Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day Trip to Daylesford

With just five weeks to go before we head across the Bass Strait, I was determined to have a family day out to Daylesford, a beautiful little town just over an hour's drive away from Melbourne. If I'm honest, my main reason for going was to visit The Lark (see my blog list) so we made a beeline for this exquisite little emporium after I'd foraged through the Sunday market for some lovely old dessert bowls and some Willow tins. We were given such a warm welcome in the shop, and everyone left with gorgeous gifts - a real treat for the three smalls. And for me. I have never before been given a goodie bag on my way out of a shop, but today I was handed a lovely assortment of an angel, notebook, Betsey Clarke coaster, cowboy book nameplate, and an I Love Daylesford badge. A shame we didn't get to meet Allison, but a big thank you nevertheless to The Lark for a delicious shopping experience - we shall miss you in Tasmania!

Needless to say, I have been fired up with inspiration by a visit to the shop, which specialises in handcrafted, nostalgic gifts and beautiful children's toys. I bought the new edition of ecofashion mag Peppermint, and felt especially motivated by a long feature on contemporary craft, and the whole craft blog community. It's fantastic to get connected this way, and so cool to hear about what other people are creating.

We finished up our trip with a play down by the lake. The wind was icy so we chased the sun, and had a game of Pooh Sticks, before snacking on bananas, racing around a very large tree, and then heading back to the smoke. The drive home was whiled away with Peppermint, the new issue of Dumbo Feather, and a bar of Green and Black's.

So, back to a quick-fix pasta dinner and a late, late night, but everyone was very pleased with their new brightly coloured, melamine tumblers, and the lovely Royal Winton china. The boys have taken their Czech Republic vehicles to bed, and little miss has her new basket on her bedside table..... sweet dreams monkey-angels....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things I Will and Things I Won't Miss About the City

Things I Will Miss
1. My friends
2. Ceres market
3. International airports
4. Trips out to Blackwood, the Garden of St Erth and Daylesford
5. Gorman
6. Northcote High Street
7. Brunswick & Gertrude Streets
8. Zedi hair
9. Montsalvat
10. Corner cafes on residential streets like my mate Patrick's Foxy Brown in Westgarth (pictured above right in all its warm, glowing orange retro glory - mostly organic too), and A Minor Place in Brunswick

Things I Won't Miss
1. Heavy traffic
2. Not being able to park outside my house (with my twins and their big brother still all under five this is not fun)
3. Belligerent and dangerous drivers
4. The car theft that blights our street
5. Relentlessly straight roads
6. Rush hour (nothing by London standards but in Tasmania it truly does not exist)
7. The viral sprawl of the suburbs
8. Thousands upon thousands of very badly dressed people
9. The trend towards 'European style' living ie. in a shoebox with no garden
10. Being surrounded by other peoples backyards and houses

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Contemplating Beekeeping

I woke up at 3.30am this morning, thanks to a revving car engine outside my bedroom window - something we won't suffer from when we have a 50 metre long driveway flanked by fruit trees and lawn. Because I was hoping to get up at 5.15am and hotfoot it to my ridiculously early Bikram's yoga class in Fitzroy, I couldn't get back to sleep..... always a toss-up between the incredible energy afforded by a class and a couple more hours in bed. But I know what makes me feel better, so off I went. Afterwards I had to go to straight to the periodontist (poor, poor old teeth, but at least they look after them in Australia - in England they just whip 'em out!) so called home to check on the tinies only to discover they were munching on handmade cheese, homemade bread and a huge goose egg all posted from their Grandpa in Tasmania.... Posting an egg is something that possibly only my father-in-law would attempt. It was enormous - that's it pictured sitting up proudly in one of our egg-spring-cups. I am amazed it arrived intact.

While waiting for the dentist I picked up a copy of Country Style magazine, drawn by a cover line about the renovation of an old coach house in Hobart, only to discover it's the new home of a couple of printmakers I met last time we were in Tassie. As if I needed more inspiration! It was so reassuring to feel we might eventually belong to such a rich, artistic community, and also re-ignited my intentions to embark on a printmaking course when we get there. I also would love to buy one of their pieces. They are Nick and Madeleine Goodwolf, and their work is represented by Handmark Gallery in Salamanca. Handmark also represent Mandy Renard whose work I already own. Such beautiful images of women and nature. Take a look at my links to see their inspirational work.

Finally, all of this rich mix of nature and art and the good good good life made me contemplate the possibility of beekeeping. Me and my hubby have pondered over this, and I am thinking my children's breakfast would have been just perfect with a dollop of home made honey.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our New House

Here's a view of our new house , waiting for us in the back of beyond.... Snuggled in between mountains, tucked into a valley above a river and nestled on an acre of country garden wrapped around by a paddock, it's an old 1910 weatherboard beauty, full of stories and character. I've only seen it once, when I flew out alone to make a decision on behalf of the family about whether or not to buy. Right now the builders are in there, plumbing in the claw foot bath, painting the kitchen deep red and chocolate brown, and bashing down a wall to let the light into the main living room. Still holed up in our city home (another lovely old weatherboard), I am increasingly impatient to install myself and my family, with all our treasures, beneath the clouds and the blue skies, among the flowers and the fruit trees. I am already imagining a life without traffic, beachcombing on the way home from kindergarten, and sitting on the porch with an accordion....

So, six weeks to go before we up city sticks and leave the urban sprawl of Melbourne for this back of beyond - the Huon Valley in Tasmania. Three years since we left London to bring up our children on this side of the world. And it's been a strange time in many ways. I love the breathtaking beauty of this land, the safe and sound atmosphere and the relaxed Australian friendliness of the people, but I totally underestimated the culture shock. I still haven't got used to the prevalence of tracksuits on the streets, the hoons wobbling all over the roads, and the baffling popularity of New Age spirituality. I've lost count of how many times I've asked myself - what on earth am I doing here? But now we are finally escaping the city life we never really came here for in the first place, I am beginning to remember. Melbourne has been a great starting point and we've made some lovely friends who I will miss. I'll also miss the gorgeous inner-city pockets of Northcote, Fitzroy and Carlton, with their tiny tethered park blocks, their beautiful parlour corner cafes, their quaint little cottages and converted milk bars, and the thriving music, arts and crafts scene. But these small precincts of cultural cool are too heavily eclipsed by the ever-expanding rest of the city - the endless, homogenous suburbs, the sleepy uniformity of thousands of long straight roads and infinitely bland high streets and shopping centres which just go on forever in a sea of concrete and fast food outlets. Let me out! I am counting down the days......