Monday, January 30, 2012

Australian classics...


I am the sort of person who waits until a day or two after daylight saving shifts to change all the clocks. I need a day or two to adjust to the idea, even though it happens twice a year.

Same with a new year.

Now that it is well and truly 2012 I have updated my reading list. 2011 is still there with a few comments on the books I did get around to reading. Some good, some great, some so so. Some I couldn't finish.

Here's something to look forward to in your reading year. Text Publishing is producing 32 Australian classics in paperback form, cheap at $12.95 (cheap for an Australian book - don't get me started on book prices here).

In this thought-provoking opinion piece Michael Heyward, the head of Text Publishing, bemoans the fact that many of Australia's best literary works are now out of print - and even the entire works of some of our best authors.

He has an excellent point. I studied English Lit at school - not at university unfortunately -  and would consider myself pretty well read but many of the books and authors he mentions I haven't read or (cough) recognise.  2012 should change that.

The full list has not been released but will include Careful, He Might Hear You,  David Ireland's The Glass Canoe,  and Henry Handel Richardson's The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney.  

The scheduled release date is May. You can read more about it here on the publisher's website in the coming months.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday door, white on white on white...

A Friday door that's fresh, crisp and spells summer.  Apparently they're not having such a crisp sunny summer in Auckland where I spotted this door before we left last year.

We have summer in spades in Melbourne this month. It's been so hot that on occasion my older son wants to leave Australia. It's only 35 degrees I tell him. Toughen up, next week it could be 42.  Of course when it hits that we'll both be melting into the same greasy puddle.

It's also been a week of few words on the blog. Life is busy isn't it? I don't mean to join the competitive 'I'm busier than you are' conversations that people delight in. And I'm not importantly busy at all... not solving any Big Issues or raising seven children while working full time. Or even cleaning my house. Hell no.

I did go back to work yesterday on a public holiday - Australia Day -  and fought to get a car park among all the people gathered to celebrate their Australian-ness.

That's the trouble with journalism. We journos may be bottom feeders but we have to work on all the best days and because we're not saving lives nobody cares. That's why every summer you see those  'There Are Too Many Public Holidays' stories in your newspaper.

We whinge on hoping against hope that someone somewhere will care. Anyone?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mouse in my house...

The little guy on the right is coming to live at my place... to hang around, sniff cheese, read a little.

You can buy him here along with a lot of other pretty little critters.
Thank you Miss Jones.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Yummmm Cha

Yum Cha.

Absolutely the best family Sunday lunch option.
One eats his weight in prawn dumplings, the other waits for dessert.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Villa love...

This was my favourite Auckland house, not mine of course.

Fit for a princess, it's in one of the city's most expensive suburbs and those beautiful windows look out over the water.

When I first moved to Auckland it was a little rundown with peeling paint and a neglected garden but over the two years we were there it got a little love.

And a lot of love from me, from afar.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Simple Sunday supper

This is our simple Sunday supper of choice at the moment... a delicious tomato pasta that everyone from 2 to forty (or nearly) loves.

This makes more than enough...

Two tins of good crushed tomatoes
Olive oil - about six tablespoons
Garlic - 2/3 cloves
Vegetable stock - 250ml
Salt and Pepper
Pasta  400g of whatever you like.
Basil - if your kids eat green stuff, lucky smug you, long may it last!

Slice garlic and add to cold oil. Garlic straight into hot oil loses the subtle fragrance and becomes bitter.
Cook on a medium heat until the garlic is just starting to brown and you get that fabulous garlicky aroma.

Add the tomato and stock (tomato first as hot oil and water is not a good combination)
Season and turn up the heat and cook uncovered for ten minutes or so until the sauce has cooked down and is lumpy in the pan.  Meanwhile cook the pasta, then stir it through the sauce and serve with parmesan and fresh basil.

Delicious with crusty bread and peas - the only green thing my youngest eats with gusto. Even better in the summer with quickly qrilled prawns.

I think this started life as a Nigella recipe and has been changed a little. It's certainly not something you need to follow to the letter which surely is the point of a simple Sunday supper?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday door... from Hobart this time...

My Friday door favourites are back in 2012.... some I have found on my travels, some from my new Melbourne neighborhood and some oldies from Auckland.

