired by the colour of the autumn leaves at the Balingup Golden Valley Tree Park last weekend.... (if you missed it you can click here - Autumn in the Golden Valley Tree Park)

 and a burst of sunny cooler days but cold nights, I decided it was time for pumpkin soup. I love making and eating soup, and pumpkin soup is one of my easy favourite recipes if I am in a hurry.

Honestly, this is such a easy recipe. It is for cooking in the microwave, but you can easily cook in a saucepan on the stove.

Corn and Pumpkin Soup

1 butternut pumpkin (about 1kg) peeled, seeded and chopped roughly
     (or enough to 3/4 fill your dish. I also sometimes add a parsnip and/or carrot)
2 brown onions, peeled and chopped roughly (although 1 onion is probably enough)
50g butter or margarine (no need to be accurate)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (or just enough to cover the vegetables)
440g can creamed corn (310g ok)
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cream (I don't think cream is necessary so I substitute 3 tablespoons powedered milk)
1 tablespoon chopped chives 

Combine pumpkin, onions and butter in a microwave safe dish, cover and cook in microwave on high for 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, enough to cover the vegetables), put the lid back on, and cook on high for 25 minutes until vegetables are soft. 

Stir in powdered milk, and puree.  Stir in the corn and worcestershire sauce. (add the cream here if you are using instead of the powdered milk). Add more stock or water if a little bit too thick.
Reheat and serve sprinkled with chives.

Enjoy served with fresh crusty bread of savoury scones. 

And some more shots of those gorgeous autumn leaves. You might like to click on the link to read the story and be enchanted by the music of the song "Autumn Leaves" - Les Feuilles Mortes - The story of the song "Autumn Leaves"

 What is your favourite soup recipe? Perhaps you would like to share in the comments.

Playing around with slow shutter speed
Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday

You might also like -
Winter soup warmers

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Autumn in the Golden Valley Tree Park, Balingup, Western Australia

It is autumn here in Australia. As our native trees are evergreen we don't experience here in Australia the rich fall colours on mass like those who live in the northern hemisphere. There are pockets though where this can be enjoyed.

One place is at the Golden Valley Tree Park located on two former farming properties (c 1890s) only 2 kilometres south of Balingup in Western Australia's south west corner.  Last weekend we visited to see the autumn colours. It was a beautiful windless day and as there was a light cloud cover it was actually a great day for walking and photography.

The original 20 plantings of exotic species by Olwyn Cleverland during 1930-1940's has grown to an impressive world collection of over 250 species, represented by over 1000 individual specimens. The Park, which is is heritage listed, is maintained by volunteers and sponsorship.

The park is split into two sections the World Collection spread over 35 hectares and the 25 hectare Australian Collection.
Within the World Collection there are 3 walks - the 10 minute easy Sequoia walk which has disabled access, the Pear Walk (30 minutes) and the Oak Grove walk (45 minutes)
The second two walks are moderate to easy, although over uneven ground and grass. You are free to wander off the paths and walk wherever you like.

You should allow much more time than the suggested times however to really experience the park in all its glory. If like me you have a camera, well, time becomes unimportant. Each tree had it's own glory to be admired and photographed. So our walk became an pleasurable leasurely amble.

There were many trees which I had never seen before. I was very pleased to see a Pomegranate tree as I love Pomegranates but I had never seen a tree before. 

These Josephine Pear trees at the pear tree lookout are over 100 years old, part of the original farm orchard. The views you saw in the first images were from this lookout. There is a seat here, and in other spots around the park, for you to rest-awhile and just enjoy the views.

These are Chinese Pistachios

Sheep roam the park and help to keep the grass under control. They have ingenious gates which don't have latches. The long distance walking track, the Bibbulmun Track, passes through the park on its way from Perth to Albany. You can see the yellow triangle marker on the gate below.

I loved the way the sun came through the leaves of this ash tree

Some children were enjoying running around in the leaves under the Persimmon tree - another tree which I had never seen before.  I wished I was the age of this little girl running in joyous unselfconscious abandon.

There were many families enjoying the park when we visited. And we agreed the park is a wonderful place to spend the day. There are walk paths and picnic areas, places to wander and sit. How about this amazing old mulberry tree? (bottom right). Does it bring back childhood memories of picking mulberries?

