I Need a Holiday

croc (copy)

Ever heard of the saying I need a holiday to get over the holidays?

Why is that?

Maybe because a holiday can mean different things to everyone in the family.

On a recent trip heading for home, after a few days up the North Coast we stopped at the Australian Reptile park. It was a birthday present for our son. He was looking forward to seeing the large collection of alligators and crocodiles.

My husband set the alarm for 4.30am. You say WHAT now. His theory….. we had a three-hour drive to reach our destination. When the alarm ripped through my slumbering brain and I woke feeling bug-eyed and sluggish. I knew the days of sleeping in, had made me soft. I cursed the hour he had chosen for us to rise, but I stumbled out of bed anyway. Knowing I will  have to get back into my early morning writing sessions soon.

My well-planned-man reminded us that we needed to beat the crowds, if our boy was to have any chance of enjoying himself. Due to his sensitivity to noise and large crowds. I could not argue. Hubby smiled at me when we reached The Reptile park with one minute to spare before opening time. I could tell he was waiting for a pat on the back.

Three buses of international tourists were already waiting at the entrance. My son became nervous. We reminded him why we were there. I love reptiles too. I don’t know why, but they intrigue me. Especially crocodiles. They sure know how to soak up the sun and store energy.

croc2 (copy) croc3 (copy)

This is Eric, a salt water crocodile. He did not move at first and we thought he was a sculpture. We had a giggle when we realised he was not a sculpture. Giant sized and majestic. Measuring in at just under five metres. Sometimes its fun to do nothing. I was a little envious of Eric.

Holidays are a good way to take you out of your routine and comfort zone. The kids left us behind. Calling out across the park and doing a running commentary at every enclosure. The favourite, stop as crazy as this may sound, was the spider laboratory.

The Australian Reptile park has a Funnel-web Spider Laboratory. How cool is that? Maybe for the kids and hubby (they love eight legged, hairy creatures)……I have an arachnid phobia.

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Giant funnel-web robot

My kids encouraged me to walk the walk with them. Thank the heavens. The spiders were behind glass. Each in their own little plastic unit. I felt safe. Yet the hairs on the back of my neck told a different story. My skin crawled, counting all the freshly caught specimens. I mentally stored these feelings of fear for my writing journal. You never know when you need to recall how something made you feel.

The Park produces the anti-venom from the donations of Funnel-Webs people bring in from their own back yards. Yep we have them too.

The park also has many other creepy crawlies (Giant bird eating spiders from South America) and my kids enjoyed watching me suffer in there. Although it was interesting to see how they milked the venom from a funnel-web. Don’t try this at home. Wave something near the spider to make it aggressive. It does not take long before they give up that venom. A small squeeze of suction draws the venom into a long tube.

After watching it my son said “That was heaps cool.”

Who would have thought time spent in the spider laboratory would be fun? If you ever get the chance to go, it is worth it, as they also have many Australian native animals, snakes and birds. Also the famous platypus and the feisty Tasmanian devil. Australia has claim to many of the deadliest snakes and spiders on earth and I prefer to appreciate each one from a distance when possible. Some of the snakes on show I have met in our back yard.

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Fabulous Tasmanian Devil

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Beautiful Rock Wallaby

Having a break from the daily routine was FUN. I did not expect to enjoy it that much. My idea of a holiday was lazing about on a deck overlooking the ocean. A book in one hand  and a bevy of choice in the other. Putt-putt golf, beach days, a day getting lost in a giant maze (no one else got lost except me) we hardly had a break in-between.

Now we all have colds and I need another holiday. What is your ideal holiday I’m still dreaming about mine.

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sea (copy)

Art work by Kath Unsworth

Looking out my window in the early hours I see the sun filtering across the mountainside, a soft dappled light of pale yellow. With the grass smothered in a thick layer of frost, I wrap myself up like an Eskimo, little flesh is exposed for the morning walk. When I feel the bite of an ice-cold wind on my cheeks and gaze at the beauty of soft clouds blanketing the base of our mountain I am in awe. But I can’t help dreaming of warmer days.

Winter is a time to slow down just a little. This week I was so busy I did not get the chance to post my Illustration friday artwork, the word topic was SUMMER.

I am trying to expand my skills with drawing children. looking at last summers photo’s I came across some snaps of a day on the beach. The challenge is legs and I still need lots of practice when you look closely, my son often walks on his toes, his wiggly walk became my study for the topic of the week.

Summer to us, means many days spent on the beach. It is our paradise a special place and one I tell my children they are lucky to experience on most weekends. As I lived many miles away from the coast as a child and it was a rare occasion to spend time at the sea. So we have the mountains to wake up to each morn and on weekends the beautiful South Coast to explore.

Collecting shells or counting sea stars are my favourite things, the kids love to grab their boards and hit the surf in the warmer months. My son is a water baby and never feels the cold even when his lips turn blue and he can’t stop shivering. Off he goes back in for more. For some reason the water calms him. My mother and I have had many wonderful conversations sitting and watching the kids play. She told me she will never grow tired of the sea and says this often.

Ice cream’s and beach days seem a long way off in the cruel winds of this winter. Yet the longest day has been and gone and when I need a summer hit I read all my favourite blogs from across the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, I love winter on the beach too. I saw my first whale of the season the other day. I love when our special place is empty and we have the rocks to ourselves. The children go rock climbing and build sand castles. Each visit to the sea brings us something new to admire.

I hope where ever you are, you are getting the most out of your season and life is sweet.

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10 Tips for Picture Book Writers

Minuscule Moments:

Guest Post please check it out and leave a comment

Originally posted on WordDreams...:

I have a wonderful efriend–Kath Unsworth–who writes and draws children’s books. She blogs at Miniscule Moments, her take on life and writing, with lots of her original drawings. I had the honor of being a beta reader on one of her children’s books and was blown away. The voice is excellent, the plot perfect for youngers, but what really made the book was the pictures. They were fresh, original, and communicated the written word perfectly.

