Found these in the leaves today…

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Mike, this one’s for you.

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Here he is in Tokyo.

On a cold winter’s day I met my soulmate.  The setting was iconic.

A young man with a moustache.  He was soft spoken, with beautiful long eyelashes and blue/green eyes.  We gravitated toward each other, and connected in an awful game of one on one ice hockey.  Neither of us could skate.  Any Canadian’s watching would have been deeply ashamed.

Anyway, no blades of glory moment for me.  Just a lot of flailing around.  My opponent was my complete equal in skill.

We were playing on a very frozen Lake Louise.

I remember wanting to be near him to talk and get to know him but I was also feeling very timid (actually the word sheepish comes to mind) and unsure of what to do with myself.

Over weeks, we’d find reasons to spend time with one another, either in the gym, steam room or for long walks in the snow. We soon became close friends.  He made me feel safe, and eventually we admitted our feelings to one another.  He then showed me unwavering love and patience.  He has been a massive support in helping me through hard times, makes me laugh often, and has cheered me on in victories.

Last month was our 5 year anniversary.  The first time we met, still feels like it was yesterday.

We have had amazing times, and a few not so great times…but through it all we’ve always had one another.

Today he wrote that my happiness is his happiness…and I thought that was beautifully romantic.

To my soulmate, thank you for being you.

You’re amazing. xo

Macro Photography @ Kings Park, Perth


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This is a new jumping spider – it might be called a “Opisthoncus mordax” but I’m not 100%.  In this photo you can see the markings on his abdomen are unusual to the jumpers I normally photograph.  He has a distinctive white x pattern.Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 9.11.19 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 9.11.42 PM

Stunning Verticordia – Also currently unidentified
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Today after lunch with a friend I took a long walk to Kings Park.  There were some flowers (and plenty of bees!) despite the fact that we’re just beginning our autumn season here in Western Australia.  There is always some colour and activity when I head to the park, I’m always surprised by what I encounter.

I’m looking forward to this winter season (wildflower season!!) when we can get out and hunt for new flower species in the hills and other areas of the state.

It was very pleasing to spot the black and white jumping spider near the end of my day today…

Such a distinguished little spider.

ps:  I’ve had a lot of free this week because I’m starting a new role next Monday!  Incase you were wondering why I was able to walk about and have long lunches…  Things are changing here for me work wise, and I’m quite thrilled for this new opportunity.  Change is good!

Redterrain is now on Instagram

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I write loads of emails (I love this form of communication) but the one thing I miss (I stopped using FB about 1.5 years ago) is seeing instantaneous photos from my family.  24 hours ago a dear friend gave birth, and perhaps it was just intuition but I text her…and discovered that she had given birth and her baby girl was indeed on Instagram.  So it had me thinking I was kind of in the dark ages.

I’m hoping to connect with family and friends and some more creative types too.

Do you use the app?  What do you enjoy about using Instagram? Are you a photographer on Instagram?  

Follow me here:  @greenterrain (redterrain was sadly taken and inactive! ahaha)

Perth, you’re beautiful.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 6.56.54 PMSometimes I forget how easy going and pretty this little city is.

Today the weather is perfect for strolling the streets and enjoying the autumn temperatures (not roasting hot).

I’m feeling on top of the world at the moment, as there are some changes in my life that are currently underway.

I also got to spend a few hours on the phone with my sisters today, which was an awesome way to start the day.

Fresh Water Aquarium – Tragedy Strikes!

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I’ve not written about our freshwater aquarium in some time.  Mostly due to the fact that the environment had stabilised after Frederick and Rayden died (Frederick was actually eaten by the fish…that he was consuming which was very ironic?).  Anyway, we’ve had a really good run of about 7 or 8 months with no incidents.

Our fish were (note the past tense here) a very good source of tranquility for me.  Often I’d just stare at them and enjoy observing their personalities.  We had a few greedy bottom feeders, some larger pretty types and of course our guppies were breeding constantly (and we actually made some money selling their fry to total strangers).  The tank has a large piece of driftwood and also some lovely fresh water plants.  It was beautiful.

  • 2x Rosy Barb – Large orange and always chasing each other or eating the baby fry
  • 4x Tetra – Red and Blue, these fish were timid and communal.
  • 2x Night Fury (Agae Eater/Sucker fish) – One was very large and loved to chase away other fish when food turned up
  • 1x Suckerfish – Silver and was growing very quickly.  He was also a little ocd and would be found cleaning everything non stop all day (my favourite).
  • 3x Guppies – 1 male and two females.  They had babies every 28 days and were orange, blue and black
  • 2x Clown Loaches – These two were tiny and very timid.  They ate the small snails in the tank.
  • 2x Bolivian Rams – The prettiest fish of the bunch.  These two were really lovely to look at, and they can swim backward and sort of suspend themselves.

