Thursday, 29 January 2015

Sylvanian Families Valentines Photo Competition!!!

That special time of year is just around the corner... Everywhere you look there are hearts and roses and everyone around seems just a little happier. You guessed it, Valentine's day is drawing near!

And what better way to celebrate this glorious occasion than with a little photo competition!?

The Rules:

  • The competition is open to everyone from all around the world, just as long as you are also a member of our Sylvanian Families and Calico Critters Community forum. If you are not yet a member, go sign up now! :-)
  • Your photo must be of original Sylvanian Families and/or Calico Critters.
  • Your photo may contain items from other toy lines for decoration etc, but the main focus has to be on the Sylvanian Families / Calico Critters.
  • Photos must fit the theme of Love / Valentine's day.
  • Photoshop effects are allowed, but please don't overdo it! The idea is still to have a photograph when you are done, not a whole digitally drawn image that once was a photograph...
  • You are allowed to enter a maximum of three images.
  • Entries have to be sent to me via email - (I will reply to your message to let you know that I have received it.
  • Entries have to be sent in any digital format and need to be at least 800x600pixels big.
  • Closing date for entries is 14 February 2015.
  • Prizes will be drawn as soon as all entries have been received.
  • The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges - these judges will not be allowed to enter in this competition!
  • The winner will be announced on 15 February 2015.

The Prizes:

  • The winner will receive a Sylvanian Families Harvey Cat Family.
  • Second prize will receive an Easy Buy dressing table. (Figure not included)

So go dust off those cameras and get your creative juices flowing!!! It is time to celebrate the month of love! <3

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A Champagne Breakfast for grandmother Hazel.

Rooibosch Hill recently received a brand new critterzen! Hazel Dappledawn has decided to move from the busy city of Sylvania to spend her retirement in the serenity of the countryside. Of course the esteemed ladies of Rooibosch decided to celebrate the new arrival with a lovely champagne breakfast in Dove Dale's garden. Maurice Chantilly did a wonderful job with the catering and all of the old ladies enjoyed the outing immensely.

Hazel and Rihanna are my first two members of the Dappledawn family! I think that Hazel is just very cute and looks oh so hip with her bright pink shawl! ;-)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Visiting the Diaz Museum - Part 2

The grounds of the Dias Museum Complex are filled with a collection of fynbos and other plants that occur naturally in the Mossel Bay area. Most of these plants were used for shelter, food and for medicinal purposes by the European settlers and indigenous people alike. The museum keeps samples of these flowers from their botanical gardens in vases at the entrance of the complex so that visitors can study the plant samples while they read about them in the exhibit. 

There is also a Braille trail that makes the gardens accessible to visually-impaired people so that they can read about, feel and smell the wonderful collection of plantlife. 

The Dias Complex also includes a shell museum with a small aquarium, which Shelly and Sandy were very excited to explore. There are a number of fish tanks with various sea creatures inside the museum, as well as large shell exhibits. Shelly was particularly fond of this little fellow who hid behind his rock every time we tried to snap a photo of him.

But she was a little unsettled to stand in front of the lobster tank! 

Everybody loved the little Octopus on display and we enjoyed watching him eat his lunch. 

Then we found these bright little spiky starfish. Aren't they pretty!?

The shell museum has lots of beautiful shells of all shapes and sizes on display. The children enjoyed looking through all of the lovely displays and we all loved picking our own favorites in each display. 

Shelly decided that her favorite display was the shell house diorama. She promptly decided that she wants to live in a shell house just like it one day. 

In the center of the shell display, we found the biggest clam shell ever! 

On the top floor of the shell museum, there is a whale and dolphin information section with information and identification charts and dolphin models. 

As you leave the museum, you are greeted by these friendly fellows! It took some coaching and pleading to get all of the kids back down the stairs to the exit, but we thought that these guys were an awesome ending to our tour of the Dias Museum Complex.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Visiting the Diaz Museum - Part 1

While we were on holiday in Mossel Bay, we visited the Bartholomeu Dias Museum Complex and, of course, my furry friends were quick to join in on the fun! The Neptune family posed for some photos so that we can give you all a tour of the facility - you can also read more about the complex and its history on the Dias Museum webpage.

Bartholomeu Dias de Novais was a Portuguese explorer who sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488 and was the first European known to do so. The museum complex is built on the very site where the European explorers first came ashore and made contact with the indigenous people.
There are also five National Monuments on the museum grounds, four of which dating between 1830 and 1902.

Inside the maritime museum, we found a big hand painted mural of the Portuguese land and sea trade routes. Some of the many items transported along this route, included silks and spices like ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and coriander.

They also have scale models of ships on display in the museum, one of which shows an example of how the decks are arranged inside a ship. Caspian found this very interesting and posed for a photo with one of the models.

They even have a scale model of the ship that Bartholomeu Dias used for his exploration missions around Africa. It is called a Caravel and is a small, fast and highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century. Because of their size, they had limited capacity for cargo and crew, but their smaller size and shallower keel allowed the Caravel to sail upriver in shallow coastal waters.

If the scale model of the Caravel was not enough, the Dias museum also has a full sized replica of Bartholomeu Dias' Caravel on display! The ship is 23,5 meters long and was launched on 14 June 1987, she sailed from Lisabon with a crew of 16 and arrived in Mossel Bay on 3 Fabruary 1988 - the 500th anniversary of Dias' landing. She then sailed to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Port Edward and Durban as part of the Dias88 Festival, before arriving back at her permanent home in Mosselbay, where she was dry docked and the building closed up around her.

