Rich fruit cake


The easter show would not be the easter show without cake. The arts and crafts pavilion features row upon row upon row of sultana cake, marble cake and various classes of fruit cake, all baked to exact—and exacting—standards. No use of ring tins, no rack marks, no packet mixtures, no icing. In fruit cakes, nuts must be cut to a size that doesn’t interfere with the cutting of the cake. Cakes can be round or square, but must be 20 cm. No trimming, smooth sides, evenly browned, fruit distributed evenly, moist but not heavy or doughy. More rules than you can poke a stick at! What intrigues me is the judging. Each of these cakes has a small wedge cut out of it for tasting—but after a few mouthfuls, how is a judge able to distinguish one bite of cake from another, especially when they are made using the same recipe!



It’s Sydney Royal Easter Show time again. This year I am very pleased to be the recipient of a blue ribbon for my cased-in binding. I left the making of the book till the last minute—the glue was barely dry when I delivered it to the arts and crafts hall—so the photograph will have to wait till later. Meanwhile, after my stint on the NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders demonstration table yesterday, I spent the afternoon enjoying the rest of the show. I watched dogs rounding up sheep and horses rounding up cattle, admired fruit cakes and sultana cakes and pumpkin scones and jars of lemon butter and marmalade. And this colourful display of dahlias with their ribbons, certificates and handwritten labels.



Also at the Ulupalakua Ranch is this sign. I’m not certain—because I was too busy admiring the carved sleeve and pointing finger—but I’m pretty sure pedestrians are being thanked for keeping to the path, as the writing appears on both sides. I particularly like the pointing device, which made me laugh because this type of formal attire—white cuff, navy blue jacket with buttons—is such a rare sight in the Hawaiian islands, where the aloha shirt is de rigueur. The typeface is Brush Script.

Hula circle


The hula circle, on the lawn in front of Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch, was originally a ring of cypress trees planted by King David Kalakaua in the 1870s. The circle, in which his dancers would perform, symbolised an era of reawakening for Hawaiian culture and tradition. In 2012, two of the 145-foot trees were destroyed by a late winter storm, and others were subsequently found to be unsafe. To preserve the deep meaning of the circle, artist Tim Garcia was asked to carve the remaining stumps in a way that told their story. The result is an arresting and beautiful sight: three hula dancers, three guardians, two obelisks, an infinity vessel and a figure representing Kalakaua, his arm raised in a welcoming gesture for all to come and celebrate the legacy of Ulupalakua. Halau—hula schools—come from around the world to dance in this circle, which the locals say has become more defined with the loss of height. And the salvageable wood from the old trees was milled onsite for new fencing.



This may well be just a telegraph pole cluttered with old staples and nails, but what a work of art! This accidental sculpture in upcountry Maui—the splintery wood, those rusty staples and bent nails, and the yellow reflector that has seen better days—would, I’m sure, have a story to tell in the notices, no longer attached, of community meetings, lost dogs, items for sale, local events and who’s been playing at the bar up the road.

Another call box


I was pretty excited about revisiting the site of the call box that got me started on this whole blog thing, so it took me completely by surprise that it wasn’t there. On my recent visit to Hawaii we drove the Pali Highway several times: every time I looked out for that original call box, and every time it wasn’t there. Much of the graffiti and painted signage that I have photographed over the last couple of years has disappeared but I didn’t expect a call box to be removed! However it seems that the popularity of cell phones has made many of the Oahu call boxes obsolete—assistance calls dropped from 2634 in 2001 to 361 in 2011—and at least 276 of them have been removed. This one is on the Honoapiilani Highway, Maui, and comes complete with a priority mail sticker. I should have acted fast and added my address—then maybe someone would have posted it to me.



Look, I know it’s a stretch, talking about a fish, but really I just love the word humuhumunukunukuāpua’a. I like the look of the word, I like to say it out loud, I like that it means ‘trigger fish with a snout like a pig’. Humuhumunukunukuāpua’a (there, I’ve said it again) is Hawaii’s official fish, and its name is one of the longest words in the Hawaiian language. It’s a beautiful looking fish with distinctive colours—all yellow and black and turquoise with highlights of red and blue—that can fade to drabness when it feels threatened or become vivid when it feels safe.



I’m not a big fan of vertical words, but in this instance I kind of like it—the vertical on vertical on vertical of all those tall palm trees and that tall architectural detail. Mallams was a family owned and run supermarket, in Mullumbimby NSW, that traded for more than a hundred years, starting as a general store that made home deliveries by horse and cart, and serving as a hub for the local farming community. In recent times, Mallams had plans to expand, but they encountered so much local opposition that they sold up to Woolworths.



I know they’re not sheep, and I know it doesn’t say baa, but that’s where my mind insists on going with this. Hard to know if they’re implying meat market with this signage, but it was shaping up to be a busy Friday night, the boys already arriving in their hotted up cars. Despite the rather good write-up on the food here, we took the quiet way out – Thai takeaway and a cold beer, back on the verandah of our hotel room, overlooking the (cattle-free) garden.



My imagination ran riot when I saw that the Signal Hotel in Werris Creek was for sale. Eighteen bedrooms plus an additional manager’s residence, close to transport and shops, the darkly romantic Mount Terrible in the distance, and only four hours from Sydney. All this and more (!), but what I really wanted was ownership of this fabulous sans serif signal, stark in the harsh afternoon sun, white-on-white with a drop shadow and half broken just so, as if a designer had already got to it.