This is the door of one of my favourite Hobart houses. I pass it on every trip back and always think how much I'd like to live in it.

This time when I passed with my new camera in hand it had been given a new coat of paint and some smart new pots.

I like what they've done to the place.

May your Friday the 13th pass without incident.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


We had five days away while in Hobart, a holiday within a holiday. My bright idea this year was to ask Santa for a jigsaw to puzzle over now my kids are finally old enough to know not to eat the pieces or touch the bits I've slaved over.

I did slave over it in between beach visits and managed to complete about an eighth of the one thousand pieces. The bright red bike was easy-ish and the straight edged outsides of course... The rest? ... well they're all muted shades of grey... 
So the pieces, the puzzle and my holiday pastime are all packed up in the box and back here next to me whispering... urging me to go away somewhere again.

I think we might need a three week holiday this time. I think that's how long a mostly grey 1000 piece puzzle takes.... listening Santa?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Hobart...

We return home to Hobart every year  - sometimes two or three times. And it is still always called home... which could perhaps have something to do with our constant moving.
This week my fellow blogger Kerry mentioned she was heading to Tasmania so I sent her some tips. They ran to two pages... poor woman!

Anyway here's my Hobart... you may agree or disagree.

Firstly Kerry is going to MONA and it seems a lot of people are heading to Hobart to do just that. Good. It's amazing. Beyond amazing. The Museum of New and Old Art. The building is amazing in itself. 
My advice? Get a ferry there. Skip the fancy restaurant, it's all fancy froth and foam. If you can afford it stay the night.
Right, to Hobart...

Hobart's waterfront
You will/should (bossy aren't I?) spend most of your Hobart time in Salamanca Place, browsing the galleries shops and drinking coffee, shopping for food and wine. All the following are on Salamanca's main strip:
- Retro Cafe has been there forever and was the first cool cafe (saw Bob Brown there this trip - does he count as at all cool? If not my Dad is always there and he's pretty cool, say hi.)
- Grape is a good bar for a nice glass of Tasmanian vino.
- Maldini is always reliable for a good breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
- Zum Cafe is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Just two (or three) doors up the hill from the Retro is Wursthaus Kitchen - a fabulous deli and butcher selling lots of very good things. Some of the same things can be found at a cheaper price but not as beautifully laid out in Fresh mini market back down on Salamanca Place next door to Knopwoods Retreat pub. 

Round the back behind Salamanca Place is the Quarry with a large fountain your kids will love. Here you will find:
Bar Celona - a very popular spot - great for an afternoon drink in the sun.  
Laundromat Cafe - across in the far corner behind the large chess board. 
The Hobart Bookshop is a favourite - excellent selection of Tasmanian books.
Rectango play each Friday evening in an even smaller quarry behind Salamanca just near the Peacock Theatre.  Great relaxed vibe, it's outside with a relaxed crowd, non-intrusive live music with kids dancing, sangria and beer available.
Walk up Kelly's Steps from Salamanca Place to Battery Point - the steps lead to Kelly Street and in turn to Hampden Road - admire the houses (and the front doors). Turn right and you'll hit Jackman and McRoss - fabulous baked goods and oh-so village cool. Turn left and find the new Jam Jar cafe down on the next corner. Wind your way through to the sunny back courtyard and it's a little bit of bookish/Melbourne-ish cool. Free wi-fi and good brownies.

Salamanca Market if you're there on a Saturday is a must (bossy again). There is lots to look at but for me it's mostly about the food.  Seek out scallop pies (opposite Knopwoods in the middle row) and tempura mushrooms (in the middle opposite Aspect Design)... if on holiday the rule is you can have both, twice. 
Kids and men love the Bratwurst sausage stall. Also excellent for hangovers. It's up the other end of the market near the Supreme Court. If you like seeds our friends run an amazing little stall called Southern Harvest Seeds - opposite the steps of the Supreme Court on the far left as you walk up.
We usually bribe the kids with a visit to the boat park at the southern end of the market - looking over the Derwent with lovely trees it's a beautiful spot to rest your feet for a moment or ten.