When we were flying back from Japan on Saturday, I said “Mike I can’t wait to see our fish!”.  And when we opened the door to our room, I suddenly realised something was amiss.

All 17 of them were missing.  Mike later found two dried and dead on the carpet.

Our housemate turns out was a poor choice as an aquarium guardian.  He thought when a fish floated, that it was still hungry.  So he fed them loads, and when the bottom feeders weren’t eating their algae pellets, he put a few more in…and well they all died of toxic shock.

We’ve let the poor guy know it wasn’t his fault, and discussed the fact that his had happened to us on the farm, when we were looking after a rogue dog who’d killed a few harmless lamb.  We were crushed, and could sense he was feeling pretty low about it too.  It happens.  But man does it ever kick ya in the guts.

Today we’re going to buy some more fresh plants, and have our water tested.  When it’s safe we’ll add a few…but I can’t help and remember all the lovely fish whom we loved before this tragedy.

Do you have a fresh water tank?  What are your favourite fish to keep?  Have you ever had a tragedy while away on holiday when you returned home?

It could have been worse though… our balcony is still covered with our thriving plants so we’re really pleased with that!

I may have overdone it with the monkeys.

Cute Baby Japanese Snow Monkey - Copyright Redterrain 2015 Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.14.46 PM Mike took the camera from me at this stage by tricking me into a portrait.  I was taking too long documenting the beautiful forests.  There is a 1.6km hike to get to the entrance of the park.Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.14.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.14.14 PM
I feel like that kid, that’s had access to all the candy on halloween…and has eaten so much sugar that my body reacts in a lethargic, sickly way. Yesterday I was completely exhausted by 7:00pm.  I had a fever, and was glowing red in the face.  I decided to walk in a literal blizzard to the grocery store (which is 10 minutes from our hotel) to get some food.  The freezing temperature cooled me down, but I was feeling achey and tired even still when I returned home carrying dinner (fresh fruit and microwave pizza – which was actually a terrible choice!).

Mike joked with me the other day that I was on a “dizzy – high from the monkeys” and I actually think he might have been onto something. Over the evening I slept through the rest of the snow blizzard and woke with Mike to the discovery that quite a bit of snow had fallen while we were dreaming.

Today is the come down.  I’m resting in a collapsed heap.  I’ve eaten little, and moved even less.  I am a literal blob.

Tomorrow, is our last day in Hakuba before we travel back to Tokyo for one more night.  We’ll then rise early and fly back to the hot state of Western Australia, Saturday morning.

I feel oddly torn.   Japan is an amazing country, and yet there are familiar things in Australia that I am also looking forward to as well. Number one thing?  Without a doubt our amazing bed.

When you travel, what is it that you look forward to when you return home?  

It turns out, I’m the type that like’s to know there is a home to come home to.  To appreciate the unfamiliar, and bring those stories and memories back…that’s what I enjoy.  Mike and I will have many special memories to take home with us. Obviously also I love to photograph it all too.

Until next time… Sending Love, Holly & Mike

ps:  Mike may also be posting his set of photos… keep an eye out.  His images feature the monkeys in action, playing!

Wild Snow Monkeys – Jigokudani Yaen-koen, Japan

Snow Monkeys - Redterrain

Japanese Snow Monkeys - 2015 Copyright - RedterrainJapanese Snow Monkeys - 2015 Copyright - RedterrainJapanese Snow Monkeys - 2015 Copyright - RedterrainJapanese Snow Monkeys - 2015 Copyright - RedterrainScreen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.34.32 PMJigokudani Onsen Korakukan - JapanScreen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.33.50 PM To make the most of our stay, we booked one night at a “Jigokudani Onsen Korakukan”.  It has been family run for over seven generations and is 200 metres from the entrance to the park.  While it was expensive, we would easily have paid double to do this again.  In the morning and evening the monkey will climb the roof and even join you in the onsen (hot spring) outside if you’re inclined.

The rooms are traditional japanese with paper walls, and a small sitting area, along with a futon bed that rests on the floor. Included in the room price ($280.00AUD) are a traditional (delicious) dinner and breakfast as well as welcome tea and sticky rice treats. We spent our dinner along side the only other guest at the hotel.

It was at this meal, that Mike and I both tried crickets for the first time!  We became painfully aware that we did not know what to do with half of the food in front of us.  There was a long moment of eyeballing each other and giving sideways glances to the man at our right.  We were hoping that we could follow his lead… luckily he noticed us struggling and showed us what to do.Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.04.28 PM

Ryuji Nobuka is 78 years old and is a retired teacher.  He was travelling on his own, and generously shared some sake with us over dinner.  Mike and he polished off the sake, as I was having trouble swallowing more than a tiny sip at a time.  There was plenty to laugh and talk about.  Whenever things got tricky (and I couldn’t mime) we used out translator.  We spoke with our new friend for two hours.