From its first plantings over 100 years ago the the Golden Valley Tree Park is now the largest arboretum in Western Australia.  All year around there is something to enjoy.

Golden Valley’s Australian Collection showcases the wide diversity of Australian native trees from tall eucalypts and mallee woodlands to dry season deciduous species and a range of rare West Australian species.
 There are 3 walks around the Australian Collection - the easy 15 minute Gum walk, and the 30 minute Wattle walk and Hillview walk (45 minutes). These last two have no formed paths.   
We have visited the Australian Collection before, but ran out of time this visit, so next time.

 Golden Valley Tree Park is only 2kms from Balingup. Follow the signposts on Old Padbury Road. Open 7 days a week, entry is free, but please make a donation to help the work of the volunteers. Dogs are allowed on a leash. No camping. Several gas powered BBqs, picnic tables, and long drop disabled access toilets. 
Walk paths are marked and the majority of the trees are labeled. 

This is an Irish Strawberry Tree

For more information, maps and merchandise please go to their web site by clicking here  - Golden Valley Tree Park

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

Monday, 4 May 2015

Playing with food at 1/800th second exposure

This is just a short post from me today as I am preparing for a "food photography" workshop that I am running at beautiful Lyndendale Gallery next week.

Recently a Photography Group of Bunbury topic was "Freeze Frame" - an image taken using a shutter speed at 1/800th second or more. 
I am very happy to say that I received a "silver" award for this image.

The most essential ingredient for this shot was to have a very patient partner to help you by pouring the wine. My husband fitted the bill - bless him. We tried many different glasses and many pours over an hour and a half. Pour, put back in the bottle, clean up, pour again. You need to take multiple shots of every pour.

In the end this shot won it for me with the way the wine sloshed up both sides of the glass and those drops bouncing off the rim. 

My set up was a shiny white tile on the kitchen bench with a piece of white perspex as the backdrop. I had a LED work light on the left hand side, and a white bounch board on the right hand side. I had my camera on a tripod. I used my 100mm macro lens and used all manual camera settings - Aperture F/3.5, - Shutter speed 1/800th sec, -ISO 400, - focal length 100mm, - spot metering, - no flash. 
I took the image in raw and then uploaded to Lightroom for initial post processing, with additional tweeks through a program I love called - Radlab. They are a collection of processing presets you can download from the web. 

Here are some other shots that didn't quite make the final cut - 

  On another day I played around again sifting flour over a ball of pastry. This was tricky to achieve by myself, so I preset the focus on the ball of pastry and used a cable shutter release for my camera. Cable release in one hand and flour sifter in the other - Tricky but I was happy with this result.  If you don't have a cable shutter release you could use your camera's self timer. 
For this shot I used my 50mm lens so I could stand closer to sift the flour as well as controlling the cable shutter release. Settings were F/2.8, 1/800sec, ISO 200, 50mm, Spot metering, no flash. 
Sadly this shot didn't make the grade with the judge at the photography group even though he said it was well executed. 

 Here is another experiment last year with noodles. It was very tricky to get the noodles to hang "just so" when you only have one hand to pick them up with the chop-sticks.

It's fun to experiment, especially if you have a friend to help.

fresh farm picked autumn Quinces
 Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

 You might also like - 
Playing around with food and light
Cook it, plate it, take a pic, and then pack it for a picnic
And slices of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon

Sunday, 26 April 2015

ANZAC Day - 25 April 2015 - 100 years centenary - We will remember them

On 7 September 1914 Norman Albert Clayden, a 19 year old Mercantile Clerk, originally from Pingelly where he had gone to school, his current address listed as C/- Hill & Hill, Wagin, Western Australia, enlisted, as did thousands of other young men from across Australia, only a month after the declaration of war on 4 August 1914.

Norman was a Lance Corporal and was assigned to the 11th Infantry Battalion AIF, H Company, a rifle company.

Following a period of training at Blackboy Hill Camp, Northam, the Unit embarked from the port of Fremantle, Western Australia, on board Transport A11 Ascanius on 2 November 1914.
The Ascanius formed part of the convoy of 38 troopships carrying approximately 35,000 Australian and New Zealand troops destined to join the Imperial Expeditionary Force. They reached the Port of Alexandria, Egypt on 2 December 1914, where they spent the next nearly 5 months before being deplored to Gallipoli, Turkey. 

