The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth

Ahh.. yummy medieval mini series from 2010 that I have just discovered. Loads of treachery, power machinations, brutality, intrigue and clash of values and interests. Pure medieval sociology ;)

Set in 12th century England, the monks of Kingsbridge are intent on getting their burnt down cathedral re-built into a more magnificent form made out of stone. But they are mere playthings for higher powers for whom nothing is sacred. There are plenty of colourful characters: the audacious master builder, power hungry noblewomen, a steadfast prior, a bastard savant artist, a ‘witch’ who comes across as a woman way ahead of her times, and a bishop who flouts every Christian moral in order to cement his power.

There are strong love stories within, but the overall scale is as epic and fierce as the times are brutal and merciless. A luscious German-Canadian co-production with a huge Hungarian contingent on board (shot in Hungary and Austria) and wonderfully expressive actors who animate the subtlest of emotions. Music is delicious as is the opening animation. At only 8 episodes I am sure it’s going to go out with a bang and will not overstay its welcome in your living room :P

I’m truly loving it :)

Official site

Tasmania – Cradle Mountain, Launceston, Freycinet

Tasmania - Cradle Mountain, Launceston, Freycinet

After Franklin we headed North to Cradle Mountain National Park. We stayed in an alpine hut in Moina which was far from most things and very close to the wilderness.

Wish I had more energy to hike, but even with low energy we managed to go for an 8km hike, see some amazing scenery around the lakes just underneath Cradles Mountain’s peak and see some alpine waterfalls and mossy forests. We also saw a wild wallaby close up who came to look for food. On the road we stopped to see animals in the wild: wallabies, wombats, a few devils and even an echidna!

After the national park experience we visited the Marakoopa Caves nearby which boasts some amazing formations and hundreds of glow worms. On the road we tasted the most amazing honey in Chudleigh where a Dutch family has set up a honey farm and the most incredible honey shop in the world. I was high for ages :P

Launceston was a complete waste of time, I’d suggest for everyone to skip it: boring boring boring. It didn’t help that I got no sleep there at all and there was nothing I could eat. The only place worth visiting there is the Cataract Gorge which is beautiful.

Freycinet was our last stop before driving back to Hobart and flying back to Sydney. We had two days here and went up to the National Park to look down onto Wineglass Bay and visited some gorgeous beaches with red lichen on giant boulders.

We got back home very very tired… it was a bit exhausting but I’m also glad we made the most of our time and got to see so many amazing sites.

Tasmania – Hobert, Port Arthur, Franklin

Tasmania - Hobert, Port Arthur, Franklin

Finally getting to my notes on Tasmania! As you may be aware, Chris and I spent 10 days in Tassie in late Jan and early Feb 2012.

The overall experience was really amazing. We’ve taken in so much and have seen so many amazing places. However, I have also realised that the program was a bit too much and that led to stress and tiredness. I guess I wanted to make the most of the trip but went overboard a bit…

Hobart – Port Arthur – Franklin

The first leg of our Tasmanian journey started with Hobart. Our first full day saw us visiting MONA, the very new Museum of New Art. This architecturally beautiful site was recently developed to be a special space for new transgressive and inspiring art and to be the home for visiting artists and performers.

Many of the recent pieces (especially Wim Devoyne’s) managed to completely blow my mind! I’m still thinking about them. I would go down to Tassie just for MONA, it is that amazing. The Devoyne exhibition is on til early April, please go to see it!!

Next was Salamanca markets, which was bustling and awesome in a 30C day. We ended up eating a huge amount of beautiful food and rolled in the grass in a park, reading philosophy. I think we were really high on life at this point :)

Port Arthur was reasonably docile and quiet. We got there quite late so the whole place was nearly empty yet still sunny and warm (quite a treat even in summer, I think). The distances don’t look particularly large in Tassie but they are winding and slowish so getting around does take time. We walked in the ruins of the convict buildings and the beautiful gardens and on the way there looked at cafes, museums and a devil park that is completely free of tumor disease, the bane of the Tassie devil.

Franklin in stark contrast was the angry and sad yob cousin of Hobart: South of all of Australia it’s the arse end of Tassie for sure. The local towns subsist on aquaculture in the Huon delta, fruit picking in orchards, ships, wood and rudimentary tourism. The locals are insular, resentful and suspicious of anyone who doesn’t share their exact way of life and values. I guess these towns must be struggling, the young leave, opportunities decrease and most tourism has been snapped up by more enterprising and well established areas.

Everyone seems to wake at 5-6am and by 3pm nothing is open. This greatly clashed with my body clock and expectations. There was little hospitality to enjoy. Loved the Huon river though and enjoyed some nice food. Also stopped on the way in Cygnet (home to SBS’s Gourmet Farmer and several cute shops in the pouring rain) and sneaked into the National Park’s rainforest after hours which was both exhilirating (taking our chances that the early hours have robbed us of) and nerve wrecking as we had to contend with disgruntled locals chasing us. The cherries and plums were out of this world though…