Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Hello! Finally, I have emerged from the miasma of tax reporting....although not absolutely, as I still have one financial year to go.

Anyway, I managed to escape from my everyday reality for a day last week when I had a 12 hour leave pass to attend the festivities that were my mum's 70th birthday Sydney. Never have I been so lunches were packed the night before, a cake for afternoon tea was pre baked and dinner was all ready to go.....I didn't want to freak the babysitter out with the usual after school hard yards. She might never come back.

I acquired 25 macaroons from Sweet Envy:

.....which I carried on the plane as hand luggage. I donned my sparkly French Antik Batik dress:

as dictated by my mum. I still do as I'm told. Last time I wore this dress it was summertime in Uzes.....mum was visiting and she very kindly babysat our children so that we could slope off on a dinner date to Bec a Vin. Memories. This wearing there was nothing summery about the weather in was the day where it snowed in our garden. So, even though I covered over most of the dress, by accessorising with a jacket and tights.....I still I attracted some v. strange looks at Hobart International Airport at 8am in the morning. You would think they'd never seen a sequin at that time of day before. The chap manning the metal detector complimented me on my dress and then asked me to take shoes. Oh, the violation. I may have became a tad paranoid that people were looking at me and thinking that I was plying an ancient trade. If only they knew that I was a housewife with four children on a desperately needed jaunt to the big hang out at a party full of seventy year olds.

Now I know that this is a bizarre segue yet bare with me......prostitutes in the South of France, are a very common sight.....especially when you are driving along the B roads. Heavily dolled up in cliched attire, you regularly see them sitting on a chair by the side of the road, in broad daylight, waiting for business. I kid you not. There can be no denying their profession. We would flagrantly lie to our children when they asked what the lady sitting amongst the dust and litter in the middle of nowhere was doing.....waiting for.....a bus, we'd say.

Anyway, I made it to the party which was at the beautiful Victorian Italianate home of old family friends. Look how gorgeous their rambling old garden is:

Dare I admit, out loud, that I'm not such a fan of azaleas, yet I must say that planted, en masse, as they are here they really can be quite captivating. Maybe it's time to relax my azalea prejudice.

It was spooky being back at a house that had featured so prominently in my early childhood.....way back before my parents moved overseas and we landed in boarding school. On the plane, I worked out (using all of my fingers three times) that it has been a very long time since I visited last. It's funny what snippets you remember from when you were little. I remember vividly that the lady of the house (who has very eclectic taste) had just had a much lauded white bathroom installed.....complete with a ceramic zebra....this was circa 1977. The zebra is still in situ, I know because I saw it with my own eyes when I ducked off to the loo. It took me back. The same lady also had the baby teeth of her three boys, after they'd fallen out due to natural causes, mounted in gold and set on a bracelet. I distinctly remember thinking how unfair it was for the boys that their teeth weren't traded with the tooth fairy for coinage but rather became curious jewellery for their mum. Although, let me say, that now that I've had my own children I've toyed with stealing this idea for myself....yet I never followed through.

So I drank champagne with my mum on her 70th birthday. It was a wonderful day. Later in the week, it was the fifth anniversary of my dad's death. He didn't make it to seventy. We celebrated his 69th birthday with him while he was in hospital undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia. On the anniversary, I took myself for a long walk along the beach. On the way back to the car I discovered a clump of wild freesias. I've never been able to stand the cloying, overpowering smell of also takes me back to my early childhood. Freesias used to grow wild in the cemetery where my paternal grandfather was buried and mum used to pick them and take them home where they'd fill the house with their scent. Freesias, for me, will always be associated with death....a memento mori. The other day, though, I picked them:

Their perfume was strangely comforting.


PS The winner of 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' is....drumroll please....CMM! Congrats and a very big thank you to everybody who follows my blog! CMM, can you please email me and I'll get the book in the post.


