Thursday, 24 October 2013


It's a red letter day in Hobart today. It's Show Day. Officially, due to Southern Tasmanian custom, we can now plant your tomatoes outside, uncovered, without fear of them being destroyed by frost. It's an idiosyncratic Tasmanian version of the Fete de La Musique which of course is code in France for signalling the real start of balmy, summer weather. Except that today, here in Hobart, Mount Wellington is covered in snow and it is all of 10 degrees out there:

My tomatoes are still being loved up and nurtured along in the artificial warmth provided by the double glazing in our north facing sunroom....maybe I'll plant them out in the veggie patch next week. Am also holding off on the four packets of sunflower seeds as it would be just too devastating if these hopeful, signals of summer were decimated by an unseasonal wintery frost.

The inclement weather meant that this morning my husband was unable to ride his bike all the way to Orford, on the East Coast. He is a serious bike riding MAMIL. I'm pleased to announce that I too have recently acquired a bike and become a cyclist......yet I'm most decidedly not a female version of a Middle Aged Man in Lycra.....apart from blatantly apparent bike colour coordinates with most of my shoes.....and has a wicker basket:

I deliberated over the choice of bike for ages.....honestly, I was thinking about it back in the mists of time when I would have needed two baby seats. I had my heart set on a Pashley Princess, much to the mirth of the chap in the neighbourhood bike shop, an English import which looks the business yet weighs a tonne. I had to compromise because the tyranny of location meant that I needed as many gears as I could get and quite frankly pushing a 30kg bike up to the top of my hill would have seen me dissolve into a puddle.....especially as most of the time it looks like this:

I couldn't help myself and my first ride after taking possession was over the iconic Tasman Bridge which links the city of Hobart with the suburbs on the Eastern Shore:

In hindsight it was a ridiculous route to choose as my bike looked startlingly incongruous next to the five lanes of traffic:

The cycleway is so narrow that if you accidentally lost control of your steering you would pitch over the knee height rail and be rendered road splat.

So, where do you go when your bike is much more suited to riding around town? Well, for starters not only did it take me up hill and down dale all the way to my yoga studio for class, it also took me out to lunch twice last week.....although I may have to rethink my cycling attire as half way down Macquarie Street (steep incline, three busy lanes of traffic) my scarf blew into my face and I couldn't see where I was going. The high heels though, were fine.....much to my husband's distain, as he would never, ever be seen dead in anything other than bike shoes with cleats.

Anyway, another exciting date looming on the calendar for Hobartians is this coming Saturday evening 6pm - 8pm at the Stanley Burbury Theatre (at UTAS) when Tim Winton will be in town talking about his new book 'Eyrie'. If you are thinking of going, tickets are $10 or $7.50 concession and you can pick them up at Fullers Bookshop in town. I've just finished reading it in anticipation, although I must admit that my head is still spinning from the intense paranoic hyper reality which is the mind space of the main protagonist......and thinking about the ending. I'm very curious as to what Tim Winton will have to say....and to hear him talk about this book in person is just too good an opportunity to pass up. I've bought my ticket.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013


I think that I've mentioned before how I'd most likely be clinically certified as insane during school holidays if I didn't have the comforting respite of a good book to see me through. Mercifully, during the holidays that have only just concluded I had a couple of fab books in which I was able to quite happily lose myself amongst the pages.

Can you believe that only a couple of days into the hols, Paul Bangay himself came to Fullers Bookshop in Hobart with his new book 'The Garden at Stonefields':

This was such a red letter occasion that I actually hosted a sleepover at my place and one of my old friends from school drove 4 hours from her farm in the north of Tasmania to come and see Paul with me:

After an informal talk, there was question time and I was able to ask Paul Bangay, in person, which gardening books he keeps stacked up on his bedside table.....his answer was anything by or about Vita Sackville West and Sissinghurst, David Hicks and Russell Page. While most of Paul's oeuvre has done time on my bedside table, I'm sorry to say, that as much as I love this book, it weighs an absolute tonne and is particularly difficult to read in bed. However that's an aside. He also clarified that the quickest way to get your hedges to join up (and this is a major preoccupation for me) is to plant from small, and water and fertilise like mad......I later read that in his own garden he dug up most of the soil in his beds and had it sifted, fed and topped up before it was replaced.....maybe that's what I'm going wrong.

Anyway, the rush of having the babysitter in for the evening may have gone to my head, the result being that my friend and I took ourselves out for a fancy dinner at was celebrity spotting heaven (in Hobart terms) as we later spotted Paul.....disappointingly having dinner at another communal table. Yet, for my friend, who quite openly admits to being an AFL footy tragic she was beside herself to discover that she was actually sitting next to a female football commentator who she idolises.....I'm afraid to say that I didn't have a clue who she was. As you can imagine, it was hard work keeping the troops on track the next day. Thank goodness I had a brief window of opportunity to slope off with a cup of tea and see the before and after of the magic that happened over 8 years in the Stonefields garden.....the immediate results being a that I've been gripped by a gardening fervour which has seen me strew sheep manure over my entire garden, plant 3 box topiary shapes and a hedge of eight 'Abraham Darby' far.

One weekend during the holidays, we took the ferry over to Bruny Island where amongst the strange isolation and beautiful scenery:

 I started to read this:

Richard Flanagan's new book 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'. I won't lie to you, at one stage....after the horrifyingly confronting and graphic descriptions of a POW camp in Burma....I had to put it down and take a mini break.

I'd been to a talk Richard Flanagan gave a couple of weeks ago and been transfixed by his anecdotes and inspiration. One story he told was about when he went on a book tour of America which coincided with the belated release of 'The Death of A River Guide' which he had written some years before. I was recounting this afterwards to my husband (who has done some work for Richard) and made it this far before he wanted to know whether this was the time 'when Richard found himself in the back of a taxi with the Beastie Boys?' No. It was the time that Richard found himself on the plane and realised that he couldn't remember absolutely anything about this particular book that he had written, neither the plot nor the characters....nothing. The book was in the hold, which was no help, so he admitted that he resorted to drink. After he landed, jet lagged and a tad hungover, he was met with the good news that he had to front up for a radio interview....and he was already running late.

I managed to summon the courage to finish 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' and I'm still digesting it. It was written in such a way that even though I didn't think I could keep going, I had no choice, as I compulsively wanted to know how it was all going to end. And nothing prepared me for how it did. I can't stop thinking about it and already realise that I'm going to have to read it all over again.

Although, before I do so, I think I'm going to have to read Tim Winton's new book 'Eyrie'. Especially as I see that Tim is bound for Hobart to talk at a Fullers event on 26 October at 6pm at the Stanley Burbury Theatre at the University of Tasmania....which is bound to be interesting.

So my children are now all institutionalised back in their respective schools. Books aside, during the second weekend of the holidays, I managed to stage an actual physical Melbourne for a hedonistic weekend of chat, food, fashion and frivolity with Heidi from Adelaide Villa, the most interesting blog commenter in the world, Pamela and Faux Fuchsia.

How fantastic are these ginger jar jeans:

They were a gift from the sartorially gifted Faux Fuchsia who was determined that I should start dressing to match my house.....although I may have already been guilty of dressing my baby accordingly......see: