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Time for a Kit Kat and a small break

October 8, 2010

Dear Readers

I know I haven’t been on the ball with my postings lately, it has been busier than usual and I’m in need for a Kit Kat break.

Will be back posting regularly from next week. Enjoy your weekend everyone.

See you all next week.




Flowing with the wind:Spanish Beard

October 1, 2010

I love visiting my friend who lives on the outskirts of Tampa. Why? It has a lot to do with her one year old son, but also I love looking at the Spanish Beard as it sways gently in the breeze, clump upon clump lie wrapped over branches like old cloth wrung out to dry. It always reminds me of something out of “Gone with the Wind”.

by Cate

Native to Louisiana, Spanish Moss goes with the wind — by its strands or by bird — all the way down to Florida. And there is stays draped over trees, creating the perfect nesting material for birds and an spooky atmosphere for Halloween.

by Cate

Prized for its resilience to insects, the fibres were widely used in mattresses during the 19th century. Innovation has seen a change in the demand for this green moss, but that doesn’t bother me. As a newbie to this area I love the look of this plant, the way it captures the light, the way it flows with the wind, not against it.

by Cate

I haven’t seen any moss around my area; only palms, palms and more palms.

Caffeinated Traveller

One person’s food is another’s fodder

September 28, 2010

Orange, red, green, grey, yellow, big, small, round, oblong, there are so many ways to describe the humble pumpkin. And so many ways to eat it, well for some cultures that is, others tend to use this versatile vegetable as simply decoration.

It’s autumn and along with the seasonal changes in leaves, picking fruit and reaping  hay, there is also pumpkin harvesting where the harvested crop end up on people’s porches as “art” or in Thanksgiving pies as soulful “yum”. Pumpkin in the US is symbolic for something I haven’t quite figured out, but whatever it is, this vegetable accords special status in supermarket displays every autumn.

via D Sharon Pruitt

In New Zealand a pumpkin is just a vegetable, nothing more nothing less. This orange delight is served roasted with lamb, steamed for its vitamins, pulped for soup, added to savoury scones and  muffins and sometimes used for sweets like pie. It doesn’t receive any special accolades or seasonal rights on the vegetable display shelves. Seldom does it get carved and carefully placed on window sills and verandas. But it does get eaten — by humans — in every way imaginable.

Head over to England and pumpkin is considered fodder for cows in the way New Zealand farmers use turnips and swedes. Roasting pumpkin is just not done. Some European countries still serve pumpkin with stews and casseroles as do parts of southern China — and Japan adds it to various savoury dishes.

Like all bright coloured fruits and vegetables the mighty pumpkin is valued for its medicinal properties. Wander down some of the older parts of cities like Seoul and you will likely find a tiny pumpkin processing shop crammed between bigger shops. Koreans add pumpkin to yogurt and blend it with rice for gruel. There is even a pumpkin candy usually sold by street vendors during the winter months. This stuff is brutal and requires a set of strong teeth.

So what is great about the pumpkin (American) aka pepon (French) or pumpion (English) particularly in a sweet pie? The vegetable is believed to have originated in North America, the first pie came about in the late 17th century baked by early settlers using the outer skin as the pie casing. Why is it eaten around Thanksgiving? Harvest time. Historically though, the pumpkin pie was served as a vegetable in colonial times long before natural and unnatural sweeteners took over and claimed it as a dessert.

via Fit Mama Eats

There is one part of the pumpkin that follows a similar consumption path no matter which country and that is the pumpkin seed. Roasted or toasted, salted or naturally bland, seed chomping can be viewed wherever you travel.

by Cate

Who is up for pumpkin pie? I’m more of a Thai Pumpkin soup fan myself.

Caffeinated Traveller

Confessions of an addict

September 22, 2010

It’s a desperate feeling that often sweeps over me when I’m wondering around a new place.  A desire so strong its uncontrollable and before I know it, I’m standing outside a shop spinning a stand looking for something to quell this urge inside of me.

This something can be in the form of a gadget that depicts where I am visiting like a key ring or pin,  but usually it’s a picture — be it a retro take on life or a creative composition. And then when I’ve found my visual hit I saunter over to a shady seat preferably with a view, and write these words — having a great time, wish you were here.