Norman was shot in the head and killed on 2 May 2015 at Wire Gully on the Gallipoli Peninsula, only a week into the Gallipoli campaign.  

There seems to be some confusion over Norman's age. His Enlistments papers in 1914 show his birth date at 6/12/1892 and his age as 22 years and 8 months.  However The Australian Birth Index and his details given for the Roll of Honour Australian Memorial War Museum shows his birth as 1896.  Did Norman lie about his age when he enlisted? The following note was written on our family tree in Ancestry.com -  

Norman Albert Clayden enlisted into the 11th Battn Infantry, Australian Imperial Forces for service abroad, stating that he was a mercantile clerk and born on 6 Dec 1892 making him 22 years. At his death in 1915 he was actually only 19 years of age. His enlistment paper also stated that he had already done one years service with the 25th Light Horse.

I am currently searching to find Norman's correct birth date. 
What we do know is that Norman is one of thousands whose place of actual burial is unknown, but he is remembered on the:

The Lone Pine Memorial (Panel 33), Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli Peninsula, Canakkale Province, Turkey.   (These pictures courtesy of my sister, J Shearing)

and Panel 61 on the WW1 Commemorative Wall at Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia. 

In Canberra you can place a poppy next to the name of your loved one. We did that when we visited in January 2012. Somehow seeing his name on the wall made Norman more real to me and ever since I have felt an intense grief when we attend the Anzac Dawn Service. 

Norman was my father's great uncle. In fact my father was named after him. Norman's brother Frederick Roberts Clayden was my paternal grandfather.
Their parents were William George and Clara Clayden (nee Drew), from Kulyaling, a small town in the Western Australia wheatbelt. His brother  Pte Ernest Wilfred Clayden, 11th Bn, served on the Western Front, and returned to Australia on 3 March 1919.

 The Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli commemorates the 3268 Australians and 456 New Zealanders who have no known grave and the 960 Australians and 252 New Zealanders who were buried at sea after evacuation through wounds or disease.

On 8 January 1916, the last British troops left Helles. The Gallipoli campaign was over. Gallipoli cost the Allies 141 000 casualties, of whom more than 44 000 died. Of the dead, 8709 were Australians and 2701 were New Zealanders.
You can read more by clicking here - Gallipoli & the Anzacs

 All across Australia and New Zealand, at Gallipoli and in France, and in other countries where Australians and New Zealanders gather there are Anzac Day services on 25th April. It is a time for us to remember them.
Below are some images from the Dawn Service and daytime march and service in Bunbury on Saturday 25 April.  Our War Memorial has just been restored, the white paint stripped off revealing the beautiful Donnybrook stone beneath. 

This year there has been many exhibitions, television programs, museum displays, etc commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. Even though it was a glorious failure (from the point of view of the Allies) an Australian identity was forged in those battle fields.

On 1 November 1914, 40,000 Australians and New Zealanders left Albany on our south coast, bound for Egypt and World War 1. The new National Anzac Centre on Mount Clarence in Albany gives visitors an insight into WW1 through their interactive, multimedia displays, artifacts, rare images and audio commentary. It is well worth a visit.  An overwhelming impression I received from the exhibition was to think about those people who may have returned home but continued to suffer for many years from the affects of their war experiences and the appalling human cost of war. There are many lessons we can learn.I fear however, that we have not.

The Centre overlooks beautiful Princess Royal Harbour from where the ships left Australia. For many it was their last view of their homeland. On the summit of Mt Clarence is the magnificent Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, featuring two mounted soldiers, an Australian and a New Zealander. It is a copy of a statue originally erected in Port Said in Egypt. Another copy is located in Canberra. I wrote about it on my previous Anzac blog post which you can see by clicking here - Anzac Memorial

The Albany Heritage Park on Mt Clarence where the Anzac Centre and War Memorial is located has been upgraded with walks and several new lookouts with magnificent over the harbour and ocean. You can also visit the Princess Royal Fortress.  

One of the lookouts is the Padre White Lookout. From 1916 to 1918 Padre White served as an army chaplain with the 44th Battalion. At dawn on the 25 April 1930 he led his parishioners from St John's Church to the summit of Mount Clarence where they watched a boatman laying a wreath in King George Sound. This was the first dawn service in Australia.
 You can see images of the church below.