Hobart City
I used to avoid the CBD on holidays home but there are now some lovely little shops worth checking out and you can do it all on foot in an hour.
Store and Co (my favourite) in Davey Street just up from the corner with Murray Street. Beautifully styled vintagey bits and bobs. I could buy the whole shop.
Ruby's Room - across the road on the opposite corner. Owner Anjanette has a fabulous eye for lovely toys and gifts. Kids of all ages love it. She's also opened a stationery shop right next door.
Love and Clutter - half a block down Murray Street on the right (sweet name and just as sweet inside)
Then traverse town (with your eyes closed) past the site of the burnt down Myer - continue down Murray St, right into Liverpool and then left into Elizabeth Street (the bottom end is the mall which like all malls should be buried under a mass of concrete). Just a block up Elizabeth Street is Ethos a cafe/tapas place which is fabulous. It's a little hidden but so worth finding. It's next to the Tasmanian Map Shop. Further up on the left is the CWA shop - quaint and no not all Tasmanians are so country... or quaint...

Dinner options on the waterfront
Maldini, Rockwall, Zum, Smolt, Monty's in the Salamanca area...
Suwan Thai in the arcade upstairs from the Retro in Salamanca 
One of our favourites is Fish Frenzy over on Elizabeth St Pier (near the ferry departure point for MONA) Casual but excellent fish and chips and scallops/oysters/calamari. Mures is an icon in the fish and chip world. Been there forever... I carried thousands of plates in its Upper Deck Restaurant in my old life.

Dinner in the city
Ethos as above and I haven't even mentioned the buzzy restaurant strip in North Hobart at the top end of Elizabeth Street at the top end of town.
Piccolo for dinner, Annapurna for Indian and the Raincheck Lounge for coffee or dinner.
Sweet Envy by day for cakes - the chef used to work in New York and for Ramsay somewhere in the world. The State Cinema for a flick.

Right then now.... out of Hobart... Driving?
Drive up Mt Wellington on a clear day - the view is astounding and it takes half an hour to get to the top (if that). A few beautiful short mountain walks you can do too.
Richmond (over the Tasman Bridge and halfway out to the airport turn off and it's about a thirty minute drive - history in abundance and charm too.... touristy but nice. Feed the ducks under Richmond Bridge.

Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula - an hour and half from Hobart. Stunning scenery, very do-able day trip and incredible history. Although when we were there last week our three year sighed dramatically and gave us grief about all the 'broken buildings' being 'booorring'....
If you don't fancy the Sydney-Hobart route there are other options...
Take the cruise to Peppermint Bay down the Channel (as we locals call the area around the narrow D'Entrecasteaux Channel that runs between Bruny Island and mainland Tasmania). The restaurant has a new chef and is getting very good press.
Bruny Island Cruises - great eco wildlife tour down to the outside of Bruny where you'll see Seals etc - can be a bit wet and wild. Might just tickle the adventurer in you. The company also runs a similar trip to Tasman Island.
Further afield - Freycinet is of course fabulous but it's not a day trip - stay at the Freycinet Lodge or in Swansea. Walk to Wineglass Bay. Go to the Friendly Beaches. Stop in Swansea and eat and browse. Swim.

I should stop now... that gives you a little bit too much to think about already. 

But take this Design Files walking guide for the city. 
And read this from The Age although I wish every review about Hobart didn't  sound so surprised that it's not some quaint town still serving devonshire teas at every opportunity.

Oh and for those still reading and hoping for some mention of Launceston? 
No idea. Last visited 15 years ago. I am Tasmanian after all.

Monday, January 9, 2012


What a lovely time we've had. The picture just about sums it up... my dear Dad pouring another drop of something rather good to share with family and friends.

We've had two weeks in Tasmania drinking, eating, wining, dining, wandering, chatting and beaching.

There was a bit of rushing of course - there always is at Christmas time. Tasmanians who live abroad  seem to head back every other Christmas rather like homing pigeons returning to the nest. The pull of an island home I suppose.

This time we took five days away from the social whirl at a beach an hour from Hobart... my husband bushwalked a little, the boys ran and ran on the sand and swam in the shallows.  I joined them in the water for quick dips (it's pretty fresh) and also read and played with my Christmas gifts - a fantastic book I finished in three days, my new camera (yippee) and a rather challenging jigsaw.

I'll tell you more about all three this week in between the washing, sorting and gradual return to real life. 2012 here I come.


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