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.

Friday, 6 September 2013


I've been exhibiting behaviour verging on compulsive in the garden. I can't help myself. It's been helping me cope with an unexpected root canal (in the tooth with my one and only filling which seems just too cruel) and the fact that I have two harrowing years worth of complicated tax returns which need to be work through...yesterday. This morning, when the chap who has been helping us with various projects around the house, dropped by to present his account he found me in the back garden still attired in my bathrobe and ugg boots......yet accessorised with gardening gloves......strewing Dynamic Lifter as far as the eye could see and as though my life depended on it....OK maybe not my life directly although most definitely the life of my roses. To this vision he commented that he hadn't even bothered to knock on the front door as he knew that he'd find me out there. Maybe it's time to feel ashamed.

I have been sleeping with to the bed:

The basic premise of Steve Solomon's book is that home grown veggies produced on soil of balanced fertility can contain more than twice the nutrition found in supermarket veggies. Which is quite a scary statistic really. Especially as it is more difficult (in Tasmania) than just adding compost and manure to your backyard garden bed to have 'balanced fertility' need to follow the recipe, in the book, to concoct your own fertiliser which includes such ingredients as guano.... aka sea gull poo. So I have been doing the wrong thing by going in heavy handedly with the Dynamic Lifer.....yet I have already planted such virtuous crops as lettuce and kale. While I'm struggling to get my head around some of the more complex scientific methods for growing healthy veg espoused in the book I must say that I did find the pages about 'Hoes' and how to most effectively use them for weeding and 'Zen and the Art of Raking' strangely comforting.

My weeding frenzy has resulted in a new recipe for dinner. Double bonus. Last night, I used the plague of parsley suffocating the front beds to create a pesto sauce with garlic, walnuts, parmesan and toasted local walnuts....the children declared it delicious...and most importantly ate the lot.

I've also been reading this:

Doesn't it have a pretty floral cover....designed by Kath Kidston, no less. 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' transported me directly to a version of domesticity experienced in rural England in the 1930's and I was surprised by how recognisable the experiences were the here and now in Hobart, 2013. Except that I don't have a live in cook, a daily, one child at boarding school AND a live in French nanny to look after the child remaining at home. I wish. Anyway, as she so succinctly sums up the eternal lament....'Query, mainly rhetorical: Why are non - professional women if married and with children, so frequently referred to as 'leisured'? Answer comes there none'. I must agree, being a housewife is the hardest job I've ever had.

Yet today, I managed to have my two loads of washing on the line by mid I went out for lunch with a friend...after the stars aligned and somehow we managed to have the nine children that we have between us either ensconced at school or looked after. There may have been a scary moment when her husband materialised pushing the pram through the restaurant....yet mercifully the child in the pram went to sleep so we were able to eke out another hour of borrowed time. It was as EM Delafield would have surely described a '...sensation of leisured opulence, derived from unwonted absence of all domestic duties'.

If you are looking for a momentary escape...and be warned....Jilly Cooper wrote that when she first read this book she devoured ' in one sitting, leaving the children unbathed, dogs unwalked, a husband unfed'....then this book could be winging it's way to your place. As an unashamed ploy to try and grow my blog followers....sans guano......I'm giving away one copy of 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' (not 'Growing Vegetables South of Australia') to somebody from my list of followers. All you need to do is join....for those of you who already have, then you are immediately in the running. So, next week, I'll randomly pick a name from the complete list. As Mrs Doyle from 'Father Ted' would say....'Go on'!