My name is Cate and I am a postcard addict.

I remember how the addiction began with a visit to London, I was mesmerised by pictures of men dressed in red and black wearing  furry hats, shiny gemstones set in crowns, and gaudy dressed folk from the East End. The vivid colours lured me into an old world I had touched upon in social studies classes at school.

Then Paris gave me visions of steel and glass, watercolours and oils that I couldn’t better with my tiny point and shoot Olympus. Greece offered up its blue seas and whitewashed churches only the way a postcard could do it. Behind Yugoslavia’s iron wall I was unable to shoot — with a camera — and had to go with postcards portraying a country with a false sense of security. All these experiences enabled my addiction.

Soon walls were crammed with palaces, flamenco dancers, bull fighters and country pubs. Landscapes tried to compete for space as golden beaches overlapped snowclad mountains and tranquil fields of poppies. Time gave way to torn edges and discoloration, but my pictures still remain pinned to the wall reminding me of where I’ve ventured as though I am an old lady clinging to my past when really all I want is visual stimulation.

by Cate

When postcards become “so last century”, I mourned for the loss of a once popular pastime that involved writing a few simple but succinct sentences to tie into the travel experience. Postcard writing was an art back then which hasn’t made it into the e-world of tweets, texts and email. Times have changed — omg I can’t believe I’m saying this.

In case you don’t know me, I am the one who stands in the souvenir shop spinning the squeaky card stand, I am the one who pulls dusty cards from holders giving them a new life. I am the one who seeks out stamps and airmail stickers hunting down the elusive post office.

I am the one who receives snickers from young backpackers and snide comments from embarrassed friends as I go on the prowl for another picture postcard buzz.

I am an addict.

Caffeinated Traveller

Jean Batten: aviatrix, explorer and glamour queen.

September 17, 2010

A dreadful feeling of loneliness almost overwhelmed me as I left the African coast and steered the aeroplane out into the blackness of the Atlantic on a course for Brazil, nearly two thousand miles away. To the north I could see the blurred gleam of the lighthouse at Dakar sending its friendly beam out into the night. I switched off the navigation lights, for the lighted cabin seemed to make the darkness outside more intense as I peered vainly through the windows trying to distinguish the horizon. “It must get light soon,” I thought, glancing at the clock, to realize that it was only twenty minutes since I had left Thies.”

(Jean Batten – solo round the world aviatrix 1909 -1982)

I’ve often wondered what drives a person like Jean Batten to explore beyond the norm: to set records that exert physical and mental energy, to keep going when loneliness sets in; or was she someone who yearned for solitude?

by Cate

Back then…

During the early 1900’s when flight had taken hold on the modern world, aviators and aviatrixes grew in numbers and so did intrepid flight pursuits. Well known amongst this group were the American Amelia Earhart, British Amy Johnson, Australian Kingsford Smith and New Zealander Jean Batten. Remarkable trips were recorded on a constant basis by these pilots and others: solo Trans Atlantic flights, Trans Tasman, Trans Pacific and England to New Zealand.

These trips are now considered everyday flights taken by ordinary people, but back then when the word plane was prefixed with “aero” not “air”, and designs for efficiency were ongoing, taking a solo flight around the globe was pretty phenomenal.

In the mid 1930’s novice pilot Jean Batten left England for Australia in an attempt to break (or take) the world record that renown aviatrix Amy Johnson made 3 years earlier. And she did, eventually. After three risky attempts, Jean Batten flew from England to Australia in 14 days, in a small plane, a de Havilland Gypsy Moth.

Women like Batten had gumption but they didn’t compromise on their style nor glamour. It is reputed that when Batten went on her record breaking flights, she always carried a dress — and possibly makeup.

by Cate

She lived on thermos tea and coffee, sandwiches and goodwill. She also relied on luck, local knowledge and sheer determination. To me she epitomised adventure: a solo woman who didn’t worry herself sick about personal safety, didn’t carry a personal alarm system or mace spray. Like explorers before and after her, she used a combination of intellect, wit and charm to get what she wanted — to fly the skies.

