Domaine des Aubineaux

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Pooches on the porch

This colonial house was built in 1872 and is now a museum at the start of the Tea Route in Forest Side, near Curepipe. Yes, there is tea produced on the island.

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The house was the home of the Aubineaux family and originally built in wood.

The guide sends you into the attic via a circular staircase. There is a very casual display of, well, things you would find in an attic in the 1950’s including camera equipment and wind-up gramophone.

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State of the Ark photography and The Joe Loss Orchestra on 78rpm

On the ground floor, you can explore the main parts of the house.

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The house is filled with original period furniture, paintings and photographs.

It was extended and refurbished years ago adding, amongst other things, a wide central corridor by taking space away from the main rooms; this was very unusual at the time. The house was also the first in Mauritius to have electricity installed which must have been a shock.

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The bed was harder than the floor but the room light and airy
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Original wallpaper and some lovely rosewood furniture

The house and its contents give you a very good idea of what life was like in those times on the island.

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They knew how to entertain in those days as this extending table displays

Some of the wood used in the decoration and construction of the house came from shipwrecks.

It has been a long time since these ivories were tinkled
It has been a long time since these ivories were tinkled
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The local Philharmonic Society would play music at the house. (Gramophone was clearly not loud enough).
Plenty of rum from St Aubin distillery to choose from
A great selection of aged and flavoured rums from St Aubin distillery

The stables have been transformed and include an essential oil distillery.

Nice to have a small distillery in the back garden
Nice to have a small distillery in the back garden, this one produces flavours
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South facing side of the house over looking the stables and the stunning garden
The shop has tea and gifts on sale
The shop has tea, rum and other gifts on sale

The Floral Park has many trees endemic to the island and some exotic plants too; well worth a stroll around.  These palms looked amazing, the trunks so neat and tidy.

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Palmier Royal or Roystonia Regia

I will continue the Tea Route at a later date: it may be a bit of a rum do.

http://www.saintaubin.mu/larouteduthe/

Casela Nature and Leisure Park

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This was originally a bird sanctuary and has gradually developed to become a major tourist attraction on the West Coast between Cascavelles and Tamarin.

With over 250 hectares, Casela is home to 1,500 birds as well as white lions, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, hyenas, camels, pygmy hippos, white rhinos and giant tortoises amongst others. There are also zip wires, mud karting and other activities.

Having enjoyed African safaris I was only really interested in the giant tortoises and the birds.

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Loose ruck practice
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Time for a nap after eating a leaf

It is amazing how fast these tortoises move when there is food around.

The birds have so much colour, it  comes from the most unbelievable paintbox.

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Latino Lovebird
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An impressive display
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Scarlet Ibis
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Fischer’sLovebird. Just impossible colours!
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Not a Norwegian Blue but wonderful plumage
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Blue Indian ring-necked Parakeet
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A very large canary
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A pair of ducks going for a swim
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Mother hen preventing chicks from getting too clucking close
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Guard duty

It was enjoyable to see the birds at close quarters with such amazing colours.

A very successful enterprise but give me a game park, everytime.

Casela Nature and Leisure Park

Views and Blues

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Sugar cane covers almost all of the island and, as it is cooler, has just come into flower. It will stop growing, ripen and be harvested over the next six months.

Everyday I find myself looking at the sky and the sea and appreciating the various shades of blue. Blue is the colour, of course. The mountains and sugar cane seem to be in almost every view of the island and look stunning illuminated by the Indian Ocean sunshine.

I drove to Grand Baie in the North for an early meeting; the sea is a very special of shade of blue there, almost metallic, it always surprises me.

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The East side of Grand Bay, the early morning sun reflecting on the sea

The second photo was taken a few minutes later, having turned to the West.

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Just after sunrise in West side of Grand Baie

This is a fishing area and the hull of the one behind was being worked on by five men, it had been damaged by coral.

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It took a while to get the right angle to photograph this as the men kept standing up to see what I was doing!

The next morning I was up at dawn to go dolphin watching.

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Early morning winter sunlight is not so spectacular on the West coast.

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The dolphins were feeding deep in the water for a change
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Mother and child

Many more boats started to appear with tourists eager to go swimming and snorkelling among the dolphins.

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It was getting crowded and so we decided to head for home.

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Returning to Black River an hour after sunrise, I was stunned by the blue of the sky, the green of the vegetation and the reflection of both in the lagoon.

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It was like a mill pond; beautiful.

Dragon boat racing

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Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis harbour is often used for displays and exhibitions as it is usually well supported. The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival was no exception.

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The Waterfront was looking splendid in the Winter sunshine (yes, it is really Winter). The coastguards had to move their boats to clear the racing area.

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New shiny flags have appeared in Place d’Armes overlooking the harbour
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The latest Bollywood film was a big distraction to many
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A crowd gathered in the sunshine around the Caudan arena to watch Chinese Lion dancing and other displays. It was not raining.
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The Yoo Sin Boat dance
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Horse tail swishing
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Not now Kato!