The kids were a little afraid to walk over the wooden bridge to board the ship, so we had to take all of our photos from the walkways around her! Caspian, however, was willing to pose for a photo on the railing and all of the other guests waited patiently for us to finish our mini photo session before boarding the ship again. 

There are also some very interesting items on display all over the museum, one of which is this replica Backstaff. The Backstaff (Or Back Quadrant) is a navigational instrument that was used to determine latitude by measuring the altitude of the sun in the sky.

Nestled between some of the antique and vintage items on the top floor of the museum, we found this very old bicycle. We all had a very good laugh at the thought of having to actually go anywhere on it though!

One of the monuments in the museum complex, is the postal tree. (Only a branch is visible on the top of this photo because the tree is so big!) The tree is a Milkwood tree and is considered to be over 500 years old. In 1501 the navigator Da Nova found a message that warned him of rough sailing near Calcutta, in a sailor's boot under this tree. This tree is considered to be the first post office in South Africa and since Da Nova was so grateful for the message, he built a small stone hermitage to be used for religious purposes - the first religious building in South Africa! 

This is the post box under the Old Post Office Tree, where you can send out postcards and letters. A special frank is used on all outgoing mail to commemorate that South Africa's first post office was this tree. The letterbox is shaped like a boot because the first letters were placed in a sailor's boot under the tree...

Unfortunately when we visited the museum, the postal strike was still going strong and we were advised not to send out postcards from the postal tree at that time. :(

P.S - I only realized today that yesterday's changes to my website were not as easy to find as I had thought they would be! I apologize for the confusion that I have created and have now updated the home page of my website to point to the "Updates" page that shows what changes were made and when. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, it totally slipped my mind!

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Neptune's Holiday

I recently acquired the Neptune Sea Otter family and as I was packing and getting ready to leave for our December holiday, I accidentally let it slip that we would be spending some time at the coast...
These little critters just begged me to take them with me and after seeing their little pleading faces, I just couldn't resist! ;-)

These little cuties accompanied me (Safely wrapped in a big washcloth, tucked snugly into my camera bag) everywhere we went for the whole holiday. Sadly, we had a lot of very cloudy weather and conditions were not ideal for taking photos.

On our way to Mosselbay, where my husband's parents live, we stopped by another collector friend who gave me a wonderful little surprise....

Little Lucy Huntington has been transferred from the orphanage in Sugarbush Valley to the Timbertop Orphanage in Rooibosch Hill, where nanny Timbertop hopes to find her family soon.

I have been looking for Huntington bears for quite some time now, and although I have a trade for another baby pending, (Thank you post office... :(   ) his little critter is a very welcome surprise! 
For the time being little Lucy will be staying with her cousins, the Honey Bears.

The drive from our house to Mosselbay can be anything between 14 and 17 hours, depending on the amount of time spent stretching legs, the number of fuel stops, traffic, potholes and roadblocks.
For us, it was a little closer to the 17 hour mark this time and after only having cookies, crisps and candy to eat for most of the day, we decided that it was time to have a late lunch at the Three Sisters fuel station.

The fuel station has the name three sisters, because of the three distinctly shaped hills (locally called "koppies") nearby. These hills are topped with dolorite and look nearly identical. Because of the flat Karoo scenery all around, the three sisters stand out and have become a very well known landmark.

Being the mommy, I was of course tasked with taking the little one for a bathroom break. Upon my return, however, I found Shelly and Sandy Neptune happily munching away at my bacon and cheese hamburger that hubby was so kind to order for me! I didn't see much of my pink milkshake either, but at least we had two happy little sea otters for the rest of the way. 

Before we got back into the car for the last stretch of our drive, we had just enough time to take a picture of the famous Three Sisters Weather Forecast Apparatus. This apparatus is 100% accurate at any time of the day or night and requires no electricity, batteries, sun power, wind power or anything else to operate. 
It really is VERY high tech, extremely rare and crazy expensive!

It is also, essentially a rock... A really BIG rock, suspended in the air by a rusty old chain that hangs from three wooden poles that are cemented into the ground and held together with rusty nails. Comparing the weather stone to my previous photos taken in 2012, the addition of binding wire has been made in recent years (possibly as some sort of attuning mechanism for better accuracy?) where the rusty nails have now failed to keep the massive stone in the air... :-)

To help the common person to get some use out of this amazing weather stone, there is a sign post with instructions next to the stone.
It reads as follows:

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

Today marks the official one year anniversary of our Sylvanian Families and Calico Critters forum!
It has been a great year on the forum and I have been amazed and awed with the creativity of our humble collecting community. I am very grateful for the friends from all over the world that I have made on the forum and all of the support that you all have given me through both the good times and the bad over the past year. But I have also learned so much from all of the amazing members who so graciously share their ideas, knowledge and skills.

Happy 2015 everyone! May this year be filled with lots of love, hugs & Sylvanians. 


***If you have not yet signed up on the Sylvanian Families and Calico Critters forum mentioned above, please feel free to do so. We have a lot of members from all over the world and we have people from all ages and all walks of life chatting together. It doesn't matter if your English isn't good enough according to your own standards, and it doesn't matter how big your collection is - we love meeting and chatting to collectors young and young at heart both.***