  1. Happy Birthday to your mum - the garden party looks glorious, and I love the macaroons, sparkly dress and glorious garden. I always find it very strange revisiting places from my childhood. They are always much smaller than I remember. I think scent is one of the strongest memories/ associations. I never send anyone heavily scented flowers upon the death of a family member, or if someone is in hospital (having a baby or whatever) I make sure there are no lilies - it's so overpowering in a small hospital room. I'd hate for flowers I sent to remind someone of a sad time in their life when they smelt that smell again. So sorry about the anniversary of your Dad. The walk along the beach must've been very meditative.
    Can't believe you're still getting snow! xx

    1. Birthday was fab, such a special memories. Was quite bizarre tripping back through early Sydney memories before my parents moved OS and ultimately to Launceston. Had forgotten all about the zebra and tooth bracelet! Agree about scent....which is probably why I try and stick to the same perfume for years at a turn.....certain fragrances take me back to amongst other things ex boyfriends and B&S balls! Love walking along the beach....although the opportunities are few and far between with unpredictable Hobart weather! Rx

  2. The dress looks wonderful. I hope your Mum had a fabulous birthday and enjoyed the macaroons!

    I also agree about scent. I had a perfume I wore at a time when I was unwell and in hospital recovering from surgery - I had to throw it out afterwards as I could not bear it near me.

    Calla lillies are associated with death for me. I won't have them in the house or garden and must admit to spraying out the ones that grow in soggy areas in the house paddock! Ridiculous really but I always think of them as funeral flowers.

    Hope all is going well with you - commiserations about tax stuff. I hate it and it seems to tie up so much time and is so frustrating....

    1. A dress is always a memorable souvenir of a trip! And thanks, Mum had a lovely day. All good here.....just wish I hadn't kept putting tax stuff off for another day....the day finally arrived and my memory is shot and all of our accounts have changed. Yuck! Rx

  3. That must have been an emotional week...At least you had a happy occasion to offset the anniversary. It looks like a beautiful setting and hope you took lots of pictures to commemorate her birthday! One scent that I oddly love is the site of a building site but my sense of smell is not the best. I find it funny that azaleas are now not so fashionable and yet they were the main celebrated plant for the royal chelsea flower show ( initially)! Yes the one weird thing about Europe is the ubiquitous presence of "ladies of the night". But as my friend says - what's a bar without a few hookers - livens things up...x

  4. I had no idea about azaleas and the Chelsea Flower Show! Trying to recall seeing any in that amazing hall of blooms (after drinking champagne wit Faux Fuchsia) yet must admit that I was too overwhelmed by the roses, orchids, lupins, peonies and topiary. Afraid I esteem azaleas as much as carnations.....although after my trip to Sydney maybe I'm changing my mind! Rx

  5. I've heard France is considering banning prostitution - which is interesting, because I too remember the ladies (in our neck of the wood.. er city) patrolling the streets on the evenings.
    Love freesias, overwhelmed by their scent, love your colorful macarons, yay for ceramic zebras! (Just read a book wherein a game farm imported a zebra to Maine in the dead of winter and the poor thing froze... there's a bizarre segue!)

  6. i would have loved to see you in your dress!
    side note - yesterday i was at the Kate Spade outlet store near my house and there on the clearance rack was the skirt to your fab jacket you bought in London. i had to smile!

  7. I love this post R! and I like azaleas! What a fab party.

    Thrilled you got the KS jacket x

  8. Ah, we are celebrating our Mum's 70 birthday this weekend! She saw the actual date in, in Italy in May. I think I might wear sequins as well! I am glad that my Dad is still around to celebrate with us. His Dad died at 69 also - I always feel blessed that my Dad made it past that milestone.

  9. Dear Romy,
    Just catching up on my fave blog reading - what a lovely surprise to read I have won your give-away - thank you! I am currently visiting my Mum in Melbourne for her birthday last Friday, we joke it was the 4th time of celebrating her 21st as she doesn't like to talk "ages"!!! And then here to remember my dad's passing next Friday in 2000 - so a very emotion filled visit - it was timely to read your lovely post of your week too, thank you for sharing. I will email you my details - once again, many thanks for your generosity, Christine x


I LOVE hearing your thoughts! Rx