Long time no see


It has been far too long since I last visited here.  Life has been keeping me busy.

In the middle of last year, I took up a role in community cultural development, the dream job in fact, working with artists, groups and community folk to make our area a little more creative.  As much of my work is supporting local creatives and developing projects, there isn’t much opportunity for my own artmaking, but as a whole, it’s enourmously rewarding.

These are some of the more colourful projects you may have seen around town.






A tea cosy for Sarah

I always appreciate handmade gifts, something that’s one of a kind and doesn’t come shrink-wrapped.

I’ve made many gifts over the years like bags, socks, beanies, and other slightly imperfect presents for my friends and family, and this is the cosy I made for Sarah as a very belated birthday present which we tested over afternoon tea in glorious mountain sunshine.


Jasmine is in the air.

My heart always leaps when I smell the first scent of jasmine for the year.  It promises long summer days and warm evenings in the sea, and salads and fruit and sitting outdoors with friends.

So with the storm now passed and waking to a fine day I was inspired to get into the garden.  Between my awesome new job, the battle with bandicoots and general winter hibernation, my herbs have been quite neglected.  The only thing that’s really survived the cold months was the lemongrass, which I chopped back today to dry and use as tea.  But I bought some parsley and a few pots of colour from the market which will start to revive my little garden.

Later James and I headed down to the harbour for a picnic lunch and a lazy hour and a half soaking up the sun.

Mrs Morley’s Cash Mob

Mrs Morley is a 99 year old, six days a week, haberdashery shop owner and she’s worked in her tiny shop in Manly since 1989.

In a gesture of good will and community spirit, Mrs Morley’s retail neighbour, Desire Books organised a ‘cash mob’ calling on folks to come down to the store on Saturday morning to spend $5 in the shop.

It was really heartwarming to join the queue in a show of support for local, independent business and to meet others happy to take time out from busy schedules to chat and have a cup of tea and pick up some cotton or a metre or two of ribbon.  There is something very special in that.

Oh, and Mrs Morley still tallies up all your sewing notions without a calculator.

To watch a very lovely video of the day, visit here.

Wild Weather

The storm is still battering our little coastal town.  Three days of wild winds that brought down trees, power lines and roofing, tearing boats from their moorings to cast them ashore.

Braving the outdoors, we grinned like children in rare solidarity, hair and garments flapping widely in the winds that whipped up unexpectedly and quickened our steps.

Feeling so alive.

A Week in the Outback

Each year my workplace takes a group of young people to the outback as part of our Sister City program and I was lucky enough to supervise this year’s team.

I forget how spectacular our country is.  All those wide open spaces, the red earth and grass plains under bright blue skies; our hardworking famers and rich Aboriginal heritage and a life quite different to mine.

Shampoo-free hair care

I’ve ditched commercial shampoo and conditioner and jumped on the bicarb and vinegar bandwagon.

It’s been about three months now and I can’t see a reason to change: it’s cheap, effective, reduces plastic waste, and most importantly it doesn’t contain all the heavy chemicals in regular shampoos and conditioners, so it’s better for you and the environment.

Lots of people are writing about it, like this one, this one and this one, with different ratios and formulas, but you can be quite relaxed about it.  This is roughly what I do:

In one clean, used bottle mix about 1 part bicarb with 4 parts water.  This is your “shampoo”.

Then in another bottle, mix the same ratio of vinegar and water.  This is your conditioning rinse.

Shake well before use and apply them as you would shampoo and conditioner.

Et voila!

Greener Transport

Travel is a wonderful thing.  It’s a chance to learn and see and do new things, to meet new people and open our minds and be challenged, and this latest trip was such a wonderful time I’m dreaming up my next holiday abroad!

I majored in International Social Development at university and have always been interested in other cultures so it follows that much of my early travels had been in developing countries.  Despite all those incredible experiences, I often felt uncomfortable about the impact of tourism on local communities, conscious that no matter how culturally sensitive I try to be, I am fuelling change both good and bad, along with the many thousands of people who have trod that very same path.  This is a highly debatable topic and Wild Wilderness throws some heavy punches in the direction of tourism, but with the evening news filled with stories about racism and intolerance around the globe I don’t think this is a time to be parochial.

Now however, thanks to a UK born husband, my holidays have been in Europe and I suppose responsible tourism here is more about greener modes of transport since the aviation industry is one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions.

I’m going to say upfront that I am not a supporter of carbon off-setting.  It’s not a long term solution and along with all the other quick fixes, it doesn’t create change but allows people to feel good about themselves without actually doing anything different.  Rather, we should reconsider travel altogether and think about alternatives.

So this time, rather than jet set across Europe, we packed light and boarded the train.  I loved that you could board the train in, say, Vienna and a few hours later hop off in Hungary – a totally foreign concept in Australia!

Seat 61 has done the maths and train travel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.  It’s also cheaper, sometimes faster when you consider check-in times, and leaves you to relax and enjoy the ride.

But sustainable transport is not just for holidays.  When my old car broke down for the last time (may she rest in peace) James and I decided to look into car sharing rather than buy a new one.  We are lucky that a commercial scheme operates in our neighbourhood and in the two years we’ve been car sharing, the fleet has tripled which means it’s rising in popularity.  It’s pretty convenient and I haven’t really felt the need to own a car at all.  Certainly it’s not always the cheapest way to get from A to B, but then I just jump on a bus or a ferry and I’m there.

Beautiful Budapest

The long unified settlements of Buda and Pest lay astride the River Danube.  It is a city of decay and renewal; crumbling, gritty, modern, and incredibly beautiful.  Here more than anywhere else was I awed by the sights this city offered: just when I thought I’d seen it all, another magnificent building or square would reveal itself.

The 1938 Technicolor film Beautiful Budapest shows the cosmopolitan life in Hungary’s capital just one year before the Second World War, a place unaware of the tragedy and devastation to come.  But it also showcases the many attractions that continue to hold appeal.  Like the remedial waters of the Gellert Baths, built in the art nouveaux style, where we spent and indulgent three hours in the thermal pools, and Castle Hill which affords the best views of the city.

Only one omission is the Gerbeaud patisserie.  If divine cakes are your thing, you won’t want to miss this Hungarian institution.