Another exhibition we saw this year was "Camera on Gallipoli". A unique series of photographs taken at Gallipoli. This was an Australian War Memorial Travelling Exhibition on display in Busselton. Knowing that my great-uncle Norman died at Gallipoli I was moved to tears looking through this exhibition. In the photo below you can see soldiers trying to get some sleep in their trench.

Norman Albert CLAYDEN
Regimental number881
SchoolPingelly State School, Western Australia
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationMercantile clerk
Addressc/o Hill and Hill, Wagin, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation22
Next of kinW G Clayden, 9 Edward Street, East Perth, Western Australia
Previous military serviceLight Horse
Enlistment date7 September 1914
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll18 August 1914
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name11th Battalion, H Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/28/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board Transport A11 Ascanius on 2 November 1914
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll11th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 2 May 1915
Place of death or woundingGallipoli, Turkey
Date of death2 May 1915
Age at death19
Age at death from cemetery records19
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Lone Pine Memorial (Panel 33), Gallipoli, Turkey

Parents: William George and Clara CLAYDEN, Craigie, Kulyaling, Western Australia. Native of Pingelly, Western Australia

Brother: 6488 Pte Ernest Wilfred CLAYDEN, 11th Bn, returned to Australia, 3 March 1919.

The Lone Pine Memorial stands over the centre of the Turkish trenches and tunnels which were the scene of heavy fighting during the August offensive. Most cemeteries on Gallipoli contain relatively few marked graves, and the majority of Australians killed on Gallipoli are commemorated here.

Above information is from: The AIF Project

Sadly I have been unable to find a photo of my great-uncle Norman Clayden. There is a famous picture of the 11th Battalion on one of the Pyramids in Egypt before they left for Gallipoli. Many of the men in the picture are unidentified. I know my uncle is among them - but which one is he?  There is a project to find out their names - you can read more about it at the link below. 

Camped in Egypt before being shipped to the Dardanelles, the men of the Australian Infantry Division’s 11th Battalion were ordered to a nearby landmark, for a group photo. It was likely the last ever image taken of many of them.
“After Church this morning the whole Battalion was marched up to the Pyramid (Old Cheops) and we had a photo took or at least several of them,” wrote Captain Charles Barnes in his diary for Sunday, January 10, 1915.

Click here to read more - 11th Battalion Egypt

Some further reading: please click on the links: 

Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc 

On 31 October 1914, two transport ships sailed from Fremantle. HMAT Ascanius carried Western Australia's 11th Infantry Battalion with South Australia's 10th Infantry Battalion and HMAT Medic carried Western Australia's 12th Infantry Battalion and 3rd Field Company Engineers. Also travelling on the Medic were Western Australian and South Australian men from the 8th Battery 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, Divisional Train (1 to 4 Companies Army Service Corps), 1st Division 3rd Australian Field Ambulance and the Divisional Ammunition Column.
The HMAS Pioneer and the Japanese ship HIJMS Ibuki provided escort. On 3 November 1914 they joined up with a large convoy from Albany to make their precarious journey to war. 

11th Battalion
The 11th Battalion was formed on 17 August 1914, less than two weeks after the declaration of war on 4 August, and was among the first infantry units raised during World War I for the all-volunteer First Australian Imperial Force.
On formation, the battalion consisted of eight rifle companies, designated 'A' to 'H', and a headquarters company with signals, transport, medical and machine-gun sections.

Australian War Memorial
Australians call the campaign “Gallipoli”; to Turks, it is “Çanakkale Savasi”. As part of the First World War, soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, on one side, and soldiers of the British Empire and France, on the other, fought a long and bloody battle on the Gallipoli peninsula.
The Turkish defenders were victorious. After an eight-month-long campaign British Empire and French forces withdrew, having suffered 44,000 deaths. At least 85,000 Turkish soldiers died in the campaign.
Consequently, Gallipoli is of profound importance to the national identity of both Australia and Turkey

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this look at the Anzac Day tradition in Australia. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

You might also like:
  April - on Anzac Day we will remember them - 25 April 2014
Celebrating Australia Day and Waltzing Matilda - January 2014
Making Anzac biscuits  - June 2014