Which is why I asked Kath to write a post in my Genre series on tips for writing picture books. You’re going to enjoy this article:

picture booksYou Are Never too Old to Learn Something New

I want to thank Jacqui for inviting me over. I am working on my first picture book and it has been an amazing journey of learning. You are never to old to learn. I should know, I am turning fifty…

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Crazy Cat Girl I Love You/Illustration Friday


This week’s topic is:



mask (copy)

Artwork by Kath Unsworth

I instantly thought about my daughters cat mask, when I discovered the http://illustrationfriday.com topic was Mask.

When I asked her if I could borrow it, she put it on and said….

“You can draw me mum!”

I wanted a bit of dramatic shadow so I placed her near a lamp and I took some photo’s. She is as crazy about art as me and I love her whimsical ways. I also love how she pushes me to create. At the moment she gets up and brings her pencils to the breakfast table. Amongst the crunchy nut corn flakes and the spilt hot chocky, she creates art. I can see her work evolving due to her drawing every day. I am lucky I am surrounded by such a passionate creative family.

I enjoyed creating this abstract dark image, a small playful memory of a rainy afternoon that I spent with my girl chatting, laughing and drawing.

We talked about our favourite movies and the movie we had just seen Maleficent. We are both attracted to dark characters in stories, I have a feeling she will be a goth girl one day. Black on black being her favourite outfit and the fact she thought Maleficent was the coolest fairy ever! (Her outfits were mostly black). We really enjoyed watching that dark fairy tale with a twist. What ever my daughter chooses to do in life, I know there will never be a dull moment.

On a completely different note, When I was younger, I swore to my  family that if I did not get married, I would live in a house with ten cats. The bizarre old woman on the street who smells of whiskers cat food and talks to herself. I came close. (I do talk to myself).

I hope you enjoy the art I share here, I never know what will come next, it evolves with me as I live, laugh and learn.

Thanks for visiting, how do you relax and share fun times with the family? I will cherish the rainy day and my crazy cat masked daughter’s shenanigans till the end of time.

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Everything I Need


I cannot take credit for these beautiful photos. My husband Pete has an eye for the minuscule moments in life too. He has a gift to see beauty in places where no body looks.

When we moved from the suburban sprawl, sold our house, gave up good paying jobs to live life on a dairy farm. I will admit it was not easy at first. I am lucky no one told me about the spiders the size of dinner plates, the snakes that like to come inside and the not so talkative neighbours (COWS). I would not have come. Sometimes we don’t actually know what we need. BUT if you follow your gut and take a few risks, you might end up living in paradise. Well paradise with added extra’s. You only have to look at these pictures to see that nature inspires Pete in so many ways.


I am in awe of his photos, no supersonic camera, just a good eye and the right time of day. He is my soul mate the one person who challenges me but most of all believes in my crazy dreams. He encourages the illustrations, the mad writing and my hope of  success one day.


How could I not flourish living with someone who sees the world like he does. We inspire each other and there is always a healthy competition to see who can get the best photo of the day. I have to admit (shh) he wins every time.


If you like Pete’s pics be sure to stop by his Facebook page Harvestmoon and tell him I sent you. He also takes many photo’s of the cows on the dairy too.

I know when we retire one day our dream is to go on a holiday with camera’s, paints and a blank canvas or two.


To know such a man who loves nature and the simple life even more than me is a blessing. When I day-dream about winning the lottery and buying my home (with a large art/writing studio), he says I already have everything I need. When I think about it, I mean really think about life and how precious it is, I know I already have everything I need too.


Live in the microscopic moments, open your eyes and appreciate dew drops on a spider’s web. Tiny glass balls suspended in time, only for an instant and then they are gone.

How about you, do you have everything you need?


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Contraption (Illustration Friday Prompt)

cog owl (copy)

This week’s topic is:


All I could think about was an owl combined with a steam punk kind of design.

Pushing my boundaries every week joining this group and it helps me to stretch the illustration muscles. I hope every one is having a fantastic week.

Stay tuned for my writing groups prompt up next A Fly on a Wall coming soon.

This illustration came up so nice I added to it and may use it as my next header I like change how about you?

What would you like to see me draw next?

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Temptation (A crazy cat who loves cake?)

MORE CATS you say, I say sorry, they happen to share the house we live in and inspire me to draw every day.

Most people who follow this blog know I steal my ideas for character’s from the animals around the farm.

This weeks Illustration Friday word was temptation, all I could think about was a picture book I want to write, it’s about my cat Boo. She is a small brown and grey tabby who we saved from deaths door, she had the cat flu as a kitten and her mother abandoned her.  My husband brought her home after he found her just sitting huddled in a tiny ball out in the pouring rain. I nursed her back to health. Boo’s devotion is amazing and she can often be found one step behind me, just sitting and watching. Sometimes its a little creepy. She is slowly learning that she can get attention from the other members of the family too.

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Boo by Kath Unsworth

I have never seen a cat get so fired up over a cake crumb. She will eat it out of your hand if you are not quick enough to finish. I have watched my daughter giggling and holding her cupcake up high to stop her taking a bite…….

That got me thinking about a small kitty and a simple picture book with colourful images of delectable cakes. Title


What kid does not like cake? I remember a time when my two kids could not wait for birthday cake. One of my favourite books to read them was about a Hippo who liked to eat cake. Theres a hippopotamus on the roof eating cake, I read that book over and over. Maybe one day children may want to read my stories more than once.

Please share something crazy your pet does, you never know it might become an idea for a picture book, although I have so many at the moment, my brain is bursting at the seams with critters scrambling for attention.

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