The first race!

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A clear winner and three tying for second place.
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They all had to turn around, not easy, and bring the boats back for the next teams to race.
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The drummer is vitally important for the rhythm and the dragon for good luck.
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Multi national crowd waiting for the second race
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The four dragon boats are in position … or are they?
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No, not quite. Back a bit.

Yes they were but no sooner than three boats were touching the wall, the fourth would drift away!

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Ready with a starting pistol and a fan

Seconds after this, the Officials’ boat had to be moved away from the wall delaying the start by another twenty minutes.

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And finally they are off!
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Fuelled by desire, spirit, dim sum and chow mein they sprinted to the harbour entrance
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Next stop, Hong Kong!

I love you Sugar Kane

 

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The title of this art exhibition unsurprisingly piqued my interest. I remember this was the name of the ‘dumb blonde’ character that Marilyn Monroe played in the film ‘Some Like It Hot” but it was the reference to sugar as well as a painting in an advert that made me walk to the gallery in Port Louis.

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The entrance was almost prison like with shutters and padlocks covering some windows and doors. Not knowing quite what to expect, I went in, was given a handout guide and was warmly welcomed to the free exhibition.

 “No form of violence can ever be excused in a society that wishes to call itself decent”

Nelson Mandela

The curator’s written introduction wiped the smile off my face, this was more serious than I had expected. She wrote in the notes,

“Violence spoken, and violence underneath the skin are two themes around which the exhibition turns”.

I am not a student of art but know what I like and don’t like, (boats and ships I hear some say!) It does interest me to a degree to know the deeper meanings of a painting or what an artist is trying to represent but here, without the curator’s notes, I would have been completely lost amongst the 23 exhibits.

'The Wolf's Theme'. Simon Gush (b. 1981, South Africa)
‘The Wolf’s Theme’. Simon Gush (b. 1981, South Africa)

The first exhibit. Now what is all this about? I came here to see paintings! Confused? Oui! Now what do we have here? Music stands,  the score from Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and some rope. In Prokofiev’s 1936 musical fable, the wolf is represented by the horn section and swallows Peter’s friend the duck. He is caught bravely by Peter who also, despite warnings, catches the wolf with a noose made of rope.

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I could not see a duck in any of the horns

The wolf is seen as a threat in Mauritius and so relates to the shape-shifting werewolf, ‘loup-garou’, which has been sighted on the island after a devastating cyclone.

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‘Untitled Installation’. Prajakta Potnis (b. 1980 India)

This may represent stress and violence erupting from a surface of domestic calm? Others will have their own views as to whether it is art or not. I did actually want to wash my hands before realising it was an exhibit but now I was starting to take this all seriously.

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“Double Date” by Mawande Ka Zenzile (b.1986, South Africa)

This was the artwork used in the advert for the exhibition. It was textured with cow dung and oil paints. Really. It reminded me of the film, “12 years a slave”. Shocking.

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‘Shame’. Penny Siopsis (b. 1953, South Africa)

The shades of red and orange in the faces that make up this hand stamped print have layers and layers that are not obvious in the photograph above. The word ‘shame’ is spelt out over 100 times in the lower right hand corner.

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‘Isililo’. Zane Muholi (b. 1972, South Africa)

This stunning, blackly veiled self-portrait made me stop and look for many minutes. The white of the eyes and the vertical stripe, the contrasting textures. The image stayed with me for days. It commanded my attention, even now as I type this blog. I wanted to know the story behind the photograph and even more about the photographer who I researched later. Maybe you will too.

Walking back to my car whilst pondering ‘what is Art’, I realised how little graffiti there is anywhere in Mauritius. I had hardly seen any and then by chance I came across a small area that had been painted for last year’s PORLWI by light festival.

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A three walled car park had this on the left hand wall
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This was the central colourful exhibit
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A panoramic photograph of the right hand wall

The black and white painting of Mauritian structures on the right hand wall is so clever, amazing street art. Look closely how the bricks and windows blend into the painting.

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Extraordinary street art

Time to drive home. Wait a minute, there is street art everywhere!

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A cheesey photograph!
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Another cheese advert; even the cow is laughing at the photographer

Some of the best advertisements are on buildings; posters don’t survive long in the sun, heat and humidity.

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Even the buses have a bit of art about them

This building gives a clue to what is in the nearby forest, over 60,000 deer.

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Over 60, 000 deer live in the forest in the south

Driving past the turning for Tamarin beach I spotted this on the side of a convenience store wall.

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Tamarin is home for some goats and dolphins.  It is also a good spot for surfing and bodyboarding as this shows!

And finally, this is the art that nature exhibited just a few minutes walk from home.

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Sugar cane flowers, silvery golden in fading sunshine

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Art is everywhere, you just have to open your eyes.

http://www.icaio.org