Roots and Ending

Jean Batten was born on September 15 1909, if she were alive today she would have turned 101 on Wednesday 15 Sept.  She was dubbed Garbo of the Skies for her glamorous looks and introverted lifestyle once her fame died out. A great woman remembered in her home town Rotorua where memorials have been erected in her honour outside the town’s information centre and inside the airport terminal. But sadly she has been forgotten by most of the modern day world. Batten’s mysterious death in Spain 1982 went unnoticed by the press an organisation that used to adore her; she was found in an unmarked grave reputed to have died of complications from a dog bite.

by Cate

As I read her biography “My Life” it felt I was seated next to her, in the passenger’s seat as she flew over the dusty barren terrain of Persia and the mountainous landscape of Europe. She had lunch with officials and tea with expat wives, she worked alongside mechanics on her plane and negotiated flight details with commanders.

Jean Batten is a fine example of how travel defines a person. For more in depth information about the marvels of Jean Batten check out Travel for Aircraft’s recent post.

Caffeinated Traveller

Arts + café = Art’s Café

September 14, 2010

It was the sign that made me stop at Art’s Café. Not a particularly creative sign, it lacked the neon vibrancy of a Hong Kong masterpiece or a Las Vegas classic and it had very little in the way of professional pizzazz. It was simply a piece of wood, leaning against a pole and nothing more. But its words caught my attention and persuaded me to walk through the door of this small artsy café.

by Cate

Like a family home, the small interior was furnished with love: a couple of old sofas covered up with plain fabric sat against a wall, an old writing desk used as an internet station foretold stories of earlier owners. Nic-nacs sat on shelves and art hung everywhere — paintings, sculpture, sketches, photography — close to each other with enough space in between to give them life.

by Cate

These works are by the resident artists who live in apartments upstairs or have studios around the back. Art’s Café is a local arts hub: a place to congregate and converse over a freshly brewed cup of coffee, dark chocolate muffins or an artery clogging breakfast.

by Cate

by Cate

I sat and chatted with one of the regulars and watched the owner go about her work. Bright and friendly is how I would describe her, along with warm and charming. I didn’t ask her name, but plan to ask it next time around.

If that sign hadn’t caught my attention, I would have driven right by without wondering what lay behind it. A simple sign with powerful words — Support Small Business. Eat here.

by Cate

Now for the details:  Filter coffee comes in polystyrene cups ( please please please upgrade to ceramic!!) and it is super cheap plus fresh and tasty. I ordered two coffees and a muffin and the total cost was $3. Yes you read it right.

The café has live music on Saturday evenings, but call first (802) 349-0236 .

Art’s Café is located in Northwood — the upcoming arts district in West Palm Beach.Public transport routes around the city of West Palm Beach are a mystery to many. If you know your destination and route you may be able to make it to this place check out schedules here

photo by Cate mural artist unknown

The more I explore the outer parametres of West Palm Beach, the more interesting it becomes.

Caffeinated Traveller

Read, learn, travel: International Literacy Day

September 7, 2010

The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go

Dr. Seuss

Every time I’m doing something in the kitchen I stand in front of a wall and dream. This wall is nothing spectacular, ordinary except for one thing — a map. Spread across the entire wall is a world map that has not only names of places and countries, but mountains and rivers, off-shore islands, equatorial zones, oceans and seas. It is a map so concise with names that I learn something new each day. The more I know, the more driven I am to go places near and far. But I am one of the lucky ones because I can read.

September 8 is International Literacy Day, a day that celebrates literacy but also raises awareness of the rise of illiteracy among adults:30 million US adults cannot read, one millions adults in London are illiterate, six million in Mexico. Around 80 million adults worldwide cannot read, most are women.

The numbers are staggering, the opportunities lost for a better life are even more so.

I cannot imagine a world without words and books that let me explore and imagine whenever I choose. Stories that scare me, set me off on an adventures and take me into a murder mystery. And when I done with all of these I can find words that pose as questions and opinions to test my intellect and memory. If I hadn’t been given the chance to read, as a child, I wouldn’t have travelled, or understood the science behind photography, or combined ingredients to create a delicious meal. If I hadn’t learnt to read, I wouldn’t be here now doing what I love, seeking new challenges, figuring out place names in a world map.

It is time for me to stop squandering this gift and introduce Dr Seuss’s dream and books to someone.

by Cate

Caffeinated Traveller aka reader, learner, traveller