Ryuji told us that his name meant “Two Dragons” which is probably the coolest name I’ve ever heard.  He thought my name initially was “Holy”, however I explained it was actually “Holly” which is a plant with a berries that is quite poisonous.  Mike, well his name just means Mike…  It’s very interesting what our names translate to.

He invited us to visit with him in Kyoto, when we return to Japan.  We took portraits of each other (as he is an avid photographer too) and have made the promise to keep in touch via email.  Mike and I were both really pleased to have met him and to have shared such a lovely dinner (and breakfast).

When we get back to Australia Mike and I are going to put together a care package for him and send it as a surprise.
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This little one was upset, he had been pushed out of a group cuddle and was screaming at his friends at this point.Japanese Snow Monkey - Copyright Redterrain 2015Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.29.57 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.29.32 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.28.36 PMJapanese Snow Monkey - Copyright Redterrain 2015Japanese Snow Monkey - Copyright Redterrain 2015

Jigokudani Yaen-koen, Snow Monkey Park was the highlight of our time in Japan so far.  If you have time and are in the Nagano region, it is well worth the trip. These monkeys are wild, and have been soaking in these hot springs for over 150 years.

You are encouraged to take photographs, however feeding and long eye contact are discouraged.  Understandably so, every so often one of the females would become territorial, and start to show her long front teeth to a tourist who got too close!

As I post this blog, I think back to the first time I saw images of these monkeys in National Geographic.

It feels surreal to have encountered them in real life.  They have this playful nature, and the ability to bring great joy and happiness.  I found myself grinning and laughing out loud while we were with them.

Have you seen these monkeys in Japan?  If you have, what did you think?

Thanks for reading. Holly (& Mike)

Snowboarding in Hakuba, Japan

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.12.22 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.13.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-07 at 4.51.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.16.10 PM I really admired this guys style… clothing wise anyway, I didn’t get to see his skills.  Either way, it’s a really sweet outfit.  The Japanese fashion on the mountain is really cool.Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.15.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.14.22 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.14.10 PM  Selfie sticks are everywhere… Then again Mike and I were shooting with my massive Canon.

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I had this deep fried chicken burger (which was full of actual real chicken meat, both dark and lighter) for lunch (my vegetarian diet has literally gone out the window).  It was GLORIOUSLY moist, and crisp.  The seaweed and light sauce made it rich and unique.  I couldn’t finish it, and I now have major indigestion… thank god I’ve got some medicine here to help sort out my tummy troubles, as I’ve been burping up a storm since lunch.Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.13.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.13.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.13.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.13.08 PM

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We chose Hakuba for a few reasons when we decided to take this trip to Japan.

  • There are 5 ski hills that we can choose to go to (a shuttle leaves a few times each morning and comes back midday, and later in the afternoon).
  • The snow here is insane.  Each year Hakuba is covered in about 14 metres of snow.
  • The area is not flooded with Australians, which makes our experience feel more authentic.  There are a few other regions in Japan that are more touristy, but this one at the moment is mostly frequented by Japanese people.
  • The area is very close to some special creatures which we’ll have the luxury of meeting on Monday/Tuesday (can you figure out who we will be meeting?)
  • It’s not very hard to get to from Tokyo.

Have you been to Hakuba?  What were some of the highlights for you?

UPDATE:

I have been belching like a man for 8 hours…

 All photos of the lady in the white jacket – Credited to Michael Cresswell Copyright – 2015

Oops. Wrong number!

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.21.20 PMThis is the view from our hotel room.  Ah-ma-zing.

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Beside our hotel is a man made creek.  It carries the melting snow from the heavily snowed in town… we’ve seen many men fishing here.  This man had just caught two fish when we exchanged greetings for this photo.Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.14.56 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.08.09 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.07.50 PM

The other day due to the slight language barrier, I found myself stranded at the local grocery store.  Not only was I completely  overwhelmed by the sheer volume of packaged goods (everything is processed and preserved – which actually answered the question Mike and I were asking one another in Tokyo – How exactly does Japan feed it’s people with very little crops growing at the moment?).  Preserve everything!

Now that I had the answer to that important question…

I’d forgotten to bring a telephone with me.  Eventually I decided I’d try the pay phone.  I looked at a few symbols and decided that the one that looked like a car must definitely be the number for a taxi.  I listened to the phone ring and suddenly a male voice was speaking to me very quickly in Japanese.  I told him in English that I was needing a taxi, and that I was at the supermarket.  There was a pause, when he repeated the word “taxi”.  Yes, here I thought we were on track… until I looked more closely at the sign.

I had dialled the police.

I think I said sorry about 6x before I hung up the phone.  Mike laughed at me later when I